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The risk of hardware failure is the most commonly talked-about reason to perform backups. Indeed, nothing will jolt someone into realizing the importance of backups more than an unrecoverable hard disk failure. Since the hard disk stores your main programs and data, it is the hardware whose failure hurts the most. It is also what gets the most attention, and rightly so.
However, there are other hardware problems that can cause permanent data loss, and some of these can be rather hard to figure out, since they don't seem like they should be responsible for the problem. Here are just a few:
Next: Software Failure