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Why Should I Perform a Computer Backup?

By G. Wiesen
Updated May 16, 2024
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There are many different reasons you should perform a computer backup, not the least of which is the very real possibility of your hard drive simply not working one day. Computer systems, both software and hardware, eventually fail and your hard drive will likely stop working at some point, after which data recovery from the drive can be quite expensive. By backing up your data, you can make the switch to a new hard drive, when necessary, much easier. Performing a computer backup can also make your information more portable, since your data will be on an external source that can be easier to share with others or access from remote locations.

One of the biggest reasons you should perform a computer backup is because there is a very good chance that at some point your hard drive may become corrupted or simply stop working. Attacks from viruses, malware, physical mistreatment, wear from use, and numerous other factors can contribute to a hard drive crashing or dying. It can be completely unpredictable, and a hard drive that works fine today may simply be unreadable tomorrow. By performing a computer backup of the data on your hard drive, you better prepare yourself for the possibility of this type of hardware failure.

If this type of crash does occur, the data on your hard drive is likely still on the drive itself, but it may be irretrievable without the use of data retrieval software or services. These programs and companies can be very expensive, and ultimately you can save yourself money by investing in an external hard drive or similar storage device and performing a computer backup fairly regularly. Even if your hard drive does not fail or die, external storage of your data can also have other benefits. By performing a computer backup and placing your files on an external drive, you can make your data more portable or easily accessible.

Most external hard drives used in computer backup can easily be connected to another computer, turning your backed-up data into portable media. Some external devices can even be utilized on a wireless network, allowing you to use your backup system as a wireless storage device for more than one computer. There are also Internet services that will allow you to perform a computer backup by storing your data on their remote servers. This can allow you to then access your files and information from any computer with Internet access anywhere in the world.

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Discussion Comments
By SkyWhisperer — On Feb 13, 2012

@nony - I had a computer crash at work and was told that if I had really important stuff on the hard drive, they could try to retrieve it using one of the services the article talks about.

The problem is that these services are very expensive as the article correctly points out. But it can be done. The reason data retrieval is possible (in most cases) is that stuff on your computer rarely gets totally deleted unless you format your drive.

Did you realize that just deleting stuff on your computer doesn’t remove it forever? It just moves it to another location from what I understand.

By nony — On Feb 12, 2012

@MrMoody - I haven’t used it myself but my understanding is that you’re supposed to create a folder on your hard drive where you put all your stuff that you want backed up, and the service automatically backs up the folder.

The way I see it, the simple act of creating the folder and putting your stuff there is the first step to a backup anyway. You might as well do your own backups.

Just copy the stuff from the folder to a computer backup storage device like a DVD or even a USB flash drive. Those flash drives have increased their capacity in recent years so you can put more and more stuff on them.

By MrMoody — On Feb 11, 2012

@miriam98 - On the radio I keep hearing advertisements for online backup. Does anyone think that it’s worthwhile to go this route? I do have an external hard drive to which I’ve backed up stuff, but the reality is that even the external hard drive can crash.

Wouldn’t an online computer backup be a better proposition – and how do such services work? Do they copy your whole hard drive or only parts of it?

By miriam98 — On Feb 10, 2012

I can’t tell you the number of times that I’ve had computer crashes. In response to the obvious question, “Did you backup your stuff?” the answer would have to be “yes” and “no.”

I had some stuff backed up and some stuff not backed up. It’s terrible when you lose things like precious photos of your children, which are memories that you can never get back.

So now I make it a point to do a computer file backup at least every few months, and give priority to personal photos and important files like taxes and stuff like that.

I’ve been using my current computer for two years with no problems but I don’t doubt that the dreaded day of another crash is coming. This time I’m ready.

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