PC Pitstop Storage and Backup Survey Results

The results of our December 2006 Storage and Backup Survey are in. Our initial analysis of the survey data is found below.

An astounding 27.5% of people never backup their hard drive, and 13% do it once a year. Personally, I backup once a month, and I really should do it more often. I am the owner of about 5 PC's, and due to the law of averages, I experience about 1 hard drive crash a year. If you think of all the important information one stores on their PC's, pictures, emails, work, videos, it would be a crime to lose all of this due to procrastinating a backup.
Back in the old days, the only way to backup was by using a clunky tape backup, or 1.2 MB floppies. There was such a gaping hole that Iomega's Zip drive became an instant hit. The Zip drive fell way to DVD and CD writers as the preferred backup method. But now, we have the best solution, external hard drives. Introduced only 3-4 years ago, it is already #1. Given the improved transfer rates of USB 2, most people can backup their important data in minutes to hours rather than days.
No surprise here, slightly over 1/2 of those surveyed have had a hard drive crash. I remember the first time I burned my hand on the stove, and I also remember my first hard drive crash. All hard drives crash, but many of us still behave as we are somehow excluded from the dreaded hard drive crash. Although I don't burn my hand on the stove anymore, I still have lost valuable data during a hard drive crash.
Perhaps the biggest culprit of system performance is disk fragmentation. When your hard drive is severely fragmented, system performance can decrease by almost 20X. When you hard drive is full, things get even worse, because not only does your system read slowly, it also writes slowly. The good news is that our survey group is defragging at least monthly, but I have to question how representative this survey group is of the population. I sense that a lot of people are throwing away their PC's as their disk gets full and system performance declines, instead of just doing a simple disk defragmentation.
RAID enables you to have more than one hard drive in your system, and it makes an automatic copy of everything that is written to one hard drive to the second. It is called disk mirroring. It doesn't work for portables, but for a desktop it seems like the perfect solution for those of us that are too lazy to backup. Given how much the price of hard drives have fallen, it seems like a cheap insurance policy.

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