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How Much is Your Data Worth?


Although it's almost a rhetorical question like how long is a piece of string, the question "How Much Is Your Data Worth" is an interesting philosophical concept and it's worth having a think about this, especially before the crunch where you have a data loss and have to consider the cost of a data recovery. In fact, even thinking about it may help to save you from having such a problem in the first place.

Well obviously it depends what kind of data it is! For example, if you've got a file of data that you've spent a week typing in to your computer by copying it from printed material, then it would be worth however much a week of your time is worth. The point is, though, that it is replaceable, and the value can be calculated. It's a bit like in home insurance, where your television has been destroyed by flood, the replacement cost can be found by contacting electrical shops. What's a much more worrying problem is the value of the family photo that was on top of the telly at the time of the disaster. Irreplaceable!

It's this fact that puts the whole matter of "How much is your data worth?" into the subjective realm along with such things as your health, life, the value of art, and other philosophical notions. The key feature of this is: Don't lose it. Back it up. Even have Chaotic Backup if you have to, but whatever you do, don't lose your data! "Data" may sound clinical as if it's just holes in computer cards, but these days "Data" tends to include your entire family album of photos, all those music tracks you've stored, all your email correspondence over the years, and various creative works which you produced. "This is Your Life!", except instead of being in a big red book it's on disc.

Well the chances are, if you're reading this, then I'm a bit late to tell you that you should have backed it all up! However, even if a disaster has caused your life's worth of data to be lost, there is a good chance it can be resurrected, as Data Rescuers can often recover data from situations which seemed impossible. Just don't expect it to be cheap. The point is, it's worth it.

I heard an interesting story about something which happened at Xytron Data Recovery (which is a place that's less expensive than most other data recovery companies). A customer, on hearing how much it was going to cost to recover their data, exclaimed "But that's more than the entire computer cost in the first place!". Now let's put that in perspective. It's like someone looking at a masterpiece which had been painted by a great artist and saying "It's cost more than the entire cost of the picture frame!". See, the value of the art isn't even the same type of stuff as the cost of the picture frame. They are as chalk and cheese. The value of the data on a computer has no relation to the price of the hardware.

Of course some data is worth more and some is worth less, depending on what it is! You can approximately gauge this by the replaceability of it. If your computer is full of stuff you've downloaded from the Internet, it's largely replaceable, whereas last year's holiday photos are not. They are priceless. PI to a million places might look like some impressive data, but you can replace it, and the replaced version will be as good as it's always been. In contrast, if you lose your tax accounts data, it's a more worrying matter, because they are not 100% recoverable even if you've got all the receipts. Therefore, it's worth safeguarding such data that would cost you dearly to replace. And, if the worst happens, it's worth paying to have the data recovered.

From an insurance point of view, some types of business insurance may cover the financial value of your business data, and some may not, so it's worth asking. With home insurance it's an even more tricky situation as it's a more intangible valuation. However, if you can get your life insured for an agreed amount, you may be able to get your home insurance company to agree on a value BEFORE there's a problem. Even then, the data is irreplaceable, so it's difficult to put any realistic valuation on it. However, nomatter how you look at it, if you could have the data recovered for a price, it would be worth it!

As a finalé to this page, here's an interesting hypothetical story to consider: Suppose you go to a fortune teller and have your future foretold. The fortune teller says "I've got some good news for you, and some bad news. The good news is that in a week's time you win The Lottery, but after that you've only got a week to live". Oh well, it's all a bit of fun. No harm in it. Scepticism. Cross your fingers. etc. ... Except that a week goes by, and then suddenly you actually win the Lottery! Tens of millions. Now what? A bit worrying about next week then? That is the concern, not the money! A further visit to the fortune teller, and you hear "I've got some bad news for you, and some good news, and some bad news. The bad news is that you die, in a week, in a car crash" ... and the good news? ... "Doctors can bring you back to life by means of bionic/cybernetic technology". ... and the other bad news? ... "It will cost you six million dollars". ... SHUCKS! That's more than the entire cost of the car!


For a present-day resurrection of data, see Data Recovery