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The Psychology Behind Why We Don’t Backup our Data


Seagate infographic

A recent survey by Seagate tells us that 19% of men and 30% of women don’t back up their data. Of these individuals surveyed, a whopping 90% felt their data was valuable but only 10% of people back up these valuable files every day. Further contradictory to logic, most people (54%) know someone who has lost files. Today’s tech options offer countless easy and even free opportunities to back up data. Most people surveyed by Seagate use an external hard drive. Others use USB drives or cloud services. If most people know that backing up their files is important and there are plenty of options to make this happen, why do so few people follow through with backing up on a daily or semi-regular basis? The answer may lie in psychology.

For most people, data relates to some degree of emotional investment. Most people surveyed cited photos and videos as their most valued assets. Photos and videos capture memories that can’t be replayed or replaced if lost. With this level of emotional intensity, our human ability to reason and follow through with logic is significantly compromised. We may think that we are reasoning but instead we are rationalizing. We convince ourselves that the chance of data loss for us is less than it truly is. We distance ourselves from the possibility of a reality that we don’t want to consider. Further complicating our problem, there may be days, months, or even years when your data isn’t lost or compromised. Our mind tends to focus on these stretches of time as evidence to bolster our beliefs that more frequent backup isn’t necessary. This is called a confirmation bias and it can hold us in limbo between our emotional state of rationalizing (i.e. “I’ll back up when I have the time to get my files organized.) versus reasoning (i.e. “I’m setting up a daily back up system and I’ll sort files later.)

To achieve peace of mind and avoid a potential tragedy, allow your mind to trump attempts to procrastinate backing up your data. Your assets are valuable. There are multiple options for backup and daily backup offers the greatest degree of protection.

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