07/31/2013 10:49 am ET Updated Sep 30, 2013

The Psychology of Backup: An Interview with Eran Farajun

Have you ever had your laptop stolen? Maybe your friend has. What about spending weeks writing an essay only to have your hard drive quit on you? Or, in this case, an entire thesis stolen? These are all nightmare scenarios, yet why do many people routinely neglect backup?

I had the chance to talk about this to EVP Eran Farajun of Asigra, a Toronto-based software company that specializes in backup and recovery.

PS: I wrote a book on Big Data. What's your take on the subject?

EF: To say there is a lot of data being created by both organizations and individuals would be an understatement. Business and consumer life creates 2.5 quintillion bytes of data per day with 90% of the world's data created in the last two years. On Facebook, 30 billion pieces of content were added in a month from over 600 million users. YouTube had 2 billion videos watched in a month and Tweeters search Twitter about 32 billion times monthly. Most of this unprotected data lacks a solid backup strategy and from our point of view this can cause problems. A study done by the University of Texas found that 43% of SMB companies that experience a major data loss never reopen.

PS: Do companies routinely backup their data? Why don't people backup their data more frequently?

EF: That's a great question and I think for most of us, backup is something that is on the back of our minds. It's very much like exercising or eating well. You know it's important but you don't prioritize it. Of course, there was that story about Wired Magazine's Mat Honan whose digital life took a turn for the worse after getting hacked. One of his main gripes was not having a backup of his data and in particular he lost photos of his daughter's childhood. For us, a backup plan is crucial, but even more, the ability to recover data is of greater significance. Believe it or not, there"s a story of the lawyer who had all of his files saved on Apple's Time Machine, and due to a manufacturer defect lost all of his photos when his backup crashed. At the end of the day, recovery is everything.

PS: How does data loss affect a company?

EF: We've written about this a ton of times on our blog but a lot of companies don't even realize the implications of losing data. For starters, some organizations are under government regulations to protect, in particular, private data. If they fail to meet certain standards or if there is a breach, then the government can impose fines. And those fines can vary from a few thousand dollars to a few hundreds of thousands of dollars, even millions. Brand reputation is also something that can be tarnished from losing data. TD Bank lost critical data on nearly 267,000 of its customers, and that story made national headlines. Not to mention, the amount of time it takes to recover from a data loss or disaster scenario could be weeks, and in that time, if a company is ill equipped, a business could be out of commission and potentially out of business.

PS: How do you see current trends playing out?

EF: The amount of data that is growing year after year is almost doubling. For IT organizations this is going to create some challenges, including increasing costs. For them, they have to figure out ways to keep all of this information intact and ensure it's accessible. Technology that incorporates techniques like deduplication and compression can help with backup capacity but eventually the growth will become so great, costs will become unmanageable. Vendors that can lower the total cost of backup will make it possible for IT managers to afford their solution. This might require a focus on recovery or a new fair pricing model. Look for a shift towards the way Amazon or iTunes charges its users. Instead of paying for an entire album, you're only paying for a few songs. What if for backup, you only paid for the data you had to restore, so rather than paying 100% when you only restore 20% of your data per year.