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[ The PC Guide | System Care Guide | Backups and Disaster Recovery ]

A Mental Exercise To Underscore the Importance of Backups

Most unfortunately, there are some things that people only take seriously after they have experienced personally the pain that results from not taking them seriously. Backups definitely fall into this category. Most people are relatively nonchalant about them until disaster strikes--thereafter, they are much more diligent about backups (but after the damage is done.) Despite the difficulty in getting people to learn from others' mistakes, I'm stubborn, so I will try anyway in this section. :^)

Here's a mental exercise that you can do to help you understand how important backups are. Take a look at your PC and think about what is on it. Think about your data and your programs. Consider how much time it took to create the data, and to set up and tweak your PC so that it works the way you like. Now imagine that one morning you go to your desk and the PC has vanished without a trace. What will you do?

Let's suppose you had insurance on the hardware, and a week later a new PC shows up at your door with a fresh new, clean hard disk. Now what? Most people who ask themselves this question seriously, begin to take backups much more seriously. (Fortunately, for most people the exercise is only a mental exercise, but don't think it can't happen to you in the real world.)

Recovering from a disaster such as a total disk crash or theft of a PC box can be a very traumatic event, much more than most PC users realize. This is true even if backups exist; when they don't exist the situation is much, much worse. The pain of recovering from a disaster is almost always very high, and the cost is primarily in the time required to recreate the lost data. For even a small business, this can run into the thousands of dollars very quickly.

If you still aren't convinced, consider this report from the University of Texas Center for Research on Information Systems. Of the companies that lose their data in a disaster:

  • 90% are out of business within two years...
  • Nearly 50% never reopen their doors at all after the disaster!

(Source: Datamation, June 14, 1994.)

While some of this is probably due to reasons other than the data loss (if the building burns to the ground there may be many reasons the company it housed never reopens), in many cases the data loss is what does the company in.

Next: The Risks To Your Data

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