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Article 3 - But what could possibly happen to my Mac?

To decide on your best backup method you need to peer into the future and consider what disasters may befall your data. These are all the different types of disasters I have seen that have ultimately resulted in data loss:

Mechanical failure. As mentioned in the first article a study found that 22% of all new hard drives fail in the first four years. This can't be ignored even if you have a brand new Mac.

Theft or loss of your device. Once its gone its gone, with possibly your only copy of all your data with it!

Accidental damage. This can take the form of a device being dropped or liquid being spilt on it.

Flood. Not just from the ground upwards but consider the citing of computers in relation to overhead water pipes, water tanks and upstairs sanitaryware.


Accidental or deliberate deletion of data. Probably the most common cause of data loss. We've all done it, you accidently overwrite a file or throw the wrong folder away. You may have to guard against employees deliberating deleting data for whatever reason.

Business Continuity. Although it is not really a disaster I feel it appropriate to mention in this section. What if you haven't lost any data but your Mac requires a repair where it will be away for a week being fixed? You will be able to continue if you have an up to date backup of your data that you can readily access from another Mac.

Not all of these disasters may be appropriate to your particular circumstances eg. an opportunist thief is unlikely to run off down the road with your 27" iMac under his arm, but I am sure you can envisage that most of them could happen to you.

"You really need to consider two backup methods to run in parallel if you want to guard against most eventualities, both an on-site and off-site backup."

On-site backups are where the device you are backing up to is kept as the same premises as the device(s) being backed up. This means that they can be locally connected to a computer or network thus backups are quicker and therefore can be more frequent. On-site backups are great for recovering accidentally deleted data, from mechanical failure and loss or theft.

Off-site backups are where the backed up data is retained at another location from the main computer(s). The data is either copied to a local device and then taken off-site or uploaded via your broadband connection to another location. Because the taking of the backup device away and bringing it back regularly requires a lot of user interaction, it often doesn't happen or gets forgotten about, so I lean towards recommending an automated off-site backup solution in almost all cases.

In the next article, I will look at the particular brands of on-site and off-site backups to find the blend that suits your backup requirements and budget best.