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Common Types of Data Loss and How to Prevent Them

We all learn from our mistakes and over time we'll all experience at least one form of data loss. Learn to protect yourself from the most common factors affecting data loss.


We receive thousands of cases each year, and while no two are the same, we've found that many of our clients lose data for similar reasons. Here are a few of the most common types of data loss.

Accidental Deletion and User Error - Often, a computer user will think that he or she has a backup of a certain file and delete it. We can usually recover deleted files very quickly, but if a person continues to use a computer after deleting a file, the file can be overwritten, which significantly lowers the chances of a full recovery. Other types of user error, such as software misuse and hard drive reformatting, can also lead to overwrites.

To avoid losing data, immediately shut down your drive after making a mistake that results in data loss. Contact our engineers and explain what happened, including any steps you took to recover your data. Over 90 percent of data recovery cases involving user error are fully recoverable.

Data Corruption - Computers constantly read and write information. If a software error or power failure prevents a computer from finishing a data write, however, a file can become corrupt and unreadable. This is particularly common with email archives, SQL databases and other large files.

To prevent data corruption, avoid shutting down programs with Task Manager, Force Quite commands and in other abnormal ways. Never unplug an external hard drive or flash drive without safely disconnecting it.

Virus Damage - Contrary to popular belief, data loss due to virus infection is fairly rare. However, we still receive several hundred devices every year with seriously virus-damaged files, so it's always better to take precautions than to risk data loss due to malicious software.

Keep your computer's antivirus software up-to-date and always use a firewall. Never open files from unrecognized sources, even if a friend, family member or coworker emails them to you.

Hard Drive Failure - By far, the most common cause of permanent data loss is hard drive failure. Hard drive read/write heads can physically stop working, often coming into contact with the magnetic material that stores your data in the process. To recover data from a physically damaged hard drive, you'll need to find a data recovery company with a certified Cleanroom, and clean room recovery can be expensive under certain circumstances.

Keep your hard drive safe by setting up your computer in a room-temperature environment. Make sure that the back of the computer has plenty of room for ventilation and avoid subjecting your computer to vibration or physical shock. Remember, every hard drive will fail at one point or another, so always keep your important data backed up.

RAID Server Failures - Many computer users never encounter this type of data loss, but RAID failure cripples thousands of businesses across the United States every year. RAID drive failures often occur when a RAID rebuild goes wrong or when several server hard drives fail at the same time.

The only way to prevent RAID failure is to follow all rebuild procedures to the letter and to back up critical information in at least one offsite location. Many businesses keep at least three levels of backups, which should prevent most types of data loss from ever impacting productivity.

Remember that data loss can occur at any time. Even if you have a new computer or a redundant storage system, you should always remember to backup your information frequently to keep yourself protected. At the first signs of data loss, call Secure Data Recovery Services' 24/7 customer service line at 1-800-388-1266.

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