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Using Hard Drives for Data Backup

When it comes down to personal files and data, most people still use their hard drives as a main method of storage. This is because storing data on a hard drive is easy and convenient. Dragging a file into a folder is something which most of us know how to do, it is also the closest available method we have as it can be done on our personal computers or even our spare hard drives. However, this method does have certain risks associated to it which can leave us prone to incidents of data loss.

Hard drives can fail

This is the first thing to know about hard drives, they can indeed fail and make us loose our data. This failure can happen on both a hardware and software level, which can have the consequence of making our files inaccessible; or even gone for good. Hard drives can break physically, especially older mechanical HDD’s which contain a lot of moving parts. Those drives have data stored on a magnetic disk which is read by an arm system, very similar to a compact disk. If a mechanical hard drive is victim of a physical shock (falling on the floor or even being transported with too much movement), the mechanical arm which reads the data from the magnetic disk can be slightly moved out of its axis, causing it to be unable to read the data any longer. Also, mechanical parts will suffer wear and tear, giving hard drives a limited lifespan.

Recovering a broken hard drive

Some people might think that opening the hard drive and putting things back together will get the drive to work again but the reality is that all the internal parts (especially the magnetic disk) are extremely sensitive to dust, finger prints and other external influences. This means that attempting to do so will most likely lead to the hard drive failing altogether, making the data very hard to recover.Of course broken hard drives can be recovered, but it is a job best left to be done by experts and professionals. The operations involved in hard drive recovery require a safe clinical environment free from dust and unwanted magnetic or electrical discharges. Most home environments are therefore not suited to that purpose.

Best alternatives to hard drive storage

This article shows that hard drives might not be the most reliable ways to keep storage over time and that there is a need to use other methods to keep our data safe and loss-proof. The best alternative method to hard drive storage is online storage, also referred to as cloud storage. This allows us to upload our data onto existing online servers which are catered for that exact purpose. Services such as Dropbox will allow us to store a certain amount of data for free; offering payed packages for bigger amounts of data. Their servers are designed to be fail proof; meaning they have spare copies of our data spread across different online drives. Should one drive fail, other drives will keep those backups, ensuring we do not lose our data. Cloud storage can be accessed from any online computer with the right credentials so not only is cloud storage safer, it also offers better accessibility.

This does not make using our own hard drives redundant though, but it shows that any important data should really be backed up multiple times to prevent incidents of total data loss. So whether it is using multiple hard drives or online cloud storage, the emphasis remains on the owner of the data to take the necessary precautions to make sure that their data is backed up safely.