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4.3 - Backup!

Your Hard Drive Will Fail

Anecdotally, this writer's experience is that your hard drive will fail.

In a class of about twelve students, there's almost always at least one who has had a recent hard drive failure.

Scientifically, a study by Google of 100,000 hard drives, showed:

• The rate of failure is higher for the first few months.

This was expected.

The following was a surprise.

• The failure rate for hard drives in service for only two years was eight percent annually.

8% doesn't seem to be a high failure rate, but it's one out of every twelve hard drives.

Similar results were obtained by another study.

So, you're hard drive will fail.

Read on, if you're not yet backing up your computer.

Backup at Your Desk or Online

You can backup at your desk using an external hard drive or online.

The latter is the most convenient.

Some photographers do both.

External Hard Drive

You may want to get two, so one of them can be kept offsite.

How Big?

This question is less important now that external hard drives are so large for so little money.

You can look for how much is on your internal hard drive.


Do the following.

1) Press the Windows key (flag icon) + e.

2) Right click on your C: drive.

3) Click on Properties.

Note how many gigabytes (GB) have been used.


Do the following.

1) Open a Finder window for your hard disk by clicking the hard disk icon in a Finder window, or clicking the hard disk icon on your desktop.

2) Select Get Info from the File menu (Command + i).

The amount of hard drive space used appears in the Info Window for your hard drive.

Backup Software

Two Types

There are two types of backup software.

1) Files-only backups

2) Mirror backups

Files Only Backup Programs

Files-only backup programs make a copy of your files.

The files include your photograph files, word processing files, music files, database files, and so forth.

The files-only backup programs don't back up the operating system or your programs.

Many external hard drives include backup software that backups your files.

Mirror Backup Programs

A few backup programs mirror everything on your hard drive.

Besides backing up your files, these programs backup your computer's operating system and all of your programs.

When your hard drive crashes, you can be up-and-running quickly.

You won't have to reinstall the operating system and all of your programs.

Reinstallation of the programs is especially onerous if many of your programs were downloaded.

Keep a Backup Offsite

If there's a fire, burglary, or other calamity, the external hard drive sitting next to your computer may be gone or useless.

You may want to use two external hard drives, with one kept offsite.

Or, use a single external hard drive and online storage such as those listed below.

Online Backups

Here are some online backup companies.

Backjack Mac only


Carbonite Windows & Mac




Google Drive Windows & Mac

iStorage Iomega


MiMedia Mails you an external hard drive for your files, which you send back

Mozy Windows & Mac

Nero Windows only



Time Machine Apple

Windows Live SkyDrive


Test whether the backup is functioning properly.

Try to recover a file.

Save it to your Desktop and see if it shows up there.