Just as literally billions of people were caught unprepared for the coronavirus outbreak, many are also unprepared for a data disaster. Sure, many professionals are prepared, but many others just think they are.
The old idiom "never say never" comes to mind. It surprises me how many professionals that use computer systems daily have no idea about some of the basics of computer use. Sure, sometimes, you can go years without any maintenance. So can your car, but we all know that eventually, it's going to break down, especially if you don't put oil in it.
Cloud storage company BackBlaze uses consumer-level drives for its storage and wrote an article about its hard-drive lifespan. It found that 5.1% of drives failed in the first 1.5 years. More worrisome is that only 78% of drives lasted four years. That means that 22% died. They also predicted that after six years, only 50% of the drives would survive. Simply put, a consumer hard drive is not built to last forever. They will die. BackBlaze also publishes quarterly stats on their hard-drive failure rates.
You Need a Backup Strategy
Yes, you've heard it a million times. Now that so many people are working from home during the coronavirus outbreak, maybe now is the time you should be evaluating your backup strategy. There are a ton of articles on Fstoppers about backing up your computer, so there's no need here to go over that again.
Look at the lead image for this article again. Those are just some of my old drives from just the last eight years that I replaced because they were dead or dying. Some of them were the backup drives that I found were failing when I tried to restore from a backup. That's not a good time to find out that your backup drive is dying. Luckily, I had a second backup location. The failing backup drives had over 50,800 hours of use on them - that's 5.8 years of continuous spinning.
A Backup Is Not a Backup if You Can't Restore From It
There's no point in putting something in a safe place if you can't get it back. If you have a backup, you need to make sure that you can restore files from it. You need to test it. You need to make sure that you can restore your files.
All too often, I've encountered people that had a computer failure and didn't have a backup. Of those that thought they had a backup, most had never tested it. It's not uncommon to have a backup method only to find out that it won't restore, or that you don't even know how to access the backups to do a restore.
I once accidentally deleted all of my niece's wedding photos. Yep, nuked them with shift-delete. I had selected a folder and accidentally hit the up arrow right before delete. In under two minutes, I had restored them from one of four backup locations.
Use this time to prevent a disaster. Figure out a backup plan. If you already have a backup plan, maybe now is a good time to verify your backups. If your backup drives are getting old, consider replacing them.