You backup your computer monthly, weekly or even daily, and you actually perform a test restoration once a quarter. You are “dialed in” on your backup procedures!!! One question – how old is the hard drive you are backing up your data onto? We often see customers coming in for data recovery that thought they had a good backup. They have suffered a drive failure on their computer or server and have come to learn that their backup drive has not been working for the last 2 weeks or even months.
It goes without saying that hard drives have a limited lifespan, but there is some question about just how long it is. Manufacturers rate their drives in MTBF. That is NOT an acronym you might use while texting. MTBF is defined as Mean Time Between Failure. That is a measurement of the Mean time that a random sample of hard drives might fail. MTBF for Enterprise level drives, those intended for use in scenarios where a failed drive is unforgivable, can be over 1 Million hours. Consumer level drives have a MTBF of 500,000 hours. MTBF can’t to tell you how long your drive will last, it is more of an indication of how likely a drive is to fail prematurely.
We see drives of all ages in our lab for recovery. So, I can tell you that all drives regardless of their MTBF will suffer failures. We have seen hard drives fail within a week of being pulled out of the anti-static bag. We have also seen drives still running after 10 or more years. What does that mean for your back up drive? It means that you just never know when the drive might fail. Only a hard drive genie would be able to accurately predict the failure and warn you to replace a drive.
The best way to protect the data that you are so diligently backing up is to pro-actively replace your backup drive on a regular schedule. Hard drives, both internal and external models, have become very inexpensive over the last 5 years. For less than $150 you can get a quality drive that will back up all the data you could store on your home or work computer. We have always recommended to our data recovery customers that they replace their backup drives every 3-4 years at the very least! The best way to make sure that happens is a very low-tech solution… take a Sharpie and write the date the drive was placed into service on the case of the drive. If you insist on being more high tech, then set a reminder in your calendar application of choice for a year or two down the road.
If you find yourself with both your main drive and your backup drive having failed give us a call. We can evaluate both drives to determine the best location from which to recover your data.