Niall Mulrine

Should I use backup to store all files?

Backup is one of the most important strategies to get right in the computer world.
The size of hard drives now commonly seen in laptops is 320GB in size and can reach sizes of 1 TB.

What do GB and TB mean?

Gigabyte is 1,000,000 bytes of data. Terabyte is 1,000,000,000 bytes of data. To put that into simple terms of files we use daily, our average Mp3 music file is 4,000 bytes and a Word document with 2 pages of text only can amount to 240 bytes.


We would think we could save movies, photos, music and work files at home more now.
Office environments were the only people that needed loads of storage in their backup systems to handle of work files needed and to have in place backups of backups.

Home users are becoming hungry for bytes. With digital cameras so common and mobile phones with camera and video recording, people are snapping and becoming movie makers and are then wanting somewhere to save these files.

Case Scenario one

Student Bob is working on his final year assignment and has spent all year researching articles, websites, books and videos to gain the amount of knowledge needed to do the best assignment he can to finish college.

Every night while working in the computer labs, he uses a 4GB memory USB pen drive to save all this work, so he can access it on all computers in the college.
He carries the USB pen drive everywhere with him. He holds on to it dearly so he can have quick and easy access to his work anywhere.

Is there anything wrong with this scenario?

First point to make, Bob is using ONLY one USB pen drive. There is no backup in place if the pen drive fails or he loses it. What has he to fall back on in the event of loss of data? Nothing at all. Maybe a few printouts lodged somewhere in his folder that accounts for 5% of his assignment.


On the other hand, he has the pen drive, but it will not work on any computer. Panic sets in and he runs to the IT department to beg for help!

They see his anguish and would like to help the student. They will run a few tests on the pen drive to find out if the data can be retrieved. Bob is told, that the last clutch of straws would be to send it to a data retrieval specialist.

But Bob is not totally excited with this news as the specialist maybe charging anywhere from €300 to €1000 to regain the pen drive back to its former glory.

No two retrieval jobs are the same so hence the different pricing. Bob, being a student, cannot afford this fee.

Bob is left with the sad outlook of having to do most of the research all over again.

In this case, he was using the USB pen drive that was meant to be a backup device, as a full storage device with NO backup in place.

How much would it of cost Bob to have two 4GB USB Pen drives? An extra €25 would have covered this cost.

Case Scenario two

Mary has 8 years of photo collection sitting on an external hard drive, connected to her home computer. She also has purchased music online and built up a fine collection of songs that would cost in the region of €500.

She recently attended her sister’ Maggie’s wedding.

Maggie is the only other sibling Mary has and it was a special day for her to see her only sister get married. She took hundreds of photos with her digital camera.
She has now become an expert photographer in her world and just keeps clicking.

Later the following day, she uploads her collection onto the external hard drive at home. After uploading photos, she formats the camera, ready for another photo-shoot the following weekend at her cousin’s 18th birthday party.

She feels safe that her files are safe, as people always kept telling her to buy an external hard drive so you can put all your photos on it and leave the computer clean, so it would work faster.

Problem arises, the next day the computer is turned on and the hard drive does not start.

Everything was put on this external hard drive and now it is not working.

She goes to local IT shop and is told the same story as Bob from previous story. She needs to figure out, if it can be repaired and can she afford the price.

In this case, she was using the external hard drive that was meant to be a backup device, as a full storage device with NO backup in place.

The one important note to take from these two case scenarios is; do not use a backup device for anything other than a BACKUP device. Make sure, it is only a backup to the main storage unit.

Data is too important to us to skip a few euros on a proper backup device.

Bob is now sitting in the library starting from scratch from 6 months previous and Mary has only memory’s in her mind of her only sister’s wedding day.

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