Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

What happens to your carefully backed up data if your house burns down?

Download the mp3


This is Leo Notenboom with news, commentary and answers to some of the many questions I get at

In a recent podcast entitled "Are you ready for your computer to be stolen" I discussed the needs for not only backing up, but encrypting your sensitive data. Losing it is one thing, but having sensitive personal data in the hands of thief is just as scary if not more so.

So by now you're all backing up regularly, and keeping those backups in a safe place, right?

A safe place ... in your house? In the same structure as your computer?

So what happens to all those backups and those computers should your house burn to the ground? Or a flood damage everything? Or a mudslide bury it in goo?

Backing up isn't enough. You need to store copies of your backups off-site. Somewhere physically different than your business or computer's location. That way if the worst happens you still have your data safely backed up.

Somewhere else.

It doesn't have to be hard. Every so often, burn an extra backup CD and give it to a friend or family member.

My wife operates a retail business where I also maintain the computer equipment. So some time back I purchased two identical 250 gigabyte Maxtor external USB/firewire drives. The computers here at Ask Leo central (my home), and at my wife's business each have one. Each night data is backed up to those drives. Then every so often I swap the drives. That way not only is my home data backed up off-site, at the store, but the store's data is also backed up off-site ... here at home.

Whatever your solution, I strongly recommend considering your disaster plan. Especially if your business depends on it.

You'll find links to the articles and resources I've mentioned in the shownotes. Visit and enter 8604 in the go to article number box on the home page. You can also comment on this podcast, or any of my articles ... I'd love to hear from you.

This is a presentation of, a free on-line technical question and answer service. Hundreds of questions and answers are online and ready to help solve your computer problems. New questions and answers are added daily.


Article C2365 - June 9, 2005 « »

Share this article with your friends:

Share this article on Facebook Tweet this article Email a link to this article
Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

Steve Davis
August 18, 2010 12:55 PM

I agree this needs to be done and already have a process to achieve it. I note that you recommend Acronis. Personally I find it difficult to understand and instead use Ghost 14.

The most important point to me is that for disaster recovery backups you should NOT be reliant on products using propietary file systems (e.g Ghost, Acronis). I use GFI backup (there are several others) as it saves files in their native format. In the unlikely event you have to restore them, you only have to copy them via Windows Explorer.

If you are already in deep trouble there is no point in compounding things by having to install (and possibly buy) software to decode essential stored data.

Bob Morris
January 27, 2011 4:03 PM

I have no idea how this could have happened but it did. I had 2 external hard drives. I go south in the winter and have a desktop at each location. Last April, when I got back north, neither external drive could be read. I figured I'm only missing 6 months data and I'll get it back when I go south in the fall. Got down here in October and my desktop hard drive is fried. I don't know whether to scream or cry or what. So, now I'm going to use an external drive and dvds, put most important files on a thumb drive and the top 2 gigs on a free online storage. I don't know what else I can do.....

Comments on this entry are closed.

If you have a question, start by using the search box up at the top of the page - there's a very good chance that your question has already been answered on Ask Leo!.

If you don't find your answer, head out to to ask your question.