Dymin Blog

Do I Really Need to Back Up My Pictures and Files?

Posted by Mike Hurt on Jul 28, 2016 9:17:24 AM

 Computer laptop security bank vault lock

YES! Between 2% and 15% of all hard drives fail every year through normal use. This number increases exponentially with each year of age under a computer’s belt.

Since most of your photos, music, movies, spreadsheets, reports, client data, and programs are probably valuable to you, it’s vital that you have a system in place to regularly back up your data. This will keep your data protected in the event your computer's hard drive fails or your computer is lost, stolen, or compromised. Without backups, recovering lost or corrupted data can be time consuming and expensive—and unfortunately, even the best technicians often can’t restore absolutely everything.

Why should I back up data on my computer?

What if one day you woke up and discovered that your computer was completely and irretrievable erased? Hard drives can actually go bad for no particular reason at all—usually with no warning! It’s just the nature of the beast. It’s not a matter of IF your hard drive will go bad, but WHEN.

But if your hard drive goes bad, the data can be retrieved, right? Copying data off a working hard drive is no problem, but when a hard drive breaks down, recovering data is actually extremely difficult, costly, and sometimes impossible—by any means!

Data recovery companies often classify their recovery services into three tiers based on the manner in which the hard drive decided to break down. Many companies can offer basic Tier 1 data recovery services for $80-$150, but these methods are actually only effective in fewer than 20% of the instances of hard drives gone bad. For the other 80%, Tier 2 data recovery can cost between $500 and $1000, and Tier 3 data recovery can cost up to $2500!

How much are your digital pictures and photos worth to you sentimentally?
How much time would it take to recreate your lost documents, records, or school work?
How much money might your business lose if your client data and proprietary files were gone?

These are the questions you need to ask yourself! Even if you don’t have vital photos or documents on your computer, how much hassle would it be to start from scratch with a new computer? It might take hours or days to re-install all your programs and re-adjust your settings until you’re back to working efficiently.

I think many of us will agree, though, that a good backup strategy is an important consideration!

The Problem: We’re All Human 

Two of the biggest mistakes made when planning a data backup solution are 1) trying to manually decide what files to back up and 2) trying to remember to do it yourself!

The problem is: we’re all human. We have better things to do than always worrying about computer maintenance tasks. The result? It never gets done! And an outdated or incomplete backup is nearly as good as no backup at all!

Some of the common ways you might be currently backing up your data are CD/DVD discs, USB flash drives, and USB external hard drives. Turns out these are pretty bad choices, as we’ve detailed in this blog

The Solution: Automated Backups

The only solution that satisfies both our need for constant, up-to-date backups, as well as our human nature, is simple: it has to be automated!

Yes, a true backup solution should be constantly working on its own, monitoring your computer for changes, and keeping all your data backed up without you ever having to think twice. Choosing the right software to do the automation is important, because it you want it to be reliable. A backup system that quits working does you no good!

Keep Your Data Organized and Consolidated

Before you set up an automated backup system, it’s important to also know how to best organize and store your files. If your files are not all consolidated, it can be difficult to know if everything is actually being backed up. You might lose track of what data you have put where if you’re storing things in all sorts of different places.

Because your backup system should be configured to back up your computer’s entire hard drive, you can actually store your files anywhere on your computer’s main hard drive; however, when it comes to finding your data later on, a bit of organization can save you a lot of time.

  • Use the personal folders built into Windows. These are the folders that come with all Windows computers named Documents, Pictures, Music, and Downloads. These folders should be the main repository for all your files, and you can create your own set of sub-folders within them.
  • Don’t leave files on your desktop screen. The desktop screen is the screen with your background picture, where your computer first boots up to. Many people create folders or leave lots of individual files all over the desktop. It’s best to use the desktop screen for temporary storage and move things into your personal folders above when you want to keep them.
  • Avoid using multiple hard drives. Multiple hard drives can be difficult to manage and make it hard to know where your data is actually going. This may also cause your files to not be backed up if they aren’t put on the right hard drive. Therefore, having a single hard drive large enough to hold everything you need is the best strategy.
  • Don’t put files directly on your backup USB hard drive. If you’re using a backup system that includes an external USB hard drive, you should never use that hard drive should directly. Your software will put all the backups on it for you. Never put files manually on the backup drive, since they won’t actually be backed up!

Choose the Right Automated Backup System

There are many choices when it comes to what software to use to automate your backups. You also need to decide between using a “local” backup (where data is stored on another device at your home or office) or a “cloud” backup (where data is stored on the internet). Stand-alone programs like Dropbox, Flickr, OneDrive, Google Drive, Google Photos, pCloud and many other cloud storage services make it easy and cheap to make backups of your photos, videos, and media files. Other full-service cloud backup service providers can help you create a full backup of your programs, data, and files using their software to upload an encrypted, secure copy of your data to their server. Ultimately, the most secure and comprehensive backup system will likely involve a combination of methods tailored to your specific situation. 

Dymin can help you find the solutions that have the features, reliability, and price that fit your security needs and budget and help you with the initial software installation and data upload. We'll help you figure out which software products and providers work best for your personal or business data backup needs. We also sell a diverse range of hardware for your external data storage needs. Our team of expert IT service professionals has the knowledge and experience to help you find and implement the perfect solution to back up your valuable data—contact us today to learn more about how we can help you put a plan in place for peace of mind.


You’re going to back up your data going forward, but what about recovering what you may have already lost? Dymin’s dedicated Des Moines data recovery experts can help recover many documents, files, or other data that otherwise would be gone for good. Contact us today to schedule an appointment and see what we can do for you!


Anti-virus eBook


Topics: computer security