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Security stories

What Is Your Hard Drive Worth to You?

A recent survey found that the average computer user in the United Kingdom had over $1,500 of paid-for digital downloads on his or her hard drive. Over two million Brits store over $6,600 in movies and music on their PCs.

But are music and movies the most valuable items on your computer? Do a quick mental inventory of your hard drive. Can you put a value on the irreplaceable content, all the photos, letters and other one-of-a-kind files on your PC right now?

Our hard drives have become more than file cabinets for our digital lives, they are where we store the words, images and data that make us unique.

However, frighteningly few people back their data up. 47% of all Americans use no backup whatsoever, and 40% have lost files that cannot be replaced. Not backing up your data is a recipe for both financial trouble and heartbreak.

Here’s a quick list of the most valuable items on your hard drive. Some have a fixed monetary value and others are priceless.

1. Financial and tax data
This year for the first time more people filed their taxes online than through the mail. That means that for millions of Americans the digital records on their hard drives are essential to their financial wellbeing. If the only copy of your last tax return is saved on your PC, make sure that you have it backed up securely.

2. Work
Whether it’s your resume, your CV, your last cover letter or your next presentation, having to redo work you’ve done could spark a nervous breakdown. One spreadsheet can contain years of data. Finding that proposal you wrote in November could save your weekend. Think about all the work you have on your computer and try to calculate how much you would have to pay someone to replicate it—if they even could.

3. Music and movie downloads
Yes, some people actually do pay for downloads. Most download stores have policies to replace the media you’ve purchased. But that would require the investment of time to restore the collection. Most likely your music and video collections are a mix of stuff you’ve downloaded and tracks and films you’ve imported. Provided you still have the hard copies you can probably replace files. All that is required is time—lots and lots of time.

4. Family treasures
We live in an age when disk space has gone from kilobytes to terabytes. The drives on our PCs, phones and cameras are already enormous compared to the standards of a few decades ago. Add in the memory cards and web email accounts, we have enough storage to save everything we’ve ever come across. Yet somehow, we lose stuff. We lose prom nights, sunsets, baby pictures. We thought that we had a video of the dog as a puppy on a CD. We are creating new images and videos as fast as we can store them. On your PC right now is some irreplaceable image that you could lose forever, if you don’t back it up today.

Even if your insurance company could cover the monetary value of your hard drive, much of what you save has a value that cannot be put into dollars. Your time, effort and memories are all on your little old hard drive. What are you doing to protect it?