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Training Users and Backup

Why is it that people only remember to backup data after they’ve lost it?


We’ve all had that conversation.


User:                “I’ve lost all my data because my hard disk blew up”

Admin:            “Did you do any backups?”

User:                “Uh …. No”

Admin:            “Then, unless you want to pay some serious money to get someone to retrieve the data from the hard disk that failed, you’ve lost it”

User:                “Why didn’t you tell me to back up my data!”


Given that people have been doing important work on their home and work computers for years, you’d think that performing backups would be as obvious to them as locking up the car when you leave it in the car park at the mall.  Many people’s computers now store not only their documents, but other important things like family movies and thousands of irreplaceable pictures. Do they perform backups?


Unless they’ve gone through the experience of losing all their data, the answer is generally no.


In general I suspect that this is because users view the integrity of their data as being the sole responsibility of the systems administrator. This is true when everyone stores their backups and emails on the server, but in many organizations, backups and emails are stored locally on computers and are only copied to servers if they are going to be shared with someone else.


All you can probably do is send out a monthly notification reminding people to copy up any important data on their computers to the server so that it can be backed up with the organization’s other data. That way, when they tell you that you didn’t tell them that they needed to back up their data, you can gently remind them that you tell them each month to back up their data and if they’ve lost something important, it is no fault but their own.

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