The Importance of Effective Data Backup

Article (PSA-0001)
Submitted by: Billy Joe Long
Company: PSA Computer Services
Original title: Is my data safe?
Retitled: The Importance of Effective Data Backup
Original release date: December 19, 2012

Life insurance, medical insurance, and retirement funds are all ways we try to ensure the things most important to us are protected. What about your data? Most of us store things like family pictures, legal documents, important thoughts and expensive software on our computers. How important is this data to you?

One way to gauge the importance of something is to imagine it is gone. So take a moment, and imagine your computer is gone. What would you miss? If you can honestly say, “Nothing!” then you can skip this article. If, on the other hand, you have a list forming in your mind of things you would miss, then please read on.

With so many backup ideas and tools floating around today, it can be difficult to know your files are safe. The intent of this article is to help you understand some basics about data backup, so you can know if your files are safely backed up or not. In the following scenarios, we are considering the ability to recover data in the event of a hard disk failure. Let’s consider three questions.

Question #1:

“Is my data safe if I copy it to another folder on my computer?”
No, your data is not safe. Consider the consequences of a failed hard disk. Not only is the original copy of your data inaccessible, but so is your “backup”!

An effective backup of your data requires, at a minimum, two copies of your data located on two separate storage medium. For example, you could have your original data on your computer’s hard disk, and a copy of your data on an external drive. Other possible backup media choices include: cd’s, dvd’s, usb flash drives, extra internal hard disk, network storage appliances, and online backup services.

Question #2:

“Is my data safe if I copy it to separate storage media?”
Using the example of a failed hard disk from question #1, let’s summarize the process of getting your computer back up and running. First we need to install a new hard disk. Next we install the operating system, hardware drivers, system updates and your favorite software. Finally we attempt to restore your data from your backup media … only to discover the backup is corrupt or incomplete!

Testing your backup for accuracy and integrity is critical. Just because the backup software says the job is complete does not necessarily mean the backup is useful. Take the time to test your backup now, and save yourself heartache in the future.

Question #3:

“Is my data safe if I copy it to backup media, and test the backup for accuracy?”
Consider the consequences of a catastrophic fire or natural disaster. Your computer has been destroyed and unfortunately so was the storage medium containing your backed-up data!

Your data should be stored safely “off-site”, or, at the very least, in a fire proof safe. Storing a copy of your data on an external storage media and testing your backup for accuracy and integrity is a good start, but in mission critical situations an “off-site” copy is a must!

How important are your files? By keeping a tested backup “off-site” you can rest assured that even in the event of the unthinkable your data will still be recoverable.

For more information on data backup or if you would like a consultation on your personal or business backup process give us a call..


  • December 19, 2012: Initial Publication
  • November 11, 2015: Text Edits
  • May 24, 2016: Rewording For Better Clarity