Backup before you loose it all

How would you feel/react if you got home tonight, switched on your computer only to discover that due to a Virus, Hardware Failure, Electricity Surge or Theft – ALL your photos, emails and documents were gone forever! Mmmmm…… No a good feeling.

Unfortunately in my experience as a “Desktop Engineer” for the last 20 years most people only consider doing a backup or investing in a backup system when its too late, usually after some or other event where they have lost data. Which one are you, Proactive or Reactive??

One of the biggest mistakes people make is that they think that if they put all their data on a external hard disk and the computer crashes or gets eaten up alive by a virus that their data is ok because they have a “backup” – data on a external device. NO – This is not a backup!
The only time you have a BACKUP is when you have a DUPLICATE of the data on a separate device.
The reality is that I have seen more external Hard Disks corrupt or fail due to the nature of it being portable etc. So if you are one of those people that store all your data on a external you are at HIGH RISK of loosing it all. One of the most common client comments I get is that say, “ oh, but I keep all my files on the external otherwise I make my computer slow if all my files are on it. “ – NO, the reality is that only if you exceed more than 10% free space on your hard disk will it begin to effect performance. So if you have a 500GB hard disk, there needs to be 50GB Free Space.

So when do you need to a backup and how often?

Well there is no answer that applies to every situation but for this articles purposes I would recommend doing a backup of your photos/data at least once a month or ideally once a week.
It really depends on you, if you lost 3 or 4 weeks of data would you be able to recover?
For mission critical installations I use MIRROR RAID configuration which means as you copy data to a hard disk it simultaneously is copied to the 2nd drive in the array. In the case of Hard Disk failure the 2nd disk just carries on working giving you some time to replace the faulty disk. This does not protect you against virus/deleting etc, only against hardware failure.

Hardware failure you ask? Your hard drive is like your clutch in your car, it cannot last forever. In fact the average life of a hard drive is designed to last 56 000 hours, in ideal, vibration, temperature and power situations. So that means there is a pretty good chance your hard drive will fail within 5 years.

Lastly a backup is only as good as the person and/or the software managing the backup routine.
There are many programs out there, some already on your operating system, some that come with external hard disk solutions and third party programs. My favourite program is SMARTSYNC PRO which sells for about $49

The most common setup I use for Photographers is a Mirror Raid configuration with a “Offsite – External Hard Disk”. This means your data exists in 3 places.

Contact me at if you would like some help setting up Mass Storage / Backups or need help with Data Management.

Wayne Holtzhausen ( APSSA ) – 0833711301



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