Types of Data Loss

What is Data Loss?

Data loss is when information systems are corrupted, deleted, or unrecoverable. It most commonly occurs due to neglect in storage, transmission, or processing.

Data loss is distinct from data unavailability – which is primarily caused by power outages – and from a data breach – which refers to your data…

data being stolen.

However, data loss has been used interchangeably with data breach, since cybercriminals don’t always give your information back, or corrupt it in the hacking process.

And, if you experience a power surge – creating temporary data unavailability – while you were in the middle of transferring files, you may find them corrupted or unreadable as a result, which would also constitute data loss.

The point is, data loss can happen for multiple reasons in various ways.

If you want to prevent data loss, you’re going to need to know all the ways it can occur.

Let’s take a look at just a few.

7 Types of Data Loss

Hard Drive Failure

This is one of the most persistent forms of data loss you’re likely to encounter.

Your hard drive is probably failing if you experience any of these signs:

  • Clicking, skipping, or scraping noises
  • An unusually hot temperature
  • Constant computer freezes
  • Constant hard drive crashes
  • Slow performance when running standard programs
  • Corrupted files

These issues may arise from the old age of your hard drive, but they could also be caused by external factors like dropping your hard drive or exposing it to magnetic fields.

Internal factors like file corruption, tampering with the file system, or improper drive formatting can also cause hard drive failure.

Viruses and Malware

Viruses and malware are the most malicious IT security threats next to hacking.

An employee may accidentally install a virus which could infiltrate your entire network – one of the many shadow IT risks you should be aware of.

Hackers may install malware to access your information which can cause damage to your internal systems.

And, while there are misconceptions about cloud computing, the reality is that the benefits of the internet bring with it all the risks.

That’s why preventing data loss means you need to do everything you can to prevent phishingprevent man-in-the-middle attacks, and prevent business email compromise, among many other cyberthreats.

Computer Theft

In the right (or wrong) hands, a computer can be more valuable than cash, and criminals won’t hesitate to capitalize on an opportunity to steal your unattended laptop.

Not only are you personally vulnerable to hacking, identity theft, or data loss, but so is your company if you use that computer for work.

Crime is opportunistic, which means you should never leave your laptop exposed in your car, left on a table alone, or brought to a crowded environment in a nondescript satchel that’s easily swiped.

If you must bring your laptop with you anywhere, make sure you keep it in front of you at all times and have someone else watch it if you have to walk away for any reason.

Fire Damage

Fire damage is certainly the rarest form of data loss, but it does still occur.

There were over 8,000 non-residential fires in 2015 caused by electrical malfunctions alone, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.

Every company with a data center should have fire-proof cables, a temperature gauge, smoke alarms, sprinkler systems, and should follow some basic best practices in preventing data center fires.

Of course, the best way to guard against data center fires is to store your data in other places.

You may have to invest in Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) to reliably store massive amounts of data, in which case, you’ll want to be familiar with the top companies offering IaaS solutions: AWS vs Google Cloud vs Azure.

Water Damage

Any liquid spilled onto your computer can and will cause permanent damage.

Sugary soda is especially harmful because the acids in the liquid start to corrode the computer’s internal parts which can damage your hard drive, destroy your keyboard, and erode the motherboard.

If you have to keep a drink next to you while working, make sure it has a secure lid.

Accidental Deletions

It’s easy to delete important files forever accidentally.

While the Recycle Bin offers some protection against delete-happy fingers, if you delete files from drives, or use the Shift + Delete function, they’ll be lost forever.

You have to be especially careful not to delete system files necessary for the proper functioning of your computer, as these can be extremely difficult to restore if you don’t act quickly.

Power Failure

A power outage or power surge can cause a lot of damage.

If your hard drive was writing an important system file and suddenly there’s a blackout, that file could become corrupted, which could lead to a malfunctioning operating system.

power surge can cause damage to your computer’s hardware by overloading it with electrical energy, frying the components.  

Every time a computer unexpectedly shuts down and restarts, the hard drive experiences small imperfections on the disk, which accumulate over time and leads to an eventual hard drive breakdown.

A computer needs to follow its shutdown procedures to ensure all processes cease functioning properly.

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