The Importance of Backing Up Your Files

The Importance of Backing Up Your Files

Backing up audio files in a tape archive
Photo credit: Jorge Gonzalez under CC License
Am I at risk of losing important data?

If you regularly use a personal computer, or even a tablet device, then data corruption and file loss may have been headaches you’ve dealt with in the past – and even if they haven’t, they’re very real problems that could affect you in the future. There are over a billion PCs in use worldwide, according to statistics released by Gartner, and other reports indicate that over 10% of them crash every single day.

We live in an age in which our computers are more and more central to our lives. But a 2008 study by Webroot shows that 20% of all PC users never back up their files, while a further 12% back them up less than once a year. This results in a huge loss of information, including photographs, music, addresses, and phone numbers, as well as important business documents and résumés. More than two in five PC users have permanently lost files at some point in their lives.

A computer crash is usually the reason behind file or data loss, but you may also lose files due to viruses, theft, software corruption or even natural disasters. The top ten most common causes of data loss among computer users are:

  1. Accidental deletion
  2. Computer viruses and malware
  3. Physical damage
  4. Accidental reformatting
  5. Head crashes
  6. Logical errors
  7. Continued use after signs of failure
  8. Power failure
  9. Firmware corruption
  10. Natural disasters
Can I recover lost files?

While you may be able to recover some lost files, this process can be both costly and time-consuming. The best solution is to preempt file loss, and prevent it from ever becoming a serious problem, by backing up your files. This way, if your PC does crash and your data becomes corrupted, you can simply reload the most recent backup to restore the data.

You can back up files on a CD, DVD, or even an external hard drive. You can even find software that can automate the process of backing up for you, so that you don’t have to worry about doing it manually – Windows users can take advantage of Microsoft’s free backup software, or, if you prefer, third-party developers such as Acronis and Code42 have published their own alternatives.

If you’d prefer not to back up your files onto physical storage, then you can use a service such as Dropbox to back your files up online.

What are the advantages of backing up my computer online?

If you back up your files online, they’re stored on a cloud server. This way, you can access your files from any computer in any place in the world, and at any time. This is a useful way to keep track of important files across multiple computers – you can work on a document on one computer at home, then edit it again later from a different computer at work, all without having to worry about copying the latest version onto a flash drive.

Online backups also allow you to share your files more easily with your and family. Even if a file is too large to attach to an email, you can send the recipient a direct link to the file’s location in the cloud instead, and they’ll be able to view and download it. And if you’re part of a group project at work, you can create a backup which everybody has permission to edit, allowing the entire team to easily view and modify the latest versions of shared documents.

Backing up files using an external hard drive
Photo credit: Roman Soto under CC License


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