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Top Reasons For Data Loss PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Tuesday, 02 September 2008 10:32

Data loss happens due to a number of reasons, of which we are largely aware, but fail to take precautions against them. The best precaution is, of course, taking backups while the information is still around.

The Importance of Backup

Backup is more a question of habit and awareness than expenditure. Most people who suffer data loss do so because they did not pay enough importance to backing up rather than being monetarily unable to afford the backup. They come to realise the avoidable nature of the loss only after having incurred it. Where companies are concerned, backup is even more important, as a business may have to shut shop losing its data.

Reasons for Loss of Data

Broadly speaking, data loss from digital media can happen due to only two kinds of reasons: problems related to hardware and problems related to software. But the general trends about these are publicly misunderstood, and importance is laid in the wrong places. The following list is according to data loss statistics recorded by several research groups.

Hardware Failure

Hardware failure is the greatest reason for data loss all over the world. This can happen in the following ways:
  • Hard disk crash is the single most common way of losing data anywhere. Contrary to popular belief, hard disks are not immortal; in fact, no company so far is willing to guarantee their product beyond five years.

  • The related hardware such as read or write heads may malfunction, the fan may stop, the disk tray may get jammed, or any other moving parts may also stop working.

  • Circuits can be blown due to electrostatic discharge or power surge or power spikes. Incorrect plugging in of cards or any other input or output device may also cause a similar problem.

  • All digital devices are susceptible to damage through water, fire, heat, dust, humidity, moisture and temperature extremes. Some manufacturers of USB devices have claimed that these are water-proof, but it would be wiser not to try it out after buying them.

  • Shock, direct sunlight and mishandling are some other typical ways of data loss through hardware malfunction or damage.

  • Increased demand for digital storage formats has also increased the volume of production, lowered the price and also the quality. Manufacturing defects are another way through which data may be lost.

Human Errors

This is a category that has come up very fast. With more and more people using all kinds of digital goods in their daily lives, the propensity to lose our own data has increased manifold. We drop our mobiles into the soup, spill coffee over the laptop, scratch the CD, try to pull out the DVD with a handy fork, fry the camera in a bonfire on the beach accidentally, forget our USB drive in someone else’s computer and go home. There are incredible stories of owners driving over their laptops, wrapping hard disks in dirty old socks for protection, or simply dropping a CPU while moving desk in office. Human beings are also taking out their emotions on the machines around them. More people are beginning to rip apart keyboards, hitting the CPU, punching into a screen or even throwing out the whole computer out of the window.

Software Failure

Software failure can happen in the following ways:
  • The Operating System may crash, taking the data with it. This ideally should not happen at all, but it does for all companies.

  • One may accidentally or maliciously delete a partition or format an entire disk.

  • Overwriting, corruption and fragmentation of files are another way in which all types of digital goods lose their data. Music, video, photographs and media file formats are particularly prone to this.

  • Running the wrong application on an incompatible device, trying to copy large volumes of data into a small space and other such methods also cause data loss.

Virus and Hackers

Viruses, spy ware, ad ware, and hackers are no more fictional threats. Everyone from the humble school student to a multinational corporate giant is open to the villains of the internet who can crash our disks, steal our data, wipe our disks or gain remote access of our computers.

Natural and Man-made Disasters

Natural disasters such as fire, flood, earthquake, and storm cause limited but concentrated data loss. The same applies to wars, terrorist attacks, bombings etc.