Avoiding Data Loss

By: James Walsh

It is only when one has lost valuable data that one takes preventive measures. Data loss is caused due to human errors, technical errors or natural disasters. From average users to large companies, the measures taken to prevent data loss vary.

Major Causes of Data Loss

The world of information technology has led to mind-boggling progress. Yet, the smallest error can result in huge data loss resulting in financial loss. Statistics reveal that hardware or system malfunction is the number one cause for data loss, occurring 44% of the time. Human error accounts for 32%, software malfunction occurs 4% of the time, viruses about 7% and natural disasters 3%.

When the magnitude of data loss is very large, it can lead to a company winding up business. Therefore, the necessity to take every precaution cannot be stressed on enough.

Storing Data on a Different Drive

Companies usually have a plan in place for data security and recovery in the event of data loss. They usually follow the Protection, Detection, Correction plan. Procedures and system configurations are put in place to minimise major threats to data integrity. It is important that data is not stored on the same drive as the operating system as the chances of losing data are high. Companies usually have two or more drives working together. This provides increased performance and various levels of recovery and fault tolerance.


Backup is the mantra that every computer user should live by. Backup has to be carried out regularly to prevent being caught unawares. The market is flooded with backup storage options ranging from floppies, CDs, DVDs, flash drives etc. These backup media come in varying capacities to suit varying budgets. Though these backup options are useful, they have a shelf life and, therefore, have to be changed and updated at frequent intervals.

To overcome the shortcomings of backup media, remote or online backup is becoming increasingly popular.

Virus Prevention

A computer virus is a computer program that copies itself and infects a computer without a user being aware. The damage caused by a virus can truly be catastrophic and what is worse, it can be easily passed on to other computers. A virus can spread from one computer to another when its host is taken to the unaffected computer by a removable storage medium or by e-mail.

Since viruses seem to creep out of almost nowhere, the installation of anti-virus software is a must. Software companies constantly upgrade the anti-virus software available, to counter new viruses that spread. Investing in quality anti-virus software is an integral part of preventing data loss.

One must also beware of e-mail attachments. If a user receives an e-mail with no name or an unfamiliar file name, it is best not to open it. Further, one must avoid saving e-mails on the hard drive.

Hard Copies

As long as a user has technology working well, the possibilities are unlimited. However, when data loss happens it can undo all the good work. To make sure one is always one step ahead, it is best to be prepared. Making hard copies of all important documents is not a futile exercise but extremely important. Having a hard copy ensures that even if data is lost from a computer, there is a solid backup.

Different File Names

Another data loss preventive measure is to make a copy of a file and store it under a different file name. If a file gets corrupted, one can access the copy without too much difficulty.

User Error

It takes a small error on the part of a user to result in data loss. A user can prevent this by taking advantage of safeguards included in the word processor. These features like versioning features and tracked changes go a long way in preventing user errors. The F12 key is extremely useful to help a user, use the advanced features to minimise data loss.


Information technology should be leveraged to enhance every aspect of our lives. However, a user must never take it for granted. There are a few guidelines that one must follow to get optimum benefit. Preventing data loss is the best way to enjoy the advantages of information technology.