Hard drives rarely last beyond five years. According to an article by Extremetech, after 36 months there’s a 12 percent chance per year that your hard drive will fail. That’s important because think of how much stuff you have on your computer that you wouldn’t want to lose. Between documents and paperwork to photos and memories, the loss of a single hard drive can be devastating. Thankfully, there are some ways you can protect yourself from data loss.

It’s important to note that if your hard drive has already suffered a failure, you aren’t completely lost. You need to talk to a company known for hard drive data recovery. With their help, you can get back the important data that you need. Most companies don’t just deal in hard drives either; they can help with a RAID failure or even flash memory, such as a thumb drive. Protecting yourself before a failure is important, however. There are several methods of doing this.

The first way you can protect yourself is by backing up your data. You can either back your data up locally or by uploading it to a server elsewhere. If you choose to do your backups at your home, the easiest way is to do a RAID 1 setup. This is where you get two hard drives that are exactly the same size. When you write or change data on one, it is automatically changed on the other. That way, should one go bad, you can just change that drive out. With this type of setup, the chance of both drives failing simultaneously is very low, so your data will always be safe on at least one disk.

Another way of doing backups locally is to invest in an external drive and do backups on a set schedule. These backups can be weekly or even nightly. The thing to consider when setting a schedule is that your backup hard drive will only have the information up to the last time it was backed up. That means if you save something important, like transferring the contents of your camera’s memory card to your computer, you should initiate a backup that night.

Off-site backups are a convenient way to ensure you don’t lose important information. When you do your backup off-site, you are using the cloud. It’s easy to build your own cloud storage in just a few steps. A major advantage of cloud storage is that you never have to worry about your backup drive going bad. The storage space that you rent is run by companies who maintain huge rooms full of servers that are changed at regular intervals so your data should never be lost.

If you ever find that a hard drive has been locked due to malware or refuses to boot, there’s no need to panic. With a good backup plan in place, you should never lose more than a few days of saved data. If you do suffer a complete drive failure, however, data recovery from your hard drive is always a feasible option and can provide a solution when no other exists.