Backup Hard Drives Die Too


Just because you have a good plan in place to backup all of your data doesn't mean you can just stop there. Spinning hard drives will eventually die. And even before they completely die they can start exhibiting strange behaviors and throwing errors during operations. My point is this...if you have an external or portable hard drive you should be replacing it with a new drive on a regular basis. I replace my drives every 3 years. Why 3 years?

Chart is from the folks at BackBlaze, a cloud backup provider. These guys use a crazy number of hard drives and collect an amazing amount of statistical data on drive failures rates which they openly share every year. 

Chart is from the folks at BackBlaze, a cloud backup provider. These guys use a crazy number of hard drives and collect an amazing amount of statistical data on drive failures rates which they openly share every year. 

As you can see from the chart above, hard drives go through several distinct failure rate trends as they age. Early in the life cycle they have a higher failure rate because this is the period where manufacturing defects show up (bad production units). After the 1st year if your drive is still running you are probably out of the woods with respect to production flaws, so any failures are most likely attributed to the expected reliability of the drive's components. After 3 years you can see that the failure rates increase (or the percentage of drives that survive after 3 years start to rapidly decrease). A spinning hard drive moves a lot, and that movement produces wear and tear on the system. There is a reason most hard drive manufactures won't give a warranty on their drives for longer than 1-3 years. After year 3 you are on borrowed time.

So if you are using an external or portable hard drive as part of your backup strategy I HIGHLY RECOMMEND setting up a recurring calendar event for every 3 years to replace those drives. The last thing you need is to have your computer die on you and then find out that 4 year old backup drive that now has the only copy of your longer works. External hard drives are relatively cheap and your data in many cases is irreplaceable. So just replace your external and backup hard drives every 3 years so you don't ever have to worry about it. I just replaced all of mine this past week.

Last Minute Geek Gifts

If you are like me you aren't quite done with your Christmas shopping just yet. Hey, it's not my fault. My Dad made last minute Christmas shopping a family tradition. But don't worry, I've got your back. Below are a few gifts that you might consider if you are in a pinch for a gift for a geek in your life.


Everybody, and I mean everybody, should be using a secure password application of some kind. This past year the folks over at AgileBits released a new subscription service they call 1Password for Families. This is a monthly subscription service that allows an entire family (for just a few bucks a month) to each have their own 1Password account (along with as many of the 1Password apps on as many devices as they choose). The nice thing about this gift is that you can sign up for the service and set it up and then invite your family member to join your "family" on the service. Boom...easy gift. If you have a family member that is terrible about managing passwords this is an excellent thing to consider.

Cloud Backup Service

If you have a friend or family member that still doesn't adequately backup their computers (come on people, its almost 2017...get with the program) then a cloud-based backup service is a great idea. My personal preference is Backblaze. However, if you are looking for a solution that allows you cover a few family member all at once (as both a free option for additional people and a paid option that covers an entire family) then CrashPlan is also a very good choice. Either way, please please please make sure your family and close friends have some kind of backup. There is nothing worse than having to tell a friend or family member that all of their digital photos and videos were just flushed down the along with their smartphone. Back. Your. Stuff. Up!

Apple Music Subscription

If you have someone on your shopping list that is a music lover than you might consider buying them a subscription to Apple Music. Not only is it one of the best subscription music services out there but it is also something that you can purchase and have delivered instantly and electronically...the perfect last minute gift!


If you have a exercise enthusiast you are buying for then RoadID is something that they absolutely must have. RoadID is a product (it comes in many different forms like bracelets, necklaces, smartwatch bands) that serves as a means of identification in case you get injured while out exercising. It gives emergency personnel access to critical information (like your emergency contact phone number, personal physician and any allergies or medical conditions) so that they know how to best treat you in a way that won't put you at further risk. It is also a great piece of mind because you know that no matter what happens the person you want to know is immediately contact by the emergency personnel. I wear my RoadID anytime I am outside doing any kind of exercise. So buy them an electronic gift card for a RoadID, that way they can choose the version of the RoadID that best matches their particular style. Best of all, because it is an electronic gift card it is a very easy last minute gift.


BB-8 by Sphero with Force Band

BB-8 by Sphero with Force Band

Who wouldn't want a BB-8 personal droid? To top it all off, the folks over at Sphero released a special edition of their BB-8 droid this year that includes a "force band" that allows you to control your BB-8 droid simply by moving your wrist. This works great as a last minute gift if you have Amazon Prime. If you don't then check your local Target or BestBuy and make the geeky Star Wars fan on your shopping list extremely happy!

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