What Are the Main Causes of Data Loss?

Find out the Risks to Your Data and Recognise the
Warning Signs Early On

Top Causes of Data LossData loss is something that plagues all businesses, no matter their size. Valuable and irreplaceable business data can be lost through hard drive damage, virus infection, or even just simple human error.

More often than not, we aren’t fully aware of the risks to our data, or how to identify them, before it’s too late. But data loss is a serious issue for businesses and can have a lasting impact on a company’s performance and financial health.

By understanding some of the factors that can lead to data loss, you can minimise the potential for damage and take measures before the complete loss of data and the services of a data recovery company are needed.

To help you stay informed, we’ve compiled a list of 5 of the main causes of data loss.

1. Hardware or System Malfunctions

According to a data-loss survey, more than two-fifths of users lose data due to hardware or system malfunctions. This is by far the most common and prevalent cause of data loss for both businesses and individuals.

There are countless ways in which hardware can be compromised, both from external and internal forces.

A large percentage of the failures we see are a result of physical or mechanical faults, in many cases resulting from misuse and mishandling of the drives.

Common external causes for hard drive failure can include:

  • Power supply malfunction including power outages or surges
  • Overheating
  • Water or fire damage
  • Human error: being dropped, improper connection, etc.

Common internal causes for failure:

  • Firmware corruption
  • Mechanical problems or read/write head failure
  • Bad sectors

Sometimes hard drives fail not due to one single calamitous event, but rather the gradual wearing down and ageing of the hardware. With these types of failure, you can often spot the signs early on and then take measures to prevent an all-out crash further down the line that results in the loss of all your valuable data.

Signs of gradual hardware failure:

  • Clicking, grinding or ticking noises
  • Increasingly slow computer performance
  • Unusually hot computer and hardware temperatures
  • Repeated failure to boot up correctly
  • Corrupted or disappearing files
  • Repeated computer crashes
  • Error messages that keep popping up

“If you do receive any of these warning signals of impending data loss – heed them and take action! Many people are not fortunate enough to receive any prior signal of the danger and are only aware of the situation after the hardware has crashed and costly data recovery is necessary.”

– Nicolas Thomas, Operations, Computer Forensics NZ

2. Human Error

Why Data Recovery is ImportantHuman error is another fundamental reason why data recovery services are often required by businesses.

For most businesses, their day to day workings involve editing, adding, and deleting company files. With such heavy usage, data is frequently lost, most often through accidental deletion.

As well as accidently deleting a file, human error can also result in a spilled coffee over the laptop, or an external hard drive being knocked over. As careful as we can be, these accidents and errors do happen, so it’s always best to have a secure backup to safeguard your data in the event of these everyday human mistakes.

3. Viruses and Malware

While viruses and malware are not currently the primary cause of data loss, they are fast becoming so. As technology grows and evolves, so do the viruses used to infiltrate and destroy data. The result is that new virus threats emerge almost daily.

For businesses, viruses are steadfast enemies. They have the ability to steal, delete or encrypt great quantities of data, and in some cases, destroy internal company functionality by infiltrating the entire network or corrupting all computer hardware.

Email Attacks

The most widespread methods of entry into computer and data systems are email-based attacks and through phishing (disguised as a trustworthy email from a known company). The simple act of clicking on a link in an email can cause the complete loss of data and functionality.

Perhaps the most dangerous of these attacks, and the ones that are becoming increasingly common, are those aimed toward stealing and damaging confidential business data.

This malicious software – referred to as Ransomware – threatens to publish the data or perpetually block access to it unless a specific ransom is paid. These viruses have cost countless businesses millions of dollars.

4. Theft

Common Reasons for Data LossThere’s little worse than losing all of your data and your computer in one go. While you might have a strong security system at the office, the fact that a lot of us carry around laptops these days means there an increased chance of data theft – in fact, research indicates that a laptop is stolen somewhere in the world every 53 seconds!

While the computer systems and laptops do cost money, it is often the subsequent data loss which results in the most damage and expense.

Studies support this, revealing that almost 80% of the costs incurred as a result of theft are due to data loss, not the replacing of laptops and computers. All the more reason to keep a secure backup!

5. Natural Disasters

While disasters are rare, they can be devastating, and it is far more difficult to salvage data from a fire or water damaged device. Your computer, your data and even your business could all disappear in one dreadful moment, as a result of a flood, fire, landslide, or earthquake.

Unfortunately, there is no solution to absolve this threat in entirety but it is good practice to back up frequently and keep a seperate copy of your data in another location.

Have You Experienced Data Loss?

Our team at Computer Forensics NZ are experts when it comes to dealing with data loss and data recovery. We specialise in all types of data recovery, whatever the cause, and have been doing so since 1999.

If you have lost your data or have any questions about data recovery, give us a call on 0800 LOST FILES any time – we will do all we can to recover your data!