Data loss is a problem for anyone that uses a computer.  Knowing the most common causes of data loss can help you to prevent and avoid it in the future.  Here are the top 10 most common causes of data loss for most computer users.

1) Accidental Deletion

While most users don’t want to admit it, one of the most common reasons for data loss is user error.  Everyone makes mistakes and sometimes those mistakes end in data loss.  Most people have at some point accidentally emptied the trash only to realize that an important file was in it and now gone.  This experience can be frustrating and can cause even bigger issues when the file(s) deleted are important system files which can lead to more issues.  File recovery software like FileSalvage can easily recover files in this type of data loss as long as the user is prepared ahead of time and acts quickly to recover their information.

2) Computer Viruses and Malware

There are countless viruses and malware out there and many of them can lead to data loss either through purposely deleting files and drives or through hard drive crashes.  This is one of the many reasons that it is important to have virus protection software installed and up to date on your machine to prevent against these type of attacks which can lead to numerous headaches.

3) Physical Damage

Hard drives have platters spinning at thousands of RPMs with the smallest of tolerances.  They’re sensitive pieces of machinery and bumps, drops, and other mishandling can lead to physical damage to the drive platters resulting in loss of data or corruption.  Insuring that your drives are handled with care and kept at temperatures well within their recommended operating parameters helps to insure drive life and minimize the risk of data loss.

4) Accidental Formatting

Formatting a hard drive will cause a total loss of all information contained on it.  This can happen simply because the user selected the incorrect device or volume when attempting to format another device.  Most information can be recovered after accidental formatting but the user must act to insure they don’t use the formatted drive and use a data recovery program or call a data recovery specialist right away.

5) Head Crashes

The read write heads on a hard drive are suspended on a thin cushion of air which the spinning platter induces just few millionths of an inch away from each other.  At that minuscule distance with the platter spinning at thousands of RPMs, it’s easy to see how even the smallest bump or drop can send the head crashing into the platter and cause data loss.  Hard drive repair is done in a special clean room as even a speck of dust between the platter and read write head can cause a big problem.  This is why users should never attempt to disassemble and repair their hard drive themselves.

6) Logical Errors

Logical errors are caused by system or file corruption, software problems, and invalid entries in file locations.  They can cause corruption of other files on the drive and lead to data loss.  Logical errors can be fixed using disk utilities in some cases although it’s recommended to reinstall the operating system and restore files from backup as many times repairing such issues doesn’t prevent future problems.

7) Continued Use After Signs Of Failure

Many users ignore the early signs of drive failure.  Clicking or grinding noises, system hangs, and random file deletion are early warning signs that a drive may be failing yet many users choose to ignore them which can lead to data loss.  When a drive starts to show these signs, back it up immediately and consider replacing it.  Users may also want to run drive integrity checks and verify S.M.A.R.T. status although these do not always catch every sign of possible hardware problems.

8) Power Failure

Power failure is a common cause of data loss.  Having the power go out leads to loss of unsaved files and can even lead to file corruption.  The best way to prevent this type of problem is through the use of an uninterrupted power supply or UPS. Insuring that you save your files frequently during creation will also help insure you minimize file loss should you lose power.

9) Firmware Corruption

Firmware on a hard drive controls the way it operates to read and write data to the disk.  It is software code that tells the drive how to carry out various tasks.  Although few think about it, this code is essential to the proper operation of the hard disk.  When the firmware becomes damaged, the operating system is unable to recognize or access the hard drive.  Firmware corruption is hard to guard against and the best defense is always insuring that you have a proper backup of your important data.  Some data recovery services can swap out the hard drives logic board containing the corrupt firmware for a working one although this service is expensive.  Drive makers that use non-standard firmware and drive bridges seem to have more frequent occurrences of hard drive firmware corruption than others.

10) Natural Disasters

Acts of god can cause data loss.  Lightning strikes, power surges, flood, fire and earthquakes cause physical damage to hard drives and more.  Protect your data by having a quality surge protector connected to your computer devices and store backup copies of your most important data off-site at another location or with an online backup service to make sure it’s safe in the event of disaster.  Keeping a current backup on a separate drive stored in a safe location is always a good idea also.  Some store a backup copy of their information at home and a 2nd copy at a friend or family member’s place that swap out and keep up to date weekly or monthly.

Being aware of the most common types of data loss helps the user understand the importance of insuring their data is safe and the steps needed to prevent loss of important files.  Data loss is an all too common occurrence but having proper backup copies and being prepared with good data recovery software can go a long way to minimizing the hardship and headaches that usually accompany data loss.

Blessed are the pessimists for they they backup.

7 comments

  1. am so happy to round in this in this class

  2. Does this, “Most information can be recovered after accidental formatting…,” mean that Subrosa FileSalvage can recover most or all .jpg, .psd, .mov, .avi, from my external G-Drive which I accidentally erased using Apple’s native DiskUtility? I use an iMac running OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.8.

    What about folders along with the contained files?

    I forced quit DiskUtility before it completed its operation but still reads the drive as empty.

    • FileSalvage should be able to recover the formats you mentioned. However, the file names will not be included as they are not actually stored in the file but rather in the system’s catalog/b-trees. As soon as the file is deleted, the information will be removed and the space recycled and overwritten. FileSalvage will recover your files to the folder of your choice but the specific folders they were in and placement will not be the same. This once again is because that information is contained in the system’s catalog/b-trees.

  3. hola necesito recuperar un mail que fue eliminado. como lo logro.

    gracias

    fabiana

  4. Thanx for availing the tips which are good for both computer students and computer users …..im very pleased.

  5. francis onofure

    thanks.am absolutely greatful

  6. I by accident erased my back up which is using Time Machine. Ouch! Have not done anything to tampering with it. Can I recover this drive to backing up “ONE” of the scheduled dates of a back up? The HD in the computer a new HD. wanted to use Time Machine to transfer my latest update to the new drive. Any good news out there ?

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