Every PC and Mac user should install anti-virus (AV) software. It is an important security measure that protects your data and system from viruses and hacker attacks.
However, it will not protect your computer from the other SEVEN ways you can lose your data:
- Hardware failure
- User errors
- Loss or theft of a device
- Natural disaster
- Software errors
- Problems you may encounter when upgrading or updating your software
Let’s look at a few examples of how you can lose data. Your PC or Mac is stolen and you did not back up your data. AV software, which protects your data from digital “theft,” cannot help you now. However, if you backed up your PC or Mac, the only asset you will lose is your PC or Mac – not your digital data.
There is one point on this topic worthy of mention however. If you backed up your computer using full system image backup software, you can sometimes recover from a virus attack or breach by restoring the full system disk image you created prior to the attack. Next week’s article will talk more about full system image backups.
My Disk Drive Crashed!
Let’s inspect another way you can lose data – a hardware failure. The failure of the hard drive is the most common hardware failure that causes data loss.
Hard drives are more fragile than you might expect; they have several moving parts that can easily malfunction. For example, they use rapidly rotating disks coated with magnetic material. An actuator arm, with a read/write head attached, is pushed across the disk in tiny increments. The head receives electronic signals and records magnetic impulses in the magnetic coating. Your files live inside the magnetic coating on the surface of the disk.
There are many ways to lose your data if you drive fails.
- When you turn the hard drive off, the actuator arm parks the head away from the disk. If the arm does not park correctly, the head can come into contact with the disk and crash.
- A tiny dust particle can get jammed between the head and the disk surface, causing the head to crash.
- A sudden power interruption can cause the head to move unpredictably. This can also cause the head to write the wrong information.
- The circuit board inside the drive may fail, making the disk mechanism inoperable.
- Some magnetic areas of the disk can be damaged. While these bad sectors may not cause a head crash, you can still lose data.
According to a recent study, survival rates of hard disk drives over a 3 year period can be anywhere from 97% to 74%, dependent upon the manufacturer / model. That means that in the worst case, 1 in 4 hard drives can crash over a three-year period resulting in complete data loss.
How Can I Avoid a Hard Drive Crash?
- Do not remove your hard drive from the computer once it has been installed.
- Do not move, shake, or jostle your computer while it is on. If you own a laptop, do not move the laptop with the computer on and the lid open.
- Keep the inside of your computer case clean.
- Make sure your fans work and that there is no excess heating.
- Avoid turning your computer on and off multiple times a day.
- Use a surge protector to avoid power interruptions.
- MOST IMPORTANTLY, BE SURE TO BACKUP YOUR SYSTEM. If you do, your digital life will stay intact even though there are SEVEN ways to lose your data!