What’s the leading cause of data loss?

HDD crashes more than doubled in the last four years, prevailing as the most common cause of data loss according to customer data provided by Kroll Ontrack.

When asked about the causes of their most-recent data losses, 66 percent (compared to 29 percent in 2010) of 1,066 surveyed customers cited a hardware crash or failure, followed by 14 percent claiming human error (compared to 27 percent in 2010). Software failure ranked as the third most common cause of data loss with 6 percent.

HDD crashes prevail as the most common cause of data loss. An overwhelming 72 percent of those surveyed noted that their most recent data loss came from a desktop or laptop hard drive, followed by SSD (15 percent) and RAID/virtual services (13 percent), showing that data loss impacts every type of storage from the consumer grade up to the enterprise level.

The reason appears to be simple: even though hard disk drive (HDD) shipments are on the decline, they are still expected to outpace SSD shipments three to one in 2014, according to Jeff Pederson, manager of data recovery operations for Kroll Ontrack.

“There are simply more hard drives in circulation because they are cost effective and manufacturers have perfected their design and production,” Pederson said. “As a result, HDDs comprise the vast majority of the data recoveries we address.”

The survey was conducted among customers across North America, Europe and Asia Pacific.

Looking at individual response segments, laptop and PC crashes prevailed as the leading cause of data loss among both businesses (71 percent) and home users (72 percent) respectively and SSD device loss ranked second, accounting for 18 percent of data loss cases for home users and 10 percent for businesses.

“Storage media fails regardless of type; it is just a matter of when. This fact, coupled with the fact that HDDs are still the most prevalent drive is why HDD crashes have and continue to be the most common cause of data loss,” added Pederson. “To avoid such a failure, one should regularly defrag their computer, check its storage capacity, and run antivirus software as well as hard drive monitoring software. Beyond good health practices, businesses and home users should have working redundancies, such as a backup device or service in place, and a continuity plan that is current and accessible in the event of a loss.”

What is at stake? Among businesses, 27 percent said their most recent loss disrupted a business process, such as prohibiting them or their company from actually providing a product or service to their customers. A further 15 percent admit to losing personal data from their business machine contrasted with 7 percent whom acknowledged losing business-related data from their home machine.

“As data storage evolves, so do the numbers of places we store it,” said Todd Johnson, vice president of data recovery operations, Kroll Ontrack. “Therefore, it isn’t surprising that critical business data is at stake among both company-owned and personal devices. Since data is key to how we function in both worlds, accessibility is critical and that is where we come in. We’ve been helping companies and end users with accessing and recovering their data since 1985, and are committed to evolving our data recovery techniques to ensure we can recover from the latest storage technologies.”

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