Buy a Hard Drive Each Year

Opinion: Hardware is cheap, but your data is priceless. ExtremeTech's Loyd Case lays out the argument for buying a new hard drive every year.

Not long ago, I wrote a piece about ATA RAID ("RAID Goes Mainstream"), where I discussed some of my experiences with Intels recent release of ICH5R. I also outlined a few tips as to how to set up motherboard-down RAID.

That spawned a very interesting discussion about reliability and backup. A couple of readers rightfully took me to task for suggesting that a RAID 1 setup could substitute for a good backup regimen. It cant, of course, because good backups are archives that allow you to retrieve old or deleted files.

But this isnt about backup strategies. Its about the commoditization of PC hardware components.

The Sub-$2000 PC
That headline above seems odd in todays environment. As weve seen, you can build a killer PC for $1200, and a pretty damned good one for $800 -- including monitor. It was only a couple of years ago, though, that you needed to spend close to $2,000 to buy or build a high performance PC. Sub $1,000 systems existed, but their performance in demanding multimedia and game applications were seriously lacking.

So when you bought a PC a few years ago, youd buy it with the idea that it would have to last you three to five years. After all, $1,500 - $2,500 was essentially a capital expense. Of course, you could upgrade individual components over the years, but for the most part, youd stick with the system you had until there were compelling reasons to upgrade. Even PC game players -- who tend to upgrade more frequently -- would stick with a system for two to three years. If they upgraded at all, they would drop in the latest and greatest graphics card.

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