Common sense for the modern human – Backups!

Let’s say you have a laptop that you use as your primary work machine, and it stores lots of important stuff like work documents and old emails. Now lets say one day you boot it up and it won’t start up, and you hear some weird ‘clicking’ noises.

Guess what: your hard drive, arguably the single most likely-to-fail component in your laptop, has just failed. And you desperately need your data, like a key document due to a client today. What do you do next?

If you are one of the fortunate people who, either intentionally or unintentionally, have good, up-to-date backups of your laptop, it’s no problem. Worst case scenario you bring your backup medium, such an external USB drive, over to someone else’s machine and you get at your data. You can skip the rest of this post.

However, if you either do not have any backups or do not have good up-to-date backups of your data, you really only have two options. Option one is to bring your failed hard drive to a data recovery service. They typically charge in the neighborhood of $2000-$4000 to recover data from a failed laptop or desktop hard drive. Option two is to throw your hands up in the air and resign yourself to the fact that you have lost all your data. Better get to work re-writing that document ASAP!

The point of all this is, it is every modern human’s responsibility to themselves that they always make sure that their key data is being backed up, and further, that it is being backed up regularly and succesfully. That is just one of those things that every individual is going to have to have some awareness of sooner or later. Even if you aren’t technically managing your own backups, you’d better make sure that somebody is, i.e. that provisions have been made for backing up your data and that someone is verifying that the backups are actually occuring succesfully and your data is recoverable.

It’s the same on the server or website hosting side as well. If your company has servers, it may sound obvious, but it must be someone’s responsibility to not only ensure the servers are being backed up, but that they are being backed up succesfully. Even if you are using a redundant off-site back-up service, you need to actually verify that it is working and continues to work. And if you are using hosted services, such as hosting a website or email with a company like ours or any other host, it is your responsibility to yourself to both confirm that your hosted data is being backed up and how frequently, and to even go so far as to occasionally request a test restore, just to confirm for yourself that your data really is recoverable.

Bottom line is, if one accepts the need for backups and is willing to take some level of personal responsibility for ensuring that their own  data is safe and recoverable, one can avoid ever having that ‘oh sh-t!’ moment that is what eventually leads everyone who isn’t already to become ‘backup-aware’…

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