Highly Reliable Systems: Removable Disk Backup & Recovery

Can Using Encryption Destroy Your Backup?

By Darren McBride

With all the talk about backup to the cloud, we wanted to take a moment to discuss the encryption that is always part of that backup strategy.  Most encryption methods assume the underlying hardware is good.  But given that as many as 3-6% of hard drives fail in any given year, it’s important to ask the question: Can using encryption destroy your backup?

A few bad sector clusters on an unencrypted hard drive  are not a big problem for a data recovery laboratory — even if it involves the MFT – master file table. But a couple dead sectors on an encrypted drive can mean a complete inability to recover anything, depending on the method of encryption.


  • Having your data backed up on multiple physical disks is a very good thing!
  • Use different software and hardware as a secondary backup strategy, especially if encryption is used.
  • If your strategy involves encryption to the cloud, make sure there are multiple data centers.
  • A single data store with multiple incrementals for history is great.  But… remember if it’s encrypted you are one “bit flip” away from having nothing (depending on the encryption mechanism).
Darren McBride

About Darren McBride

CEO, Highly Reliable Systems, Inc. View all posts by Darren McBride →

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