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Common Causes of Backup Failure

Despite a growing familiarity with IT in general, consumers and businesses alike are still struggling to backup their data. Whether it's a lack of understanding the advanced nature of data backup or the inability to recognize its importance, we still have a long way to go before our data is safe. The recent pandemic certainly didn't help, either.

According to a recent study, 58% – more than half – of all enterprise backups fail. To make matters worse, 14% of enterprise data isn't even backed up to begin with. While consumer numbers are difficult to pinpoint, they're likely similar – if not even worse – than these statistics. In either case, most enterprise- and consumer-level systems tend to suffer from similar issues.

Hardware or Media Failure

Hardware and media failure remain amongst the most common causes of data loss. This is especially true when these devices are used to store data specifically for backup purposes. It's important to remember that physical media isn't meant to last forever. Although some formats have a longer shelf life than others, they're all still susceptible to damage or shear age.

There are several strategies you can take to try and mitigate the impact of natural device or media failure. Uploading your data backups to the cloud is a great solution, but it can be costly – in both time and money – for larger data archives. In a home setting, it's recommend to replace your backup media – whether it's a DVD, Blu-ray, or hard disk drive, or flash drive – on a regular basis.

Human Errors and Common Mistakes

Unfortunately, human errors and common mistakes still rank amongst the most common causes of data loss, too. Not can issues arise during the actual data backup process, like forgetting to include specific files or folders or misunderstanding your backup software, but mistakes can happen after the backup has already been completed, too.

The key to avoiding human errors and common mistakes is education. In an enterprise or home setting, make sure your end-users have a basic understanding of IT systems, data storage, and data backup. Moreover, make sure your infrastructure is managed by a professional.

Software Updates and Changes

In some cases, specialty backup software relies on proprietary systems and file formats to store data. This is often used to achieve data compression, which allows them to store more data while consuming less hard drive space, but it can be used for other reasons, too. Regardless of the purpose, applying future updates to your software – or changing your backup software altogether – might render your past backup files inaccessible or, in some cases, corrupt.

To avoid this issue, make sure you consistently use the same backup software. When new updates are released, try to wait a few days or even a few weeks before installing the update on your end. This gives developers enough time to fix some smaller issues while giving you plenty of time to review actual user feedback on each specific update.

If changing to new backup software altogether, make sure you backup and test your new archive before committing to the change. This gives you the opportunity to revert if necessary.


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