The Five Main Causes of Data Loss

Data loss is a crisis for most businesses, as all of their important records, invoices and pieces of customer information become inaccessible. The result? Often huge financial losses and, in the case of many businesses, a complete business failure. But what exactly causes this data to be lost forever? And, perhaps more importantly, how can these causes be prevented? Below you’ll find the five most common reasons, as well as some helpful tips on stopping them from happening in the first place…


It is important to mention this first though: however hard you prepare, and however many procedures you put in place, it is not always possible to prevent data loss from occurring. This is why all companies should have a contingency plan, which includes some provision for disaster recovery. Losing data will never be a pleasant experience, but with a plan in place, the impact can at least be minimized.

Human Error

Forget hackers, or anything else, as the number one cause of data loss is human error. However careful your staff might be, there’s always the chance that they could accidentally click the wrong button, or even damage important hardware. The majority of times this will not lead to significant damage – perhaps a scratch here, or a deleted file there – however sometimes that mis-click or stumble can prove to be extremely serious.

There’s one simple way to minimize the chance of human error affecting a business though, and it’s training. Show your staff what to click and what not to click, make them aware of how important different pieces of hardware are, and generally improve their knowledge of the IT system. Physical barriers can also help, such as ensuring that servers are securely locked away, and that important equipment isn’t left in areas of high footfall.

Hardware Malfunctions

Hardware malfunctions join human error as the top causes for data loss. This could be down to a sudden catastrophic failure, with the computer unable to recognize the hard drive; it could be a controller failure; or it could be down to numerous other things. The main thing business owners will be concerned about is the result, as it can lead to large amounts of data becoming inaccessible.

The main cause of hardware malfunctions is a power surge, however these can easily be protected against, simply by using a UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply). It is also recommended that IT equipment is kept in a clean, dust-free room. Finally, any trauma should be avoided, which often occurs due to human error.

Software Issues

Software is, unfortunately, one of the most unreliable aspects of any IT system. Just one change to the way in which it works can cause it not to work properly, and this can result in an inability to open files of a certain type. A good software expert should be able to resolve the problem though, and restore the software back to its former state.

Software corruption is often caused due to interference from other pieces of software, such as diagnostic tools. Therefore, you should be incredibly selective regarding the software installed on your computer system. Saving work regularly also means that it won’t be lost, should the software fail on a one-off basis.


Viruses are not as common as people think, yet they are still a very real threat. What’s more, they can be incredibly destructive, often working their way through a computer system, destroying everything in their path. Other viruses, however, are more targeted, affecting just one aspect of a system. All will cause damage at one level or another though, as this is the nature of viruses. They are nearly always contracted by downloading something, usually by a staff member with no idea about how much damage they could cause.

Staff training is very important when it comes to preventing viruses, as it should hammer home the point about how dangerous viruses can be. The best protection is a great virus checking software though, which can be relatively cheap to buy. Just a small outlay could save you some serious amounts of money in the future.

Natural Disasters

The phrase “natural disasters” throws up images of volcanoes and tsunamis. While these would undoubtedly be devastating, the most common natural disasters are not so extravagant though, and include floods and fires. A natural disaster can tear through IT infrastructure and render it completely useless, and there is no way to prevent it from happening.

There is something that can be done to prevent data loss though. The solution is storing data at a remote location, and also backing up non-sensitive data on the Cloud. That way, data can be accessed even when all hardware has been destroyed.


So, there are five ways in which data loss can happen – along with solutions to minimize any damage that they might cause. It always pays to have an expert on hand though, which is why you should chat with a disaster recovery expert before implementing any of the measures mentioned in the article above.

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