Risk of Not Backing Up

A while back, I discussed the importance of backing up a blog. However, blogs are not the only things that should be backed up. Many other things should be backed up as well. Today, I will be talking about what can happen if backs ups are not performed.

My family thinks I am kind of weird in a way. I back up things to numerous places, especially if the data is important. Of course, they had no idea how important back ups were until a recent incident. After that, they began noticing how my habit of backing up a lot is actually helpful. People, even in your own family, will think you weird, until they realize the truth of what you know.

Unfortunately, I cannot go really deep into what the recent incident was that happened, so I will just explain the basics. A family member runs their own business that provides financial services to people and has been doing it for years. However, one of his workers accidentally overwritten data, thereby losing much of the data that was important. They were confident that they could restore from backups, but backups had not be run in a long enough time that the data had to be reentered. Because of this, the business is not as productive as it normally is.

Yes, in the above situation, a specialist with both the tools and the knowledge could go in and retrieve the data from the fragments that remain, but things are not always like they are portrayed in television and such. It is a complex matter that I have no experience with, so I cannot really say if the time it would take would be worth the expense. After all, the most I have done, in terms of retrieving data was using a LiveCD to check the contents of a hard drive and turning an internal hard drive into an external, which was an idea I got from a book I have (it did not express the idea literally, just the difference between an internal and external hard drive) and somebody that has more experience at troubleshooting and fixing computer than me did not think of doing. What I can say though is that it would not be a good idea to have a specialist dig into the hard drive, unless the data the person has now is backed up already.

Another problem that can occur happens when switching to a different computer. In this instance, the person I mentioned in my post on getting Flash 11 without upgrading hated the online software the LDS church uses for genealogy these days and wanted to use her beloved PAF. Unfortunately, PAF is dead (downloads do exist, but updates have not been made in years) and the LDS church does not have a way to export data from their web app as an SQL dump or some other cross-platform and software independent export, like XML (it may support GEDCOM exports, but I need to verify whether or not it is the case). Of course, if they did, I would have to sit there and explain stuff to her as XML files do not generally have comments that document what does what or teach her how to perform SQL queries. The bad part though was that all of her back ups were on floppy disks, now obsolete, instead of optical discs (yes, there is a difference in the computer world between a disk and a disc). The person wanted a new computer, just to get the data off of her old hard drive, but that just seems like a waste to me now. This is what led to the latter method mentioned in the previous paragraph of retrieving data. At the time, however, I questioned if the hard drive was still functional. If it really did no longer work, then she would have been in a mess. A backup on USB or an optical disc, in this situation, would have made things much less difficult. However, thanks to that, I did find out that my idea to turn an internal hard drive into an external really did work.

Backups are very important these days. Not having them current can cost a business a lot of money, due to decreased productivity or the expense of having somebody come in and reassemble the fragments of the lost data. Having those same backups on various mediums, not just one, can make things like restoring programs from older computers and other data less complicated than having to wait for your IT professional or somebody else to come up with a solution that is not as costly and pointless as getting another computer just to retrieve the data needed.

What are some other situations that you encountered where current back ups or back ups on more than one medium could have remedied the situation easier than the solution you found? Do my examples of situations or stories I encountered provide a good enough illustration of why back ups are needed? Feel free to comment.

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