What Causes Data Loss and How to Prevent It

What Causes Data Loss and How to Prevent It

Data loss is one of the major inconveniences for any information-based companies as it disrupts their day-to-day functions. Loss of important files or information means loss of revenue. Rapid digitalization and augmented mobility may bring many benefits, but it widens the threat and vulnerability landscape, at the same time.

Why is Data Loss Such A Serious Issue?

Data loss is a serious problem for any organization— losing files means losing time and money to recover essential information of your business. When do you lose your data? Either by accidentally deleting it or when something corrupts it. Formatting errors, physical damage, or viruses can render data unreadable by both humans and software. Lost documents and files can make a hole in your company’s financial health.

Some of the lost data can be recovered, but it requires IT professional’s assistance, time, and resources. In some cases, lost information and files are not recoverable, thus makes data loss prevention even more essential. If you are aware of what leads to data loss, then you are taking your business is not at risk.

Read on for the five most common consequences of data loss, how to prevent them, and tricks to recover the lost data:

Also, be sure to check out the Points to Include in Your Disaster Recovery Plan.

1. Global Quarantine and Work from Home Orders

Right now, for example, the COVID outbreak is threatening the global economy while raising privacy and security concerns. The World Health Organization has officially declared the novel COVID-19 as a pandemic. This news has set many companies around the world to encourage their employees to work from home to protect their health and support government measures that aim to curb this virus.

The need for a disaster recovery plan is becoming more critical for any business as with quickly adopting work from home policies; there will be more challenges related to compliance with regulations and data protection.

Data loss can become more prominent when there is no one to monitor or set backups. Something like this can directly affect your business functions. Especially if people are too sick or quarantined at home or experience a network outage or other disruption.

It is not often that businesses face a pandemic, and it encounters a data loss. There are other factors, too, that causes data loss. Let us have a quick look.

2. Viruses and Malware

If you ask what is one most common cause for data loss? The majority answer would be viruses.

Computers are prone to numerous new viruses, as they are connected to a worldwide network. Viruses are of different kinds, and thus, their damages differ too. The majority of virus damage is stored in data caused by operational software or misuse of internet connection. Data loss is just a side effect for many viruses; they might end up doing larger damage to your operating system.

The attacks that target to steal and damage business data are considered the most dangerous ones. Imagine the value of technical inventions, client databases, and industrial information vital for manufacturing or financial transactions’ history of companies. If there is serious monetary value, then there is a strong curiosity to acquire this information. What could be more expedient for hackers than to create a faulty impression of failures in the operating system to hide their real targets and cover tracks?

If any virus and malware attack damage your computer badly, then install the operating system and programs easily if you have installation disks available.  The same applies to your original data. Make regular backups of your data to make them available even after a severe virus and malware attack.

For any organization, the viruses can delete or steal a good amount of data or bring business operations to a crawl, destroying company functionality. An email-based attack or phishing that tempts an employee to click on a corrupted link leads a virus to enter the computer and damage or steal files.

Guard against malware by installing appropriate anti-virus software. Regularly update your anti-virus systems and run scans to catch viruses before they can do any serious damage. In case of a malicious program that targets your data, ensure that you make regular system backups as well. The only way to restore your lost data from malware or viruses is often from the backed up data.

According to Cybersecurity report 2019, around 100,000 groups in at least 150 countries and more than 400,000 machines were infected by the WannaCry virus in 2017, at a total cost of around $4 billion!

3. Power Outages

You are writing a very important document that needs to be published the same evening, for instance, you forgot to save the document, and the power goes off! What next? All your efforts go in vain. This might be a simple example, but now imagine working with sophisticated databases or creating detail-rich graphic illustrations.

An even bigger problem during power failures is that it affects operation systems or hardware of computers. Systems getting shut down suddenly without any proper procedures might cause a chain reaction resulting in data loss. Sometimes sudden changes in voltage may damage hardware elements of a computer, e.g., hard drives and other parts that are very sensitive to changes in voltage and strong magnetic fields. If a computer shuts down while it is writing to the hard drive system, it may never start up again.

To avoid such problems, it is better to have a regular, automatic system backup, as they are often the only way to recover lost data from a power outage. Ensure your business uses surge protectors to prevent possible damage from power surges.

study in 2017 revealed that out of 400 IT decision-makers, 46 percent experienced more than four hours of IT-related downtime over 12 months; 23 percent said that they incurred costs ranging from $12,000 up to more than $1 million per hour.

Over 35 percent admitted that they are unsure of the cost of an outage to their business.

4. Software Corruption

When software is corrupted, it may not be able to run again, which means no access to the data stored in that software.

Software corruption can sometimes be the result of any uncontrollable factors. Thus it is important to implement procedures for properly shutting down software after each use. Be careful before you shut down your system; ensure all the programs are closed. Reduce the risk of business data loss from software corruption by telling your employees to consistently save documents during editing and follow safe shut down procedures.

You might have experienced this… that the software you are using shuts down suddenly without reasons while making an important document or editing a picture. Such scenarios are termed as software corruption, which is caused due to the use of some diagnostic tools or taking too much memory, etc.

Data loss in such cases can be prevented by saving your documents frequently during the process of editing and by using diagnostic utilities with caution.

5. Hard Drive Formatting

Computer hard drives are the most fragile parts; they seem to break down more often than any other device connected to computing. Of course, there are ways to recover data from faulty hard drives, but the cost of service might be more than $1,000. The worst part is once you have serious problems with your hard drive, not even a professional service provider can recover your valuable data.

There are several manufacturing defects besides hard drives just dying their natural death. The smallest imprecision affects the work of hard drives. If you drop your laptop or computer, accidentlly the memory devices will damage.

Accidental formatting of your hard drive can lead to instant data loss. Mistakes happen! Sometimes employees misunderstand system prompts or error messages and format the hard drive by mistake, and as a result, valuable data is lost. Reformatting can occur during system updates too. Accidental reformatting of hard drive does result in loss of files and documents, but you can recover the same, just by running a data recovery software.

Are you ok in taking the risk of losing data stored on your hard drive in every 5-6 years? In case of such hardware troubles, regular backups really help.

6. Theft

This would be the last thing you would expect!

Electronic devices like laptops, smartphones, and other portable devices like a USB thumb drive or external hard drive are a top prize for burglars. While it is disheartening to learn that your laptop or any other gadgets have been stolen, it is an even bigger tragedy when you think of all the possible data that can be compromised.

Even if you store your data online, when your laptop/ computer falls into the wrong hands, it becomes easier for criminals to access your accounts. Losing your computer is, of course, agonizing, but make it less painful by keeping your data secure storage and using a proper strategy for data backup.

You might be capable enough to buy a new one, but the data you lost is lost and invaluable too.


A proactive approach by backing up all your valuable data, preventing it against malware, can entirely prevent the above-discussed causes for data loss. Take a regular backup of your vital data to get back your lost or deleted data back in the usual state. Accidents are not under our control, but developing a sound strategy before time will definitely help you to avoid data loss.

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