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Data Backup - Do I Really Need It?

Updated: Feb 4

It was the fall of 1984 when I was at the University of Minnesota - Crookston where I started to learn about computers and about computer data files. In the spring of 1987 I took a desktop publishing class at the University of Wisconsin - Stout. Although the two classes were very different, two things were the same, I created data, and I was taught how to make a backup copy of my data. Why would I need a copy?

Flash forward to 2020. My wife Julie and I have now owned and operated MacMan since December 1993. Computers are smaller, hard drives are bigger, processors are faster, file types are more complex, software programs are more powerful, and data is being created at a much faster pace. Still, why do I need a copy of my data?

The chart below is from the US Census. It is old now, but I think you get the idea of the trend with computer usage in homes. See the full PDF here.

computers using the internet
Backing up computer data.

It's all about the data. If all of our pictures were still only hard copies, we would sometimes take two or more pictures of the same thing. Why, incase one did not turn out, we wanted to share a copy, or if a copy was lost or destroyed. Same thing with those important documents. "Print three copies please." One for me, one for you and one just in case.

As we move to a greener way of doing things, our data is less and less a hard copy. We can quickly share files and make copies with ease. Sometimes we make too many copies and it's a challenge to manage everything. You many even know someone that shares way too much data. Still, why do I need a backup copy of my data?

Our dependency on our devices is greater now that it ever has been. It's a way we stay connected. But wait, it's easy to replace a device. "I spilled a drink on my laptop. Now it doesn't work. I guess I will have to replace it." That's easy. MacMan can help with that. What we can not always do is help you recreate the data. Yes, we can attempt to recover lost data, or data from a damaged device, but that gets time consuming and costly. Do you really need those family pictures? How important are those documents anyways? Do you really need your accounting records and your customers information? You have three print outs right? You have a copy of the movies on VHS or DVD right?

computer in 1995

Look at me creating data back in about 1995. The technology was different, but the data was just as important then as it is now.

Over the years, I have seen many customers with devices that have failed, been damaged, or lost due to a disaster. One flood, a few fires, many lighting storms and even theft. I could tell you stories about each, but I would like to tell you about two personal experiences I recently had. Yep, even me.

It's not that those of us that work in the technology industry are exempt for failures, it's just that we should know better on how to recover from those failures.

About three weeks ago, I was attaching a new external hard drive to my Mac. I needed to run a utility to change the partition and format scheme. As I ran the utility, it clashed with my other external drive with 2.1Tb of data. This caused corruption to the directory and I lost my data. Yep, all 2.1Tb of pictures, home movies, spreadsheets, text documents, customer information, employee information, vendor information, everything.

I then reformatted each drive and started fresh.I did not panic. Remember at the beginning of this post, I mentioned that I was taught how to make a backup copy of my data. There are two ways of looking at things. How something is done, and why something is done. Well, this was clearly "why".

Last week I was working late and updating quotes for a customer. I deleted a quote in our database system, which I had done before with no issues. Not this time. I discovered a "undocumented feature" of the software application and lost over 141,000 line item records. Wow, gone in a split second. This was customer sales and service information going back to 2009. Imagine the feeling.

I called Gary, our programmer and database wizard. Within 15 minutes we had all the data, but contents of 4 records, imported back into our database. We just opened up the most recent local backup and imported the data. The reason we lost some data was because it was not included in the recent backup. That information was still in my head and I could recall that.

Short term memory for most of us is good, but as time passes, we have a tendency to forget many details. This is part of why we use computers, iPads, and iPhones. We need to store information for future recall.

How did I get back my 2.1Tb of data? I did not have a local backup. The power supply failed on my backup drive so it was not backing up my data. This is way I was installing the new drive. What I did have was all my data backed up offsite on our Pulse Backup system. I simply logged on and started to restore my data from the data center. My data was encrypted, so good thing I remembered the passcode.

Now my data is back and being backed up using the 321 backup logic. This means I have 3 copies of my data. 2 local copies, original and backup. 1 offsite copy.

Time Machine backup software is built into every Mac. iPads and iPhones can be backed up to iCloud or your computer. You just need to turn the backup services on, and check them to make sure they are working. Most people and businesses that loose data are normally upset and have perfect 20/20 hindsight vision.

Why would you not backup? "Too busy." "Don't understand how." "Macs never fail." "I have never lost anything before." "Didn't know I needed too." "I thought I was."

You are welcome to come talk to us about backup and or data recover options. Keep in mind that backup options are much less costly than data recovery attempts.

Many backup drives for use with Time Machine start around $100 give or take. The more data you have the bigger the drive you will need. Bigger drives will keep more data for a longer period of time.

iCould backup for your iOS device is free for the first 5Gb. If you run out of room, spend the $0.99 or $2.99 for more storage. Restoring data from this is easy. Keep in mind that the backup will happen when the device is plugged into power and is connected to WiFi. We can help with this as part of our Advantage Mobile service.

Saving your computer data to iCloud drive is not a backup if it is your only copy of that data. Sure, if you have your data on your iCloud drive and you loss your computer, you can buy a new computer from us. We can even set it up for you and setup your iCloud account so you can access your original files. What happens when you delete a file from iCloud drive? You may have just deleted your only file. Yes, you may be able to recover the file within 30 days, that is if you discovered the missing file within 30 days.

Having a local Time Machine backup is the easiest way to backup and restore your data on your Mac. You can restore one file at a time, or all of your files. The software is built in, you just need the external drive.

Time Machine backup

Having an offsite backup is the best disaster plan. Pulse Backup can be configured to backup the folders and files you select. This speeds up the offsite backup process. Check out our Pulse page for more information about Pulse Backup powered by CrashPlan software. Backing up offsite is less expensive than you might think.

Code 42 now CrashPlan Backup Software

Data recover attempts currently start at $175. Data recover from failing drives can be from $800 to $3,000 plus. If you need data recovered, we can help.

Thank you for reading this post. If you would like to talk about backup options for your home or business, please reach out to

Thanks for your continued support.

Mike Ohren

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