Business Data Loss: Reasons, Consequences, and Prevention

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Data loss is a massive headache for any business. The costs are extremely dire, ranging from lost opportunities to potentially gaining a reputation for unreliability. Thankfully, contingencies exist so that you can have a bulletproof backup plan for data recovery and restoration.

Let’s start by looking at the major causes for data loss.

Top 10 Reasons for Data Loss

1. Hardware Failure

While data loss can be attributed to a multitude of factors, the main cause is usually hardware failure. Usually this stems from hard disk drives (HDD) crashing, although this problem can easily affect solid-state drives (SDD), which can experience more issues if continually used to write data.

2. Human Error

Anyone can make a mistake, from including the wrong recipients in an e-mail to damaging a laptop due to misuse. Human error accounts for a major portion of data loss.

3. Viruses and Malware

Viruses are designed to corrupt your computers, damage software, hardware, and destroy your data.

4. Power Disruptions

Sometimes, due to weather, natural disaster, or other unforeseen circumstances, a power grid can crash. Most of the time, this will happen without any warning and cause both unsaved data to be lost, and other files to be corrupted due to an abrupt computer shutdown.

5. Theft

Thieves will look to exploit any available situation, and stealing laptops and computers from a workplace is such an opportunity. Employees themselves may even take a computer or data device without returning it.

6. Hackers

Today many hackers are targeting specific types of businesses for extortion using ransomware that deletes or corrupts your data until you cough up what they want (ie. money). Insecure servers, poor firewalls, and easy-to-guess passwords can be the culprit.

7. Hard Drive Formatting

Although this may happen by accident, hard drives that end up being formatted can have their data recovered.

8. Software Corruption

Software that fails and causes you to lose data is hard to protect against.

9. Spills

It’s incredibly easy to spill coffee, tea, or other liquids onto a laptop. While in most cases, there may not be any cause for concern, sometimes the result can often be catastrophic data loss.

10. Natural Disasters

In addition to the loss of power, certain kinds of disasters like floors or hurricanes can physically destroy hardware, servers, and anywhere else that data is stored.

Consequences of Data Loss for Businesses

There are many negative consequences that occur when a business loses data. Most notably is the loss of normal operations. There may be financial damage that occurs over the short or long-term, but even more concerning is if business operations are affected to the point where disclosures need to be made in regulatory filings and shareholder reports.

Loss of productivity and a disruption to work flow processes always occurs when key information is lost. If data is not recoverable, it is a huge setback for personnel who will have to start over or look for hard copies of important paperwork. The time it will take to recover data will also be a factor in a business’s ability to operate.

The loss of reputation related to data loss is a dire prospect: If clients feel a business is unreliable or cannot protect their sensitive information, they may migrate to your competition. A more serious disruption in service could cause lasting damage to a brand.

The failure to protect data, and the losses associated with it, means that a lawsuit launched by shareholders is likely. If a company cannot fulfill client obligations due to data loss, the resulting breach of contract creates huge liabilities.

How Can You Prevent Data Loss?

There are several methods to prevent data loss. An ideal disaster recovery service is going to make sure that your data is both backed up and replicated. Data can be saved to external drives or cloud-based storage services.

The full working environment can be recovered by having a disaster recovery plan in place. Your systems can be recovered by replicating images of virtual machines that includes data, software, and other settings. A company should also understand both its recovery point objective (RPO) and recovery time objectives (RTOs), as the quicker it wants to be back in business, the more work is going to have to go into formulating the plans.

Why Do You Need to Backup Data?

Data needs to be backed up to protect a business from a wide variety of events, most of which, like hardware failure or human error, can occur without any warning.

After a natural or human-induced disaster, it is of critical importance that a business resumes normal operations as quickly as possible. This will only happen when a plan is in place for disaster recovery.

A company that places a high value on customer experience and managing expectations also has a huge incentive to ensure smooth operations and minimal disruptions to its service.

How Often Should You Back Up Your Data?

The frequency that a company backs up its data hinges on size, scope, as well as its RPOs and RTOs. At minimum, all data should be backed up weekly; doing it once every 24 hours is much more preferable. This should all happen automatically rather than using valuable company human resources to manually copy files or drives.

For a large and important brand with a lot at stake, data could be backed up in real time or near real time. This will ensure that sensitive client information, the latest transactions, and other key data can be made available quickly after any event that causes data loss.

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