Why Over 4 in 10 Businesses Suffer Data Loss

Exhausted and tired IT engineer or technician with problems sitting and leaning against data racks in a datacenter.

90 percent of businesses suffer unexpected loss of access to critical systems such as mail servers, file servers, and back-end processors, according to a GlobalSCAPE survey of 283 IT professionals. For 43 percent of companies, such downtime results in loss of crucial data or important communications. The costs of this type of data loss can be crippling. 60 percent of enterprise employees estimate that a single hour of lost access can cost their company $250,000 to $500,000. For one in six companies, this figure rises to $2,000,000. 60 percent of smaller companies that lose their data go out of business within six months, according to a study by The Diffusion Group. The risks that accompany data loss are too high for any business to safely ignore. Here’s a closer look at the causes and effects of data loss, along with some protective measures your company can take to avoid losing your data.

Causes of Data Loss

A recent Databarracks survey of 404 IT professionals from 20 economic sectors found that the biggest cause of data loss was human error, responsible for 24 percent of all incidents. A UK Information Commissioner’s Office reached a concurrent conclusion, identifying human errors such as sending data to the wrong person or losing paperwork among the most frequent causes of data loss. Hardware failure and data corruption ranked as the second and third most common causes of data loss in Databarracks’ survey, respectively. Other causes of data loss include viruses and natural disasters.

Effects of Data Loss

Data loss can impact a business in multiple ways, says internet hosting provider Peer 1 Hosting. First is the loss of data itself. The loss incurred can involve a variety of vital data, including company financial data, customer records, project files, and scans of important documents. The risk of a security breach also rises along with data loss, partly due to the tendency of employees to turn to unsecured third-party applications during downtime. For instance, Peer 1 found that 45 percent of employees use Dropbox when company networks are down. Lost data is also often accompanied by lost productivity, with productivity dropping 34 to 43 percent during downtime. This lost productivity translates into lost revenue. Information Technology Intelligence Consulting found that for 95 percent of companies with 1,000 employees or more, a lost hour of productivity costs $100,000. Data loss can also disrupt the schedules of tech support and other workers, increase workplace stress, hurt staff morale, and damage brand reputation with consumers.

Protective Measures

The Pulse of IT contributor Andrew Wright outlines five steps companies can take to guard against data loss. First, make sure your organization’s leaders and employees understand the importance of protecting data and are trained in your data protection and emergency response procedures. In particular, make sure your employees are trained to avoid the common human errors that can cause data loss. Second, strengthen your security by adopting measures to counter outside threats that can cause and aggravate data loss. For instance, use firewalls, secure networks, and antivirus software to guard against hackers, and use equipment such as surge protectors and backup power generators to safeguard against power outages. Third, virtualize your network in order to make it easier to protect and restore your data. Fourth, use multiple methods to back up your data, including tape, disc copies, and online cloud backup services such as MozyPro. Finally, consider bringing in an outside consultant to help you identify weaknesses in your data backup procedures and steps you can take to make your data more secure.