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Risks To Data Go Far Beyond Drive Failure

Last updated 2011-02-26 - Send Feedback
Related: backup, laptop

It is a serious error to think that drive failure is your only risk. Other risks might be less common, but more severe.

At the home or office

Every one of these risks can be mitigated, but the vast majority of users address only the first one— drive failure.

  • Drive failure; the drive disappears along with all your data;
  • Power supply or fan failure (external drive); inoperable. Drive might or might not be OK.
  • Theft — your computer disappears, along with everything attached to it, like your one backup drive and that folder full of DVD backups.
  • Natural or unnatural disaster: a fire or wildfire or flood or tornado or hurricane or lightning strike or electromagnetic pulse vaporizes your computer and everything near it or in the same building or neighborhood; it’s all gone.
  • User errors (e.g., delete a file, save over it, etc);
  • Software bugs; the file is corrupted by the program (Microsoft Excel has destroyed many spreadsheets of mine);
  • File system — the file system (catalog) for the drive goes bonkers. File are corrupted or lost.
  • Confiscation — your teenager didn’t know the police would confiscate every computer in the house because he was running a “free” sharing service.

Special risks when traveling

When traveling, all of the risks above apply plus some special considerations—

  • Heightened risk of theft — the bag, laptop, the backup drive inside the bag.
  • Loss — storing your laptop or only backup in your luggage.
  • Damage — dropping the laptop, your backup drive, etc.
  • Backups — risks to backups you carry with you are high, because the backups are often right with the computer.
  • Downtime — your drive or backup drive fails while on the road. If you’re in a remote area, you’re stuck.

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