Data Recovery

Data Loss: Why Does It Happen and How Can You Prevent It?

Whether you own a business that performs the majority of its operations online or you are merely someone who uses computers on an occasional basis, you likely have a significant amount of data stored on your hard drive and in the cloud. Everything from your credit card numbers to your social security number, and your tax identification number to your children’s birthdays, is likely floating around in cyberspace, unprotected. If your data gets hacked, you stand to lose a lot. You can protect yourself from the consequences of data loss by knowing the most common causes of such loss, what you can to do prevent them and how you can perform data recovery quickly and effectively.

Hard Drive Malfunction

Hard drive failures are the number-one way people lose data throughout the world. In the U.S. alone, nearly two-fifths of users lose their data to mechanical failures, which can occur for a variety of reasons. Those reasons are clumped into two categories: mechanical failure and misuse. Sixty percent of information loss events due to hard drive failure are the result of a mechanical breakdown, while the remaining 40 percent are the result of misuse. Because of their various moving parts and sensitivities, hard drives are prone to failure. Eventually, a hard drive will fail due to old age, but many fail prematurely due to outside factors. Such external factors may include the following:

  • Water or fire damage
  • Falls
  • Overheating
  • Power surges or outages

Internal factors can also affect the lifespan of a hard disk. Some internal factors to be wary of are software corruption, file corruption and drive read instability.

Human error also plays a role in the deterioration of a hard disk. The following events often lead to permanent and catastrophic data loss:

  • Accidental deletions of essential files
  • Tampering with the file system
  • Improper drive partitioning/formatting
  • Improper installation or removal of files

Some hard drive crashes are instantaneous and have obvious causes. Others, however, such as those that result from file and software corruption, may take time to occur. Slow hard drive crashes exhibit warning signs such as repetitive crashing, excessive overheating, issues rebooting, grinding, clicking or screeching noises, increasingly slow computer performance and files that either won’t open or seem to disappear.

How To Protect Your Data From Malfunction: If you notice any of the aforementioned symptoms, back up your data with data recovery software and an external drive. If you want to prepare for data loss disaster, consider creating an image backup, which can help you recover an entire system, including your applications and operating system, in the event that more than just your files disappear.

Cyberattacks

Ransomware like WannaCry and Petya data wiper virus recently took the cyber world by storm, in a bad way. Enterprises both large and small, and even some individual users, have felt the effects of these attacks, which were both extensive and long-lasting. How extensive? The numbers may shock you.

In 2018, more than 300,000 computers worldwide were hit with WannaCry software. The virus, which encrypted hard drives, was able to move so fast because the brains behind it combined it with EternalBlue, an NSA hacking tool. This tool allowed WannaCry to use worm-like abilities to infiltrate weak Windows systems. The worm encrypted users’ data and held it hostage until victims paid the $300 of bitcoin ransom. If users didn’t pay within three days, the ransom was doubled. If not paid within a week, the thieves deleted users’ data for good.  

While $300 doesn’t seem like a lot in exchange for total data recovery, cyber-security researchers urged users not to pay the ransom. In part, they did this because law enforcement always discourages rewarding criminals, but also, as they conducted more studies, they discovered that even if the victims did pay, the slobby coding behind the ransomware meant the masterminds behind the scheme couldn’t link payments to certain victims. As they received payments, they could only guess as to whom to send decryption keys. When a person did receive a decryption key, it was unlikely to work.

In the end, only 338 of WannaCry victims paid up. The criminals left the funds untouched for three months, at the end of which they cashed in on approximately $140,000. Though they didn’t earn much, the 300,000+ victims lost a lot.

In 2017, a similar ransomware made its rounds through Europe. As the Petya virus attacked computers, the creators told victims they could unlock their data for $300. However, further investigation revealed that the creators never had any intention of restoring users’ data, as despite the proclaimed ransom, the virus was designed to wipe information, not just encrypt it. Though only approximately 16,500 machines were hit by this virus, the fact that the data was gone completely was more devastating to businesses and individuals alike, as it meant there was no hope for data recovery.

How To Protect Your Data From Ransomware: There are a few ways in which you can protect your data from malware attacks—yes, even those as extensive as WannaCry. The first is to recognize one when you see it. More often than not, these threats come in the form of phishing emails. Once the email is opened, the virus does its job and infiltrates your system. If you see a fishy-looking email, don’t open it.

If it’s too late, and if you opened an email containing malware, you can always perform a mass rollback of folders and files to the moment at which you believe the malware first infiltrated your system. Doing this will ensure your information is available across multiple devices, so even though you have to worry about what the attacker does with your information, you can still conduct business as usual.

The best way to protect your data from ransomware, however, is to install virus protection and download data recovery and decryption software. Taking both these measures can not only reduce the likelihood of an attack but also enable you to recover your data should data loss occur.  

Natural Disasters and Power Surges

When Mother Nature has her way, she can do much more damage than knock down a few trees and demolish a few buildings—she can take out a company’s entire IT infrastructure. On a residential scale, she can fry a hard drive and any other devices hooked up to a power source.

In more extreme situations, natural disasters can literally destroy computer systems. When a fire or flood occurs, servers containing valuable data are either reduced to melted globs of plastic and contorted clumps of metal or are fried from the inside out because of water infiltration.

In less-severe situations, such as in the case of power outages and surges common of extreme weather events, your computer and the system will shut down momentarily. While you may assume that nothing more than a reboot will restore your data, this is often not the case. Because of the complexity of operating systems, systems need to undergo proper shut-down procedures. If they don’t, it can disrupt their operations and procedures, which are ongoing.

On a good day, this interruption can lead to the loss of a single file or two. On a bad day, however, your system may have been in the midst of writing to the file system, which is crucial for the startup process. If this process is interrupted and the file becomes corrupt, you would not be able to reboot your computer at all. 

How To Protect Your System From Surges: You can protect your system from power outages and surges by installing surge protectors. However, these aren’t foolproof. In the event of a lightning storm, flood or fire, you risk losing your computer and all of its data in a single instance. The best way to safeguard your data is to have a good backup in place, and preferably one off-site.

Regardless of the reason for your data loss, strong data recovery software can help you recover your data and continue operations as usual. Visit Virus.com’s products page to learn more about its different offerings and how each can help you.