Two reasons why you should backup your data

Smashed hard disk drive

Already, the proliferation of smartphones and PCs has seen the creation of more data today than at any time before. With high-resolution photographs and video recordings, movies and documents, the amount of digital data for even the average consumer could easily amount to tens or even hundreds of gigabytes of files.

Yet it is all too easy to forget about the importance of backing up our data in the hustle and bustle of life. Or at least until disaster strikes and we come face-to-face with the unpalatable possibility of the permanent loss of our photos or work files. Before that happens though, we want to examine two reasons why we should always backup our data.

Storage drives are more fragile than you think

The first thing to understand about hard disk drives (HDDs) is that they are more fragile than most people imagine them to be, considering their metal chassis and heft. While there is no question that modern HDDs are marvels of engineering in terms of storage densities and mechanical precision, the basic principles behind their operations have remained the same: An architecture with read/write heads enclosed within a sealed unit with a fixed number of storage platters revolving on the same axis.

When in operation, the platters of a typical HDD spins around at 5,400 or 7,200 of rounds per minute, with the magnetic read/write heads floating aerodynamically mere nanometers – or a fraction of the width of your hair – above the fast moving platters. How fast? A back-of-the envelop calculation shows the platters speeding past the read/write head at speeds of over 100km/h at the outer edge of a fast HDD.

With this in mind, imagine accidentally knocking an operating portable drive off the edge of the table, or even setting your laptop a tad too hard onto the table while it’s switched on. While some users get lucky and get away with it, it is far too common for disk failure to set in immediately, or for issues to crop up in the days or weeks from the initial damage.

Data recovery is expensive

One option to recover data from crashed HDDs is to take them to a data recovery expert. While many of them are quite good, the truth is that not all data may be recoverable, depending on the severity of the damage. As it is, recovery attempts could be hindered by modern disk encryption technologies, or software encryption schemes such as BitLocker, which could well block recovery attempts in certain circumstances.

Even when data recovery is possible, the price of recovery may run into the hundreds or even thousands of dollars, usually quoted at an “all or nothing” basis. This can result in unnecessary stress as irreplaceable digital memories are weighed against the very real financial costs of data recovery. While on this point, it is worth noting that only reputable vendors should be approached for data recovery, as it is not unknown for lesser-equipped setups to bungle the job and further damage the HDD instead.


When all is said and done, all of the headache and pain of a failed HDD could be removed with a proper back up. With cheap storage drives and affordable cloud offerings, costs are minimal compared to that of not having a proper backup, and it takes a few minutes just to setup a proper backup regime.

This piece is sponsored by backup specialist Acronis. Learn about the fundamentals of modern data protection and best practices for data backup here.