Lack of backups will result in data loss. But will it be missed?


I just read an interesting column by Dvorak over at PC Magazine about the increasing size of crap on our drives. One of the things I’m missing in his article is the size of todays operating systems. I manage to remember the times of Windows 3.1 and Dos which came on a bunch of floppy disks. Today we need DVDs to install our OS and applications.

Also look at games, years ago a CD was enough to ship an awesome timekiller. Today they arrive in the form of dual-layer DVDs or a Blu-ray Disc. We just don’t really care about the size of an application (or game) anymore. Just insert a new drive and install away. Drives are getting larger and at the same time the cost per gigabyte is coming down.

What most people forget – or have trouble to implement – is a backup. There was a time when you could easily backup your system onto a single CD-R. Nowadays even a Blu-ray cannot match current hard drives. At some point the innovation in the optical disc department for some reason came to a halt. If you want to create a backup today, we need to put it onto hard drives. The only people who might be able to use optical storage for backup are notebook users, but even the capacity of 2.5″ drives is increasing quarterly – even 300+ GBytes are available in that factor and cheap.

In addition to my small 100 GByte drive in my notebook I have two external drives which are almost always connected to the system. Their upgrade is also in the planning/on the way. It’ll be a safe(r) place for my data than the current setup. At the same time I find myself constantly pushing the upgrade to that 320 GByte drive away, but maybe that’s just me being too cheap.

Filling up gigabyte after gigabyte is no problem. Take a random photowalk. Putting ~300 photos on a single CF card isn’t a problem. That’s about 4 GByte on an average day. This data accumulates after a while and the first sorting through these images only removes the really obvious showstoppers. Maybe I’m not brave enough to delete the “not so nice” photos, but I find myself going back to old photowalks more often and start processing them.

To get back to John’s column, I also think that, as a result of the lack of a backup, files will get lost but in many cases won’t be missed.