Understanding How Files Become Corrupted

Understanding How Files Become Corrupted

Nowadays, a lot of our electronic systems have the means to either prevent or quickly repair file corruption soon after it happens. However, that doesn’t mean file corruption is completely avoidable. Every time that you store information on your device, that data is written onto a form of storage media, such as a hard disk drive. When something happens to the storage media or during the writing process, there is a chance that your information becomes corrupted.

Causes of File Corruption

Most people have experienced some form of file corruption, such as when you’re saving a Word document and the program unexpectedly crashes. But the same goes for any other program that you may be running when your system crashes. Without the proper shutdown of programs, data could be left incompletely saved and stored, preventing it from functioning properly in the future. This may also occur ff the process of assembling that file into a packet of saved data is interrupted, or if the process itself should be externally altered.

Think of it as building a moving LEGO structure according to the instructions, but either your building is interrupted or some of your pieces are missing—what you get is an incomplete product, and so it does not function as expected.

Then, when damage has been done, you’ll likely notice programs not functioning properly or an increase in Blue Screen of Death errors. Your system may even have trouble booting up. The longer you let it the error continue, the worse it can get.

File Corruption on Hard Disk Drives

Your hard disk drive can suffer file corruption from more than just a save-interruption. Due to its mechanical structure, these kinds of storage media can suffer issues such as platters scraping and scoring each other. Your hard disk drive can also suffer file corruption damage from malicious viruses, bad sectors, and damage from electrical events such as power surges.

File Corruption on SD Cards

SD Cards are miniature storage devices often used for devices like cameras. As such, the most frequent cause of file corruption can be from shutting down your camera before it’s done fully processing a picture or video. Corruption can also happen if you extract your SD Card before the camera is done saving information. Other causes can include physically breaking the SD Card and mechanical malfunctions within the camera which lead to an interruption in operations. These result in a file being built incompletely and thus corrupted.

File Corruption on Mobile Devices

Smartphones today work very much like our regular computers. As such, they are vulnerable to viruses, just like desktop PCs and laptops. When the device abruptly shuts down or an app crashes, that can corrupt your files. Physical damage to the device can also cause damage to the storage media within, which can lead to corrupted or lost data. Some mobile devices also use SD Cards or MicroSD, making them susceptible to the same conditions described in the section above.

Keeping Your Data Safe from Corruption

While utilities such as Scandisk are supposed to help fix file corruption, these utilities can be inconsistent and unreliable. In some cases, they can contribute to further damage of your media if the problem is mechanical. Instead, there are some more reliable measures that one can take to protect files from corruption.

  • Regularly back up your computer with reliable external storage media or cloud storage
  • Utilize a reliable and thorough antivirus program that monitors your web browsing and downloading.
  • Buy an uninterruptable power supply as a backup to prevent the abrupt shutdown of your computer when a power outage occurs.

These methods can help provide layers of security for your data, no matter the situation that might arise. But should those methods fail, the experts at Secure Data Recovery use proprietary utilities to repair corrupted files as well as transfer data from damaged media. Our SecureBackup software also provides a solution for safely backing up your files and restoring them when corruption occurs. Call us at 1-800-388-1266 for more information about our data recovery and backup services.

Article by

Laura Bednar is a content writer for Secure Data. She writes blogs about trends in technology and budding privacy laws in the digital age. She also creates content for web pages and marketing materials for company products.

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