Consumers Shun Backups, Study Says

Consumers may have priceless photo, music and video files on their computers these days, but they continue to ignore safeguarding them by backing them up on scheduled basis.

According to a survey conducted by Harris Interactive and sponsored by storage notable Maxtor, of Milpitas Calif., nearly half of all adult computer users in the United States are at risk of losing their data because they fail to make backup copies of it.

“We’re always surprised whenever we see people in any significant, meaningful numbers who don’t back up,” Jon Van Bronkhorst, Senior Director of Product Marketing for Maxtor’s Branded Products Group, told TechNewsWorld.

“To see that 46 percent of the respondents to the survey did not back up their content, yet admitted that their content was priceless, is a shocking metric,” he declared.

Plethora of Content

That number doesn’t seem to change, he added. Last year, a similar survey by Maxtor showed 45 percent shunned back-ups.

“We have this plethora of digital content that has blossomed through everyone’s personal computer environment, yet people still aren’t protecting that asset,” he said.

It isn’t as if these users haven’t lost data before. According to the survey of 2604 U.S. adult computer users, 43 percent acknowledged losing important data to viruses, or malfunctioning hardware or software.

What’s more, when asked to put a price tag on their data, 55 percent of the respondents pegged it at more than US$1000.

Education Needed

Consumers need more education about backing up files, according to John Christopher, a data recovery engineer with DriveSavers, a data recovery company in Novato, Calif.

“Everybody knows they should back up their data, but not everybody understands what a backup is,” he told TechNewsWorld.

“Some people believe that a backup is making an extra copy of a file on your hard drive,” he observed. “That’s not what it’s about, obviously, because hard drives are mechanical devices and every one that’s made today is going to die.”

As someone in the front lines of file loss, Christopher has heard a lot of excuses for not backing up data, but the most common is “I was just going to buy a backup device.” The second most common is “But it’s a brand new computer.”


Cery Perle, CEO of Spare Backup, an online service based in Palm Desert, Calif., maintains that backup advocates spend too much time and money trying to change consumer attitudes toward the process.

“Backup has been around for a long time so people know they have to do it; they just don’t,” he told TechNewsWorld.

“A lot of the reason behind that is that people just don’t know what’s out there and how easy it can be,” he noted. “So they’re scared off by the perception that the technology is difficult to do.”

Avoid Behavioral Change

Educating that perception out of the public mind can be a costly proposition, Perle avers.

Rather than changing someone’s operational behavior, Spare Backup is designed to be a “set it and forget it” application. You install it, it checks out your hard disk for likely backup candidates, and it ships them, via the Internet, to two geographically diverse data centers.

It will keep doing that based on a default schedule, as long as a user keeps paying his monthly fees, which start at $9.99 for one gigabyte of data.

“If the end user tries our product, Spare Backup does all the work for them,” Perle asserted. “Hence, we’re not trying to change a behavioral pattern.”

Best Practices

The release of the Maxtor survey is a prelude to its second annual “Backup Awareness Month” in June. As part of that program, Maxtor is promoting a “best practices” program for data protection. It includes:

  • Develop a backup schedule; daily is best, weekly a must;
  • Back up everything; invest in a storage device twice the size of your computer’s hard drive;
  • Invest in a solution that will do your backups automatically;
  • Rotate backups; store one of them off-site; and
  • Don’t procrastinate.

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