Data Loss: 6 Horror Stories and How to Avoid It

Data loss is the intentional or unintentional destruction of information caused by people or processes internal or external to an organization. The most common unintentional causes of data loss include hardware malfunctions, software corruption, human error, and natural disasters. Data can also be lost during migrations and during power outages or improper shutdown of systems. Here are six horror stories about data loss from companies that have suffered a catastrophic loss of computer data, and how to avoid it. The main causes of data loss are laptop theft, accidental deletion or overwriting of files, power outages and overloads, spilled liquids, and sudden wear and tear or failure of hard drives.

Periodically backing up files allows data recovery in the event of data loss. Of course, many types of data loss rarely make the headlines. Small businesses are especially vulnerable to data loss due to power outages, but they don't make the headlines. Similarly, an employee of a property management company who spills water on his laptop and corrupts the data on it won't end up on the front page of the local newspaper. That said, many cases of data loss make the headlines. Other disasters are avoided by professional data recovery services like the USB flash drive repair service at Ontrack Data Recovery, but USB drive recovery costs money and the need to recovery data from a flash drive is easily avoided by employing a regular data backup.

Here's a look at several companies that have experienced recent data loss (or the possibility of data loss). Sidekick users lost their contacts, photos, calendar events, and other personal data due to an oversight in Microsoft's backup system. Gold Coast Health Plan, the Minnesota Department of Human Services, Sunspire, Legacy Health, Manitowoc County, and UnityPoint are examples of other companies that have experienced similar data breaches related to identity theft. To prevent the intentional destruction of data by recent or current employees, the company must limit access to confidential or sensitive data only to the necessary personnel. Controlling or restricting access can also help prevent losses due to hackers or even human error, in which an employee can unintentionally delete data without knowing the seriousness of the action. Most importantly, you can avoid data loss by frequently backing up your valuable files to an external hard drive or using a cloud-based service.

Backup is the first step in recovering from data loss, as it ensures that the organization has at least one additional recent copy of vital data. If your data is stolen or corrupted, you'll still have access to that backup data and you'll know exactly what was lost. In the event of significant data loss, business continuity and daily functions can be severely affected, resulting in additional costs. A typical example of physical damage can be a flood or fire, which cause physical damage to the disks on a hard drive and require the help of a data recovery professional to recover valuable information from the damaged hard drive. When an organization is responsible for protecting someone else's data, it also assumes responsibility for keeping those individuals or organizations informed about the status of their data. Along with the notification, the organization must develop a plan to recover the data within those 72 hours. The reasons can vary wildly, some are quite obvious and others occur unexpectedly and require a data recovery professional to diagnose the problem.

Some companies think they're doing the right thing by implementing a BDR backup plan, and it turns out that it's not enough, while others don't have any type of data backup. In addition, if the loss of data was due to the company's own actions or something like theft, the company should strive to help customers trust it again. While the costs of these services can be high, comprehensive protection against data loss is often worthwhile in the long run, especially compared to possible costs in the future.

Joel Metty
Joel Metty

Iced coffee loving music fanatic with his own dad band, and years of data recovery experience.

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