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We live our lives online, always a device within reach. We’re also storing more and more of our personal and professional data online, from banking information and tax returns to family photos and videos. This means any loss of data can have catastrophic and even heartbreaking results.

You’re not alone in the struggle to keep your data safe. It affects everyone and every business. There’s no shortage of real life examples of data loss. Data loss can be insidious because it can come unexpectedly and even be undetected for long periods.

It’s easier than you think for data loss to sneak up on your business. Luckily there are a lot of things you can do to keep your precious data safe. We’ve compiled a review of common data disasters and how to prevent them.

1. Physical loss

There are lots of ways for physical loss to occur. Nobody’s perfect and human error can cause physical damage, like sending a USB flash drive through the wash or spilling a cup of coffee on your laptop.

Smaller devices like smartphones and tablets are also easy to misplace or steal. That’s why it’s important to keep your important data in multiple locations. You should also consider cloud backup options for smaller devices so if you lose the hardware, you won’t lose the data.

How to protect your data from physical loss: Regular backups, backing up off-site/in the cloud, physical security measures like an alarm system and security tracker in smaller devices

2. Disaster

No matter how prepared you think you are, natural disasters can find ways to remind us just how insignificant we are with massive storms, raging wildfires that defy control and catastrophic flooding. Beyond nature’s wrath, our own human infrastructure also has its limits. An unexpected power surge or power outage can have similar effects.

What makes natural disasters particularly scary is that they prove the old adage, one backup is no backup. If you’re backing up your data only locally, a fire that sweeps through your office would destroy both your data AND your backup. That’s why offsite backup is an important option to consider. It’s not often the cloud will go down and most cloud providers guarantee uptime of 99.99%.

How to protect your data from disasters: Regular backups, backing up off-site, disaster recovery and business continuity planning

3. Corruption and failure

Computers aren’t perfect as anyone who has faced the blue screen of death can tell you. When a program freezes, data operations stop. Any work that was unsaved can potentially be lost and even that which is saved can become corrupted.

Failures can result from any number of issues from hardware malfunction to software problems. A few common issues are running too many apps at one time or using out of date software. The software that you’re working in can freeze or crash. The operating system itself or drivers it relies on can fail. A failure can even result from faulty hardware, like a power supply or the disc drive of your computer’s hard drive.

How to protect your data from corruption and failure: Regular backups, keeping multiple copies of your backups, proactive IT maintenance of your hardware and software

4. Cyberattacks

Unfortunately, the reality is that cybercrime is incredibly profitable. As business operations have become more digital more important data becomes prone to cyberattack.

Attackers will use any method they can to get your data, not just the old fashioned way of stealing computers and disk drives. They will use viruses to steal information or compromise data. The newest trend is ransomware. Ransomware is a type of malware that locks users out of their systems or their data until a ransom payment is made. Payment would be made through a credit card or another modern invention, cryptocurrency like bitcoin.

How to protect your data from cybersttacks: Regular backups, employee cybersecurity training, and multi-layered cybersecurity protection

5. Accidents

Sometimes you delete a file by accident. Sometimes you empty the recycle bin before you really meant to. Sometimes you accidentally delete the Oscar-awarding movie Toy Story 2 (if you can believe, it happened twice).

Accidental deletion becomes more likely when you have automated deletion options such as command line scripts and also when you have shared assets that multiple people are working on. It’s important to be clear about when to delete and who has the responsibility to do so.

What will save you every time is saving often and having good data retention procedures.

How to protect your data from accidents: Regular backups, backing up off-site, data retention procedures

Data recovery keyboard

Taking Action

You may have noticed a theme in the prevention tips above: regular backups, backing up off-site, and regular maintenance. Data loss isn’t a hypothetical risk. It’s one that can cripple your business. Luckily you can protect your data with planning, preparation, and prevention.

Managing data backups is an essential part of a data recovery plan. Employee education and a cybersecurity-oriented corporate culture can help keep hostile threats, accidental deletion, and physical damage under control. Monitoring backups and your network can ensure that your data, once backed up, stays ready for when you need it.

Review what your company’s needs are and how you are currently handling each of the types of potential data loss above. If you need help, contact a cybersecurity expert to make sure you have the right security measures in place to keep your business safe and secure.

Rebecca Moore

Sales and Marketing Specialist at Stronghold Data