Conventional wisdom dictates that you should create and/or update emergency copies of your most important files on a weekly or even daily basis, but most of us aren’t nearly that meticulous. Many folks will go months or even years without creating backups of their data, and some people never bother to do it at all. Unfortunately, computer hardware is not indestructible, so if you don’t keep backups of your files and your computer experiences some kind of catastrophic failure, it’s very possible that you’ll lose everything that was saved on your hard drive.
The good news is that recovering files from a broken computer or hard disk is usually possible. However, here are five reasons why backing-up your data weekly or daily is preferable to having it restored when disaster strikes:
- Hard drive failure can occur suddenly and without warning.
A dying hard disk will sometimes display certain characteristics; if you notice them, you’ll know that the drive is on its way out. Common signs of immanent failure include:
- Files disappearing with no explanation or projects not saving properly.
- The computer having trouble “recognizing” the hard drive or accessing files within it.
- The computer freezing frequently, having trouble booting and performing normal tasks (e.g., opening folders, launching programs) extremely slowly.
- The computer making a kind of mechanical scraping, grinding or clicking noise as it works.
However, a dying hard drive may not show any hints of distress before suddenly failing, or the hints may be so subtle that you don’t notice them until it’s too late. Sudden accidents can also render a perfectly healthy computer unusable; laptops are easily dropped or stepped on, and a glass of water spilled onto your PC’s CPU can fry its internal circuity.
Bottom line: don’t wait until your hard drive is dying to try to back it up, because death may come so abruptly that you don’t get the opportunity to do so.
- Data recovery usually requires professional help.
Getting files off of a malfunctioning or busted hard drive is considerably more tricky than moving files on a fully-functioning one. Unless you have the skills, tools, and know-how to essentially “resurrect” the dead drive, you’ll probably need to have an expert do the job for you. Do NOT attempt to recover data from the busted drive yourself unless you know exactly what you’re doing! You may only have one shot at recovery before everything on the drive really is lost forever, and if you waste the opportunity by trying to “fix” the problem yourself, you might wind up just making the situation much, much worse.
- Backing-up your data is relatively cheap…
If you’re old enough to remember the days where floppy discs and CDs were the most common vessels for external data storage, you might also remember when flash drives were first unveiled. They were certainly convenient (and, at the time, amazingly spacious for their small size), but they were also expensive—it was common enough to pay $20 or $30 for a flash drive with a 1 GB capacity!Fortunately, it’s 2016, not 2006, and the price of external storage technology has gone down considerably. $20 can now buy you five 1 GB flash drives, and a 1 TB (equivalent to 1000 GB) external hard drive can be had for between $50 and $70. And if you don’t want to put your faith in physical back-up methods, another option is to use an online service. Google, for example, offers 15 GB of storage absolutely free, and 100 GB only costs $1.99 (plus tax) per month.
- …while recovering data can be extremely expensive.
Extracting data from a damaged hard drive, on the other hand, is a whole new ball game. Professional data recovery can run anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to a couple thousand dollars. Part of the reason that it’s so expensive is because this process is usually done in a carefully controlled, dust-free environment with anti-static measures in place; this helps ensure that the data remains “safe” during the transfer process. You also have to take into account the cost of labor, as well as the fact that you’re paying for a specialist’s expertise and experience. A licensed, professional technician will be happy to help you recover your files, but they are going to charge you for it!
- Data recovery can be a huge hassle.
What exactly do you use your computer for? Many people need their computers to complete projects for school or their job, but a lot of us also use them for leisure activities and for communicating with others. Regardless, when your hard drive fails and you have to turn it over to someone else for data recovery, the machine will probably be “in the shop” for at least a few days. Not only is not having your computer inconvenient, but if there’s some essential data that you need access to (term paper, work assignment, time-sensitive forms or information, etc.), you may find yourself in a major bind.Compare this to what happens if you back up your files regularly: yes, it’ll probably still take a day to replace the hard drive, restore your operating system and re-install your software, but your files will be safe and sound. They’ll be ready to download the moment you’re ready to receive them, and you can even access them from a different computer if you need something before you have a chance to set up your new disk.
Backing up your most important files on a regular basis is a very good habit to get into. While it may be time consuming, it’s not particularly difficult to do and it will save you money and aggravation in the long run. Data recovery (especially when you hire a professional to do it) is possible, but it’s not ideal. Simply put, it should be a last resort, not your only plan of action!
For more information about backing up files or data recovery services, give us a call at 817-756-2241 and speak to a technician today. Whether your files are fine for now or seemingly gone forever, Computer CPR can help!