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So I saw a note from another tech guy on World Backup Day (March 31st) and started wondering what it was and why we have it. Now, as an IT guy I see the point of it but let’s do some digging here.

World Backup Day has all the sounds of a greeting card holiday for the computer world. Backing up is always a good option so why do we declare a specific day just for backups? Well, awareness is a good starting point and we need to remind people to check and test their backups. Also, in the past, April 1st has been a target for some virus deployments so a backup check at the end of March also makes some sense from a preparedness standpoint. Besides, anything worth keeping is worth keeping in 2 places so let’s expand this to say backup and backup off site.

So we all know what a backup is and to check that it is working but is there evidence that we need to backup. I did some digging on the Internet and various sources all have different things to say about hard drive failure. I think the data in the Carnegie Mellon University study was the most cited but you can find others by Google and interpretations by the 100s. What I get from my quick look at the data is that the average user may have a 9% chance of drive failure in the first 5 years of use of any given hard drive. After 5 years of use it may go up to 25% chance of failure. The lesson here is keep data on newer hard drives.

Let me take a further step and say a few words about what we see in the field. Machines older than 4 or 5 years make up a bulk of our calls for urgent support or clean up. The software loaded on them keeps growing and their load is much higher then when they were put in service. So yes, drives take more of a beating just from virtual memory use and overall reads and writes. But the machine as a whole becomes less efficient as a tool in the work place. When that happens we get more calls for service and your total cost of ownership for that one machine starts to sky rocket.

So please, backup your data and have that backup off site. The cost of off site backup makes good business sense. But also, look at the machines or devices that store your data and decide if now is a good time to update and upgrade. Data storage grows as files sizes get larger and drives need enough free space to cover your future needs.