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Why People Don’t Back Up Their Data

November 17, 2022

severe head crash in a hard driveAt, we’ve developed industry-leading technology to recover data from hard drives, flash drives, solid-state drives (SSDs), RAID arrays, and practically every other type of storage device. Over decades in the business, we’ve handled cases for Fortune 100 companies, small businesses, and private consumers.

When we discuss our industry, we often encounter a simple question: Why don’t people just back up their data? 

It’s true that a thorough backup policy can negate every data loss scenario, and we often advise our clients to take steps to prevent future disasters. However, we also have empathy for people who make mistakes. 

As of 2018, only about 34% of U.S. adults backed up their data on a regular basis. 24% of consumers didn’t back up their files at all, and it’s likely that many responsible computer users utilize poor backup practices that put their data at risk. 

Below, we’ll explore some of the reasons why people fail to adopt reasonable backup practices (and provide a few quick tips for protecting your data).

1. Data backup takes time, even if it saves time in the long run.

We recommend keeping at least three copies of important files, including one offsite copy (via an online backup service, an external hard drive stored offsite, or another method). Unfortunately, creating multiple copies of data takes time. 

Even with a well-outfitted machine, backup may take hours. If you’re leaving the office, you can schedule backups to complete overnight — but if your organization has a policy that requires computers to be turned off, that’s not an option. 

For that reason, backup software is virtually essential. While you can back up your files manually, at some point, you won’t have the time to complete the process — automatic backups limit the chance of human error.

Related: 6 Data Backup Mistakes That Increase Your Risk of Data Loss

2. People assume that their data’s already backed up. 

If you’ve got a smartphone, you may assume that your photos, videos, and other important files are backed up to the cloud. That may be the case — but if you don’t configure your backups, your operating system might not target the right files. 

While modern computer systems have advanced tools for protecting data, many consumers simply don’t use these tools; they assume that since they’ve paid for the operating system, they’re already protected. Even fairly robust solutions like Apple’s iCloud require some setup. 

Related: 7 Data Recovery Myths, Busted: Understanding Data Loss

3. Most people rarely check their data backups.

Here’s a simple rule of thumb: If you’ve never taken the time to check your backups, you should assume that you don’t have backups

Every six months or so, test your backups to make sure that you could restore your files if necessary. Make sure you have passwords for all cloud backup services. If you have physical backups, make sure they’re operational and consider scanning for potential hardware issues.

You should also consider unconventional data loss scenarios. For example, a ransomware infection could quickly spread to connected devices — including the external hard drive or SSD you’ve been using for backup. Planning for these scenarios can make your disaster recovery strategy more robust (and give you peace of mind). 

4. People rely on a single backup of their most important files.

If the data’s important, a single backup isn’t enough. Strange things can happen — and we’ve encountered hundreds of cases where clients insisted that they “had a backup,” but the backup failed for various reasons.

If you keep a single backup of your files, you are improving your chances of a successful data recovery; if our engineers can’t recover data from the original storage device, they have a second option. However, the best tactic is to keep at least three copies. 

Here’s the good news: In the vast majority of data loss scenarios, files are completely recoverable. provides free media evaluations, and our no data, no charge guarantee ensures that you don’t pay if your files aren’t retrievable.

Of course, a solid backup strategy helps you avoid data recovery entirely — but when the unexpected occurs, we’re here to help. Call us at 1-800-237-4200 or submit a case online to schedule a free evaluation.