Importance of Backing Up Your Data

Below is a listing of barriers to backups that may explain the rarity of their use.

Blinking twelve problem

  • The backup software included with your OS isn’t always entirely idiot-proof, straightforward, or customizable.

  • Mobile devices are complicated, giving options for USB, Cellular Data, and Wi-Fi for backups. They can adversely affect the battery life, charging rate, and cellular data usage of the device, users are often unsure how to configure around it.

  • With such variety of hardware options for backups, combining two or more software can prove difficult, such as getting the passworded file server integrated into your router to be detected by windows backup.

  • One-device “backups” are common, with people thinking they can rely on whatever is set up within the device they’re using themselves. Things like “recovery” partitions, RAID arrays, or the concept of “system restore” often give users the idea their data is somehow backed up. If it’s in the same system, it should not be considered a backup in any way, except against most user error.

  • Changes across the network can disable scheduled backups that were once functional, frustrating the user.

Perceived Cost

People may (mistakenly) be under the impression backups are expensive. This hasn’t been true for about 10 years.

  • Most online backup solutions have decently generous amounts of storage for their free plan.

  • 99% of users will never fill their existing hard drive, let alone a cheap backup drive. Still, the idea is there and is a pretty big barrier to compliance.

  • Data backup services being advertised on TV are always of the paid variety.

  • Apple’s marketing department pushed the idea of high cost peripherals such as external storage devices, confusing the user about the true cost of them.

  • Solid state disks are touted as being so much more reliable than hard drives. The user may believe the cheaper, higher volume option of hard drives is somehow unacceptable for backups.

  • For low volumes of data, online backups are free or very low cost. This is the majority of users, with photos, documents, and game save files being the most common.

  • For large volumes and those without decent internet, hard drives for backups can be had between 2 and 3 cents per GB.

New devices

Nobody sets up the backups when they should. The best time to set up backups is the moment a device is first brought online. Users at this point are in a very unique state of mind:

  • They’re excited about their new device, and just want to breeze through initial setup to immediately begin playing with new features and functionality. Even prudent users may become overwhelmed with the large amount of settings and configurations they’re presented with during this time.

  • The device is brand new, and therefore has no personal data on it they are concerned about losing. Automatic scheduled backups are far from their first priority, since there’s nothing to back up yet.

  • The device being brand new to them, they have no idea how settings are layed out, or services are configured. It’s too easy to mess something up, so “advanced” settings are avoided until they are confident enough to explore them.

Redundancy

Redundancy, while nice to have, is NOT the same as backups. Be sure to get real backup software instead of or in addition to redundancy.

  • RAID, a form of multi-disk redundancy (excluding RAID0), is typically located in the same computer as the source data, and so is prone to any hardware failures outside of the max amount of failed disks that recovery is possible with.

  • Redundancy keeps a live copy but does not keep history or old copies of backups. Therefore it doesn’t protect against any form of software failure.

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