The 5 common causes of data loss

The 5 common causes of data loss

Jul 18, 2014


Loss of mission-critical data can bring your organisation to a standstill, potentially preventing employees from doing their jobs, customers from making online orders and a range of other frustrating business problems.

Investing in a comprehensive disaster recovery (DR) plan can minimise the downtime experienced when crucial IT systems fail. A standby database, for example, means that a failing database can be instantly switched over to a working replicate with ease.

However, compiling a sophisticated DR plan involves being aware of the potential risks that could affect your business data. Here are five of the most common reasons for data corruption or loss that you should prepare against.

1. Hardware failure

Earlier this month, data revealed that hardware failures are the primary reasons for data loss among both homeowners and businesses.

Hard disk drive (HDD) crashes in particular were cited as the prominent reason for lost information. This trend is largely because HDDs are still more common than solid state drives (SDDs), despite growth in devices that contain SDDs.

Hardware problems are difficult to prevent, but backing up important business data regularly to a replicate database ensures data loss is minimal on occasions where a crash occurs.

2. Human error

Even the most experienced staff members make mistakes and human errors remain a common cause of data loss for many businesses, such as an administrator pulling the wrong drive from a RAID array.

The situation can be made worse if the employee panics, leading to further mistakes. Having a solid DR plan in place will ensure personnel stay calm and are aware of what to do should problems arise.

3. Software corruption

As with hardware failures, there is little to prevent software corruption or other issues with business programs.

Recent research from BSA - The Software Alliance found unlicensed software is the biggest security risk to many organisations, so ensuring your programs are completely compliant is recommended.

However, should software become corrupt, having applications available from a secondary site ensures business continuity and gives enterprises the opportunity to operate consistently while the issue is fixed.

4. Hackers and computer viruses

Malicious attacks from cyber criminals are on the rise, particularly as an increasing number of businesses expand online.

In April, Symantec revealed there was a 62 per cent rise in data breaches last year when compared with 2012. These attacks resulted in 552 million identities being exposed.

Furthermore, computer viruses remain a very real threat for businesses that do not have adequate software protection.

5. Natural disasters

Natural disasters are commonplace across most continents, whether it's earthquakes, floods, typhoons or bushfires. In some cases, such as Hurricane Sandy in the US, the impact can be catastrophic for homes and businesses.

One of the biggest problems about natural disasters is that they can affect a wide region, meaning any back-ups kept off-site but near to your primary office could also be lost.

Having essential business information available from a secondary source means organisations can get up and running following extreme weather conditions that would put most enterprises out of business.

Preparing for every eventuality

The above list contains just a few of the problems that can cause IT system failures, leading to data loss that could hamper your productivity.

Given the fast pace of today's modern commercial environment, any downtime can create significant and immediate drops in revenue, as well as long-lasting reputational damage.

In fact, 72 per cent of small businesses that experience large-scale data losses shut down within 12 months. This underlines the importance of building a comprehensive DR plan that accounts for every potential disaster that could occur.

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