In honor of this year’s second Friday the 13th that’s nearly upon us, I wanted to share with you a ghastly tale of the absolute worst data loss incident I’ve ever experienced. It was a number of years ago now, but it remains in my mind as clear as day (as these things tend to do) because this is the reason why I will always be a staunch supporter of effective BDR solutions.

At times, you may be shaking your head or screaming at your screen as you read this, because I learned a few things the hard way. But, rest assured, I learned a lot of lessons I’ll never forget. 

WARNING: Some of the content expressed in this blog post may be unsuitable for MSPs offering true business-grade data protection...

Backup Back-Story

It was the summer of 2007, and I had just acquired a beauty of a new laptop. It was a great machine then, and even had a whopping 80 GB(!) hard drive. Even for the time, this was some small storage space for an audiophile like myself, so I began to look at my options.

Consumer cloud storage was a nascent offering back in those days (how times have changed), so it just wasn’t a viable option for my expanded storage needs. Instead, I opted for an “expansion” hard drive, as it was touted in those days, to add an additional 100 GB to total my storage space. As far as I was concerned, this was an optimal situation! The drive was plug-and-play and powered through USB, so it was quick and easy to hook up to my hard drive to access those larger files—you know, music, photos, PDFs of early writing pieces, and various other things of value. As it turns out, all the things you’d actually want to preserve for posterity were of large file size back then. So, after a short time I decided to “archive” all of these important files on the external hard drive to preserve them for posterity, thus freeing space on my laptop and backing them up in one fell swoop.

Related: Don't Let Clients Rely on Luck When It Comes to BDR

Backing up your files is responsible, right? What could possibly go wrong?

At this point, let me back up for a moment. Early on in my pre-teen years, I started learning how to build computers by hanging out at places that have become known as “screwdriver shops,” those mom-and-pop, white-box computer component and fix-it stores. I bought my first 14.4 modem from Computer Shopper and thought it was weird when I no longer had the choice to boot Windows from a DOS prompt. I say all of this to say that while I was no master programmer, I knew my way around a computer. Yet, for all that experience, I had never had a hard drive fail and never really worried too much about backups. Until just a few years prior, I had not owned a digital camera, and my music collection was only recently ripped from their discs. Why spend the time and multiple CD-Rs backing up save states of Quake and the like?

However, by 2007, that had all changed. I had years of photos accumulated of family and friends, I had years of college coursework plus a burgeoning writing career, I had thousands of songs ripped from iTunes, as well as years recorded music I had laid down in studios and at live shows with former bands I had now left—some of which I considered the best work I’d ever done. So, I figured that moving it to the external hard drive was the way to go. It was MADE for this!

Related: Have You Outgrown Your Current Backup Solution?

The Day (and Sound) I'll Never Forget


That was the sound my external hard drive made the day it failed. It came without warning and with no discernible reason. One day I had years of my life on this drive, and the next, it was just gone. I sat dumbfounded at the realization of just how much was lost. I tried every home-grown solution I could find to retrieve the data; I even sealed the drive in a freezer bag and left it in my freezer for hours because a friend of a friend heard that sometimes works. I was desperate.

It didn’t work. A professional drive restoration company also consulted me that the damage was physical and extensive and therefore could not be retrieved.

I had broken the cardinal rule of backing up data: redundancy.

I had one single point of failure, and it failed spectacularly. Minutes after the hard drive failed, I realized just how naïve my outlook on storage and backup were, and I quickly became a self-educated expert on BDR solutions. Because after all, what I lost was priceless, so keeping it safe will always be a good value.

Lesson Learned

Since then, I’ve taken a new outlook on backups and storage; they are ephemeral, temporary modes of data transmission, a short-term area that is always—always—fully backed up to a reliable cloud BDR solution. It’s not 2007 anymore, and the capabilities and options for cloud-based BDR has never been more viable and exciting. I’ve actually been able to weather two other hard drive failures since that fateful day, and have saved the data of multiple relatives and friends as well. I actually still have that first destroyed hard drive stored airtight in the back of one of my closets, much like Ted Williams and Walt Disney, just waiting for a day in the far-flung future where heavily damaged HDD platters can be easily and effortlessly restored.


Now, imagine if I was an SMB back then. Data loss can cripple a business, and extensive, irretrievable data loss like I had would shatter many companies. With the amount of data an SMB generates in 2015, the financial loss due to a break in business continuity is just untenable.

Related: Keep Client Business UP UP & Data Loss AWAY: A BDR Infographic Novel [SlideShare]

As an MSP, virtually every client you provide services to requires an effective BDR solution. It is an amazing opportunity to increase your service offering (and expand profit margins) while implementing an efficient cloud backup solution that’s simple to install and maintain. Because until the unthinkable actually happens, many SMBs are like I was back in 2007: not considering the effects of a massive data loss. You can be there with the solutions and expertise they need to prevent another BDR horror story.

Have a BDR horror story of your own? Sound off in the comments below!


Hope for the Best, Plan for the Worst: The Keys to Effective Backup & Disaster Recovery