A Backup Strategy

A Backup Strategy

According to the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, 93% of companies that lost data from their computer systems for more than 10 days filed for bankruptcy within one year. That appears to be confirmed by the University of Texas, whose study says the figure is 94%—43% immediately plus another 51% within two years. 


My own calculation among my clients who have lost their data to a hard disk crash or ransomware attack is closer to 99.9%. For the most part, all my clients who suffered a data loss and did not have a backup plan ended up losing everything. Fortunately, most cases I have dealt with have been individuals who only lost sentimental value, while my business clients who have been hit with ransomware have all managed to survive, albeit injured.


Choosing the best backup or disaster recovery plan for you depends on what I refer to as your “threshold of pain.” If all of your photos hold only a small bit of sentimental value, then you might choose not to go to the trouble and expense of backing them up. But if your accounting and business records would take dozens or hundreds of hours to recreate, then you need to consider adopting a reliable backup strategy and using it.


In the last decade, the emergence of ransomware has dramatically changed both the need for backups and the best strategy. Sophisticated ransomware infects your computer, then spies on your activities for days or weeks before it strikes. One of the reasons for this is that ransomware tries to access your backup strategy so it can not only infect your computer but also your backups. Figures obtained from Boston Computing Network indicate that well over half of backups cannot be restored for this reason or unrelated technical and mechanical problems.


Any backup strategy that runs automatically is subject to this problem, meaning that online cloud backups are not the most reliable. Sorry, but convenient is not secure. The best and most secure backup is air-gapped, meaning that you need to plug in a backup device, then disconnect it for secure storage not connected to your computer or the internet.

The 3-2-1 backup strategy means having at least three total copies of your data; the original on your computer, one backup you can keep on the shelf or in a drawer, and a third backup kept off-site. MacOS comes complete with TimeMachine, and there are a number of good backup programs available for Windows. What is important is to use one correctly according to 3-2-1.

Equally important is determining the importance of your documents, photos, videos, etc., then taking appropriate measures to protect against loss depending on the value of that data.


Charles Miller is a freelance computer consultant, a frequent visitor to San Miguel since 1981, and now practically a full-time resident. He may be contacted at 415 101 8528 or email FAQ8@SMAguru.com.