I suppose it’s impossible to put a dollar figure on human frustration, the burning rage of hours or days worth of work, decades worth of memories, or the required seven years of past tax documents suddenly disappearing for no apparent reason into a piece of complicated computer hardware: a failed hard-drive. Maybe tally up the cost of smashed nearby household items? Frustration aside, there is actually financial accounting to be had in a data loss incident, and it’s not pretty.
A study done recently by researchers at Pepperdine University came up with some figures. First is the cost of hard-drive recovery. It can often be done by specialists — the near four-percent failure rate of hard-drives has created its own industry. The average cost for a non-rushed 160 GB hard-drive recovery is around $1,500. It can reach upwards of $3,000, depending on how fast you need it. This is also assuming of course that your data can even be recovered, which isn’t a guarantee.
So, you’re out $1,500 (plus a replacement drive), but that’s hardly the end of it. Let’s just assume your time is valuable, even if your dead hard-drive is used only for home applications or even goofing off. Data recovery takes time, and that means time without your computer — time away from projects, communication, whatever. The loss is going to cost you something in those days of getting caught up. Come up with your own figure but, generally, we’re racing upward quickly from that $1,500 in lost-time costs. The Pepperdine study estimates that, in a business environment, a hard-drive trip to a recovery firm will cost an average of $1,750 in lost productivity. So, now we’re at $3,250.
That’s a whole lot of money for not being backed up in the cloud. Which is the essential cost-effectiveness of online storage: guarding against the failures of personal hardware. Figure that something like Google Drive (previously Docs) is totally free up to five gigabytes. Every 25 Gb after that costs $2.49. Pretty cheap. A cloud storage product like Norton Backup offers a whole lot more — like automated backups, time machine features, on-point customer service, and beyond — for a bit more money, but a year of it for $24.99 is a steal compared to the few thousand bucks of a failure. Even without a hard-drive failure, drive upgrade costs — to new, faster, and higher-capacity products — will outpace cloud subscription fees easily. Storage technology is nigh impossible to keep up with.
In the grand scheme of cost-effectiveness, there’s also the issue of connectivity. With the cloud — backup, drive, or otherwise — all of your machines/devices can be connected at all times to one drive which is amazing. Add up the time and hardware needed to keep a set of shared files available to five computers at once at any time — assuming such a thing would even be possible — and you’ve easily surpassed that $24.99 (or even the non-special $49.99 for backup) a year. And once again, if frustration had an easy dollar conversion, the situation would look even more lopsided.
Find out what your stuff is worth here.