Thursday, 18 September 2008

Main Causes of Data Loss

Main Causes of Data Loss

Data loss can be explained as the inability to access and/ or retrieve information from a computer media device due to physical or human error. The biggest advantage of using a computer media is that an innumerable amount of data can be easily stored in small storage devices. It makes life simpler and much more convenient.
All regular computer users dread the possibility of facing data loss. Everyone who uses computers has some time or the other undergone the traumatic experience of data loss in varying degrees. Whether one is a student or a pro, all have ventured into this dreaded territory.
There are professional records like accounting records, client databases, marketing strategy, new inventions and there are personal records of emotional value like photographs, video clippings, :(emails that have been lost due to various reasons. Data loss affects everyone in varying degrees. It can upset a user and, in extreme cases, even put big corporations out of business.:)
Information loss is directly converted into financial loss. In today’s world of digital technology, information is an important asset and time spent in retrieving it is equalent to monetary loss. Nowadays everything learnt, developed, invented and planned is stored in digital form and any damage to this information can bring lives to a standstill and businesses to a close.

It is not only important to use technology to its optimum capacity but to be equally aware of all potential failures arising out of our complete dependency on it. In order to use technology efficiently, it is imperative to identify potential data loss situations and take necessary precautions to either prevent them or mitigate their impact.
There are many reasons for data loss. Some of the important ones being:
1. Hardware or System Failure: These include hard drive crash which is the main storage media for the computer. It can also be electrical failure, read/ write head crash, controller failure and so on. To prevent these hardware problems one needs to protect electrical components by using computers in a dry shaded area. It is important to protect against power surges using a UPS. Do not shake or remove the covers on the hard drives or tapes and make sure that your hard drive is in a secure dust-free environment, away from any potential dangers.

2. Human error: User error is also one of the major causes of data loss. These include accidental deletion of files or drive format and emptying of recycle bin thereafter. Also, there is physical damage or trauma resulting from a drop or a fall, server configuration error or network failure. These can be avoided by not attempting any installations or repair without proper knowledge or experience. Avoid moving a computer while it’s on. Maintain security on your personal files and folders and maintain systematic and timely backup.
3. Software Error: These include corruption by diagnostic or repair tools, failed backups and configuration problems. Database corruption also falls under software errors. These can be avoided by maintaining proper backup, using diagnostic utilities carefully, updating security software and programs and ensuring data integrity and backup prior to any software upgradation.
4. Computer Viruses: They can establish themselves in your system and create havoc. These infect files, emails and the whole databases leading to glitches and errors and unpredictable behaviour. They can destroy or overwrite any existing data making access impossible. These can be prevented by using a good quality anti-virus program from a reputable company which should be run on regular intervals to scan all incoming data and software. Be extra cautious when using any external media like floppy disks and CDs.
5. Natural Disasters: These cause the least amount of damage in terms of percentage but can wipe out data storage completely when they strike. These include natural calamities like floods, earthquakes, lightning, fire and so on and can be guarded against by maintaining an ‘off-site’ backup of your data.
6. Vandalism: These include malicious acts of unknown hackers who either destroy or steal information or of disgruntled employees trying to get even. Even competitors can sabotage important data from company’s account leading to corruption, erasure or loss of vital information. These can be prevented by putting up security systems and firewalls by reputed companies. Also, a good and regularly updated data backup free of virus ensures that data recovery is easier. One can also employ data forensics to investigate and find the guilty or the methodology to prevent any recurrence of similar episodes.
The crux of the matter is that data loss is today’s reality and the most important safeguard against it is a well-maintained data backup.
About Author
James Walsh is a freelance writer and copy editor. If you are concerned about data loss and would like more information on Data Recovery see
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