By Aysë Stenabaugh – Jester’s Computer Services
Unless you have a newer computer that is utilizing a solid state hard drive or flash storage (which from my own personal encounters can still be problematic) you should know that your data is not safe if stored in only one location. Standard hard drives have moving parts and any electronic device with moving parts will eventually fail. Studies have shown that hard drives experience a higher failure rate during the first year of use and the failure rate spikes even higher after three to four years of use.
What can you do to ensure your data won’t be lost due to hardware failure?
If your computers motherboard fails, your data should be accessible, however, if the hard drive that stores the data fails and you didn’t create a backup -you’re out of luck. If you have pictures, documents, music or videos that you don’t want to lose you NEED to have a backup of that data to ensure it won’t be lost. There are several backup options including flash drives, CD/DVD’s, external drives and cloud storage. Read more below about each of these storage options and the pros and cons of each.
What type of backup solution is right for me?
Depending on your budget and your skill level you may favor one backup solution over another. The four types of backups that we are covering each have their own advantages and disadvantages. You might prefer something more automated which will cost a bit more or something inexpensive that you can manually maintain might be more desired.
Flash Drives – For those who are comfortable manually copying files from one storage location to another and don’t need a more complex automated backup system a USB flash drive is an affordable option (with lower storage capacity drives averaging $20). They come in varying sizes and get more expensive the larger the storage capacity. USB devices have an estimated lifespan of 10,000 uses (meaning the number of times the device is expected to last when plugging and unplugging the device)
CD/DVD’s – This used to be a great way to store data until flash drives came along. Burning discs can be more complicated than copying files to a flash drive and since they can be scratched or broken they aren’t as reliable as flash drives are today. This storage method, while not preferred, may be the only option in situations where company policies don’t allow the use of external USB devices. In which case be sure to store your CD or DVD’s in a case to help resist damage. One benefit to using a disc as a storage medium is that other than being damaged the discs themselves can’t wear out.
External Drives – An external or backup drive can be a bit pricier (Averaging around $100) but with the additional storage space and features make it worth the expense. With the drives included backup software or Windows’ built in backup software your drive can be set to back up on a schedule to ensure that it keeps any data being adding to your computer safe. With Windows and some other software applications you can even create an encrypted system image. This is a highly sought after feature that allows you to take a snapshot of your computer allowing you to restore your computer back to the state it was in when the image was created – programs included! In addition to having a snapshot the system image is encrypted unlike a standard backup which means that a system image that was created prior to being infected with the CryptoWall virus (which renders all of your personal data including pictures and documents inaccessible) could be restored without losing data.
Cloud Storage & Backup – Some companies like Carbonite offer a fully automated online backup system. Others, like Dropbox or Microsoft’s OneDrive, allow you to store data in designated folders both on your storage device and in cloud storage. Data plans for Carbonite range from $60-150 a year depending on the level of service you choose. If you are using an internet provider that limits your monthly data usage (like a cell carrier typically does) you may want to exclude cloud storage as a data storage option.
Don’t wait until it’s too late to learn how important backing up your device can be. Unless you have absolutely no pictures, documents etc. stored on your computer or device that you can’t live without we highly recommend choosing a backup solution as soon as possible. Hardware failures can occur at any time in both new and old hardware. Yearly maintenance on your device can help to identify potential hardware failures but even then there is no crystal ball to determine when your hard drive will fail.
Save $10 during the month of November when you visit Jester’s Computers for a hard drive replacement, upgrade or backup drive solution. We are located at 5135 Fairfield Road right on route 116, call us at 717-642-6611 or visit us on the web at www.jesterscomputers.com