The Most Common Causes of Data Loss and How to Avoid It

The Most Common Causes of Data Loss and How to Avoid It

No one likes the inconvenience of data loss, especially when it happens unexpectedly. While sometimes, it can seem unavoidable, there are precautions that you can take to prevent data loss from ruining your day. First, you need to understand the most common causes of data loss and then the next step is to follow all the precautions necessary to ensure it never happens, or that you have a backup plan if it does.

So, here are the Most Common Causes of Data Loss below.

Hard drive failures

There are several reasons why hard drives fail or crash. Approximately, 60% of hard drive failures occur because of mechanical issues and 40% because of misuse. They can also die due to just being old or worn out, or other causes for example:

  • Exposure to some type of magnetic field
  • Being dropped to the floor
  • Getting too hot
  • Power outages or surges
  • Water or fire damage

Here are some common examples of internal factors that can cause a failure:

  • Data corruption
  • Software corruption
  • Drive read instability, which prevents access to the data on the disk
  • Human error such as tampering with files, accidental deletions, improper installation/removal of files or incorrect drive formatting

Hard drive failures can also be caused by a single event or perhaps just gradually over time, so here are some signs if this is happening to your device:

  • Frequent crashes occur
  • Weird noises such as clicking or grinding, sometimes with a pattern are happening
  • A high number of bad sectors during “chkdsk” scans
  • Overheating
  • Persistent issues during the boot-up process
  • Slowed-down performance
  • Frequent computer freezes
  • Disappearing files

Pro-Tip: Waiting until the last minute to do something about any of the above issues is the worse thing you could do. Image based backups can help in the event of a hardware failure disaster, and you will be able to recover your entire system including your OS, files, and your everyday applications.

Accidental deletions also known as user error

It’s not uncommon to spend time working and updating a file, to then delete it accidentally! We all make mistakes, but not all deletions can be salvaged by the recycle bin on our desktop. Here are a few examples when the recycle bin cannot save your data:

  • Files deleted from drives, for example files accessed over a Network since they do not have a Recycle Bin.
  • Files deleted when using the Windows Command Prompt.
  • Files that are larger than the capacity of the drive that the recycle folder resides on.
  • Files that are permanently deleted using Shift + Delete.

Another common accidental deletion example is when users delete a critical system file that makes the computer function.

Computer viruses and malware infections

Cyber threats are a common danger and will always be a risk factor contributing to why some people experience data loss. It is a major contributor to lost data as well as email-based attacks, phishing, and computer viruses that can corrupt your hard drive and infect your entire network. Recently, crypto ransomware has wreaked havoc and has led to cyber criminals gaining millions of dollars from these types of scams since users often opt for paying the ransom over losing their data.

Cryptowall 3.0 is one of the latest cyber scams that is expected to grow within the next few years. Like Cryptolocker, these viruses encrypt victim’s data, making it unattainable unless they have a decryption key. With adequate backups in place, there would be no need to fall for these types of scams. Unfortunately, if victims keep giving threat actors what they demand, they will continue to innovate and create new types of ransomwares to cause harm.

Laptop theft

Laptops are stolen at an alarming rate, according to Gartner every 53 seconds! Chances are, it could very well happen to you, so be cautious to never leave your laptop unattended or somewhere that it could get stolen. You might think that the replacing the stolen laptop would be the biggest cost factor involved in a theft, however studies reveal that 80% of the expense is due to data breach costs and getting the data back. It is important for any business to have the ability to wipe a computer remotely if critical data is stolen from a laptop. To protect your business, you should have reliable backups to ensure that critical data is never gone forever, and that you are able to get it back.

Power failures

Even though power failures may not seem like a huge risk for your computer, the reality is that a sudden loss of power can interrupt critical procedures and can cause your computer harm. Especially if it happens suddenly while your drive is writing data and the power goes out right in the middle of it. A file could easily become corrupt this way and then you would not be able to reboot your computer again. If these types of power loss occur on a regular basis, overtime it can reduce the lifespan of the hard drive. Every time a power outage, surge or hard reboot occurs they increase the likelihood of a hard crash, which could cause be the end of it all. One way to help protect your computer from a power loss is by having surge protectors. Again, reliable backups, can help in the event of a power-related data loss.

Water Damage

Liquids andelectronics never mix well in any situation. In the event of a spillage, your computer runs the risk of short-circuiting. If water, coffee, soup, or any other hot or cold liquid gets into a laptop through the keyboard (which is connected to the motherboard) it can cause it to stop working. Even if you try to dry off your computer or soak it in rice, it may still not be enough. You could give the following tips a try to save your laptop from liquid damage. The first thing you should do is to shut it down, dry it off and remove the wet parts to ensure they can dry in a cool, safe place for a minimum of 48 hours before you reassemble it again. Sadly, if the spillage fell deep into the laptop or if the contents of the liquid had acidic ingredients it could destroy the processor and the entire motherboard. If you can restart your computer again, you should create an image backup.

So now that you are aware of the most common causes of data loss, here are 10 tips that can help to prevent you from experiencing a data loss:

  1. Create image-based backups at the first sign or before a hard drive failure occurs
  2. Never delete files if you are not sure what they are for
  3. Do not keep liquids around your computer or other devices
  4. Never leave your laptop out in the open
  5. Avoid opening suspicious emails or attachments that could be malicious
  6. If your PC gets too hot, take it apart and clean it
  7. Always keep your anti-virus software up to date
  8. Keep your computer clean
  9. Backup your files regularly
  10. Use surge protectors in the event of a power loss


Preventing data loss truly starts by taking the necessary steps to avoid it from happening in the first place. Should any of the examples above happen you should have solid backups that are regularly tried and tested. With a vast number of data loss prevention tools for backing up your computers, there is really no excuse to leave your data vulnerable to loss.

For more information about preventing data loss and backup solutions for your GTA business, contact PACE Technical today here.


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