Ahh... Peace of Mind. What a great thing, right? Want to know the best way to have it when it comes to your computer? Reliable storage drives and back up systems. Sure, you could just store all your important, irreplaceable stuff on your computer's hard drive. You might even have an secondary or external drive where you keep a copy of all that stuff. But, and it's a big but – what happens if they all fail?

Unlikely as that may seem it does happen much more often than one would expect. Hard drives are amazing little devices with incredible storage capacities. Problem is, it doesn't take much to make them go sour. Things like power surges, static electricity and electro-magnetism can take a healthy drive and wipe them clean or render them unable to mount – and believe it or not, multiple drive failures can be triggered by the same event and the same time! Today, the average life expectancy of a hard drive is right around 3 years.
Data backup and storage options


So how can you be ensure your data, the family photos and videos don't go bye-bye? Back them up! In the world of backups you're going to find three types: full, incremental and differential. For most, the right choice is FULL. Simply put, full backups make a copy of ALL the data files on your machine in a one fell swoop. That's what we recommend for most users.

For businesses or telecommuters, incremental or differential backups make more sense. Why? Neither makes a complete copy. Differential backups merely copy the files that have changed since the last FULL backup. Incremental backups only copy the files that have changed since the last backup whether that was full or incremental).

Differential backups take longer and use more storage space but should you need to restore, that will happen quicker. Incremental backups are quick and take up less storage space but restoration will take much longer as the system will need to restore both your last FULL backup and all of the incremental backups performed if a failure occurs.

If you're not sure which way to go, consult a professional to get the best possible advice. Need help? Contact us about your computer storage and backup needs in San Diego.

Things to know about updating your computer software

If your storage needs for backing up files lands somewhere between 100 to 500GB, this is probably your best bet. Economically speaking you'll be spending around 40 cents per gig to store your data. That's based upon that industry average life expectancy of 3 years for external drives mentioned earlier... some folks get much longer usage but others experience failure earlier, often much earlier. 


Costs for storing/backing up data from 500GB to 1TB drop down to the 20-24 cent per gig range using external hard drives (again, using the 3 year lifespan). Moving to an online/cloud-based solution would run about 36 cents a gig. Question you have to ask yourself is do you need to access that data on the go, without your computer on hand? If so, the extra cost of cloud-based storage and backup may be the better choice.


For storage needs exceeding 1TB, external drive costs come down to about 12 cents a gig (using that same 3 year lifespan). That's quite a savings over the Standard, right? Yes it is but it pales in comparison with cloud-based storage and backup plans. That same amount of storage using an online plan comes down to around 4 cents per gig. No question here... going cloud is the smart way to go.

External drives, including RAID arrays, still have their place in the rapidly advancing computer age. Having your stuff readily available on an external drive is quite important when bandwidth issues are a concern. Also, speed of restoration plays a big role. With a properly optimized external drive system you can get all that info back on your system hard drive much faster than you could with a cloud-based system that is limited by the speed of your internet connection. You can also access the damaged/lost files immediately with external drives. If you had to download a 50GB file from your cloud, you're in for a pretty long wait before you can use it.

There is little doubt that cloud-storage is the wave of the future. For the typical user with about 1TB of storage needs and a very fast internet connection, the slightly higher cost of cloud-storage vs Raid is worth it and it does provide greater reliability. Whatever you choose to do, ALWAYS backup... ALWAYS. Use software to schedule automatic backups on a daily or weekly basis (like Apple's Time Machine). Trust us, you'll be glad you did when a hard drive failure comes your way… and it most certainly will.

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