10 Reasons That Causes Data Loss (and How To Prevent Them)

by Carson

FromFrom time to time, we might lose some data because of various reasons. Today, we’ll discuss 10 reasons that cause data loss and how to prevent this from happening. Let’s get started.

Table of Contents

  1. Accidental deletion
  2. Kernel panics and app crashes
  3. Malware and hackers
  4. Other attacks
  5. Disasters
  6. Data corruption
  7. Power outages
  8. Liquid damage
  9. Theft
  10. Hard drive failure

1. Accidental Deletion

As humans, we inevitably make mistakes. This applies to data management, too. Imagine that you want to remove an unnecessary section from a document to make it more concise and improve its quality. However, you deleted an irreplaceable section and saved and closed the document because you aren’t focusing on your file when you remove this.

Now, if you retrieve that file, the section that you don’t want to keep is still there, but the most important paragraphs are gone, without a chance to undo that mistake!

Well, this may not even be the worst case. Important files and photos might get permanently deleted from the operating system, and you might not even realize it until you want to access it, which is sometimes too late because the data might already be overwritten!

When you encounter this screen, think again about whether you should retain the file or not
Image edited by Canva

2. Kernel Panics and App Crashes

Suppose you’re working on a blog post, but you haven’t saved it since you’ve started writing. Suddenly, the screen freezes and the Blue Screen of Death appears, meaning that you have no choice but to restart your computer. Now that you try to access the file, but it isn’t even there!

It doesn’t only happen when the whole system freezes. It also occurs when an app freezes and quits, or even because of human error since we might close apps when there are still unsaved files (although safeguards like popups and autosave functions usually exist).

3. Malware and Hackers

If you’re working on your computer, and suddenly, a ransomware message appears, you probably have no choice but to accept data loss, erase the drive and start over (since you mustn’t pay the ransom).

If you’re infected or hacked in any other way, expect to lose some data, too. For example, the malware may have deleted some files, and you might have to wipe your hard drive to prevent the malware from reemerging.

4. Other Attacks

Do you know that, according to Kaspersky, 26% of DDoS attacks result in data loss? They are commonly used to prevent the website owner and users from detecting other attacks that are being conducted, including data theft or causing data loss!

Moreover, SQL injection is an issue, too. Some websites or web apps may forget to “sanitize” user input, causing some of the inputs to be recognized as instructions by a database, causing data breaches or even complete data loss.

5. Disasters

Suppose you have a computer containing precious photos and important information, but you haven’t stored a copy of them on the cloud. Suddenly, a fire started, and you have to leave the computer behind and escape from your house. After that, all data was lost because the computer and the external drive you had as a backup was gone.

In fact, data loss doesn’t need to happen because of reasons related to your computer. In these circumstances (like in fires, earthquakes, tornadoes, etc.), your device and backup drives might be completely destroyed, rendering data in it unreadable and/or irretrievable.

6. Data Corruption

Imagine that you want to work on an important project file where the deadline is near, and you try to proofread it so that no grammatical mistakes can hamper your writing. But when you try to access the file, the computer shows an error message instead, telling you that it can’t open the file. In that case, you may be worried that you have to write the report, or even obtain the data (in case the database is also corrupted) all over again, right?

All of you know that you have to save all data you’re working on before closing apps or shutting down your computer, right? But the process might be interrupted by a bug. It might cause app crashes or even kernel panics, causing your file to be incomplete when the session terminates. This can cause all kinds of awkward consequences, including corrupted and unreadable files.

7. Power Outages

However, this can become more serious and even costly when a power outage occurs unexpectedly.

Suppose you’re working on some business files that you haven’t backed up when suddenly, the lights go out, and the computer shuts down completely. When you try to turn it on again after that, you saw an error message right after the computer boots, telling you that some system files are corrupted. What’s more, even if you managed to reach the files, there will likely be some unsaved information that you need to work on again.

Furthermore, these kinds of unexpected shutdowns can even cause wear and tear, causing components (such as your hard drive) to fail sooner, increasing the likelihood of further data loss in the future.

8. Liquid Damage

Imagine working on a laptop when suddenly, a cup falls and spills water onto the keyboard. Even if you have done the right thing quickly afterward, you might still experience data loss sooner or later.

Firstly, the components inside your computer physically don’t like touching water. The liquid might cause them to fail instantly, not allowing the computer to turn on again, no matter how long it takes to dry. Secondly, even if the computer recovers, some additional wear and tear might already exist in your device, causing it to fail sooner than usual.

9. Theft

Imagine that you’re having a trip to the grocery store. And when you return home, you find something missing, including a computer and the external drives that you stored the data in as a backup. Since you don’t have a backup in the cloud, all data on your device is undoubtedly inaccessible to you.

Like scenario #5, this is a physical way that your data can be gone for good. Remember that software and hardware problems aren’t the only reasons where your data can be lost. Physically destroying and/or stealing your computer can cause all your data to be gone for good, too.

10. Hard Drive Failure

Now, this is the reason that you might be blaming for when you realize you’ve lost all data. It’s the failure of the storage device.

Suppose you’re moving your laptop and you’ve dropped it. And you cannot boot it back up. In that case, one of the reasons for the phenomenon is that the read-write head of your hard drive comes into contact with the hard drive’s platter, which stores information. This ultimately erases all data in the affected areas and corrupts files in (or partially in) this area.

Hard drive failure can be caused by a number of reasons, including liquid damage, drops, shocks, power surges, head crashes, manufacturing defects, or even wear and tear. However, there is one common result of this type of failure: potential data loss.

How to Prevent Data Loss?

Regardless of how scary data loss is, we can prevent this from happening. Here are a few things you should do to protect your files.

  • Back up your data and verify copies
  • Avoid being infected and/or hacked
  • Manage data access levels
  • Be focused when you delete files or sections of text
  • Listen for unusual sounds

1. Back Up Your Data and Verify Copies

Perhaps the most important way to avoid data loss is to back up your files. If you haven’t done it already, do it immediately. You never know when data loss strikes.

To cover almost all situations, you should keep copies in the cloud and on-site physical locations such as other devices and/or drives. Ideally, the device used to store backups should not be used as often as your primary ones to limit exposure to the Internet.

Moreover, you should verify the integrity of each backup to ensure they are not compromised, corrupted, and/or infected. If they are, the chances of the scenario where there are no valid copies of data are significantly higher than they would be otherwise. In that case, you should fix your backup by filling in correct copies of data.

2. Avoid Being Infected and/or Hacked

Other than backing up, there are also other solutions to protect your data. One of them is to avoid suffering malware. This includes checking for updates and scanning your computer daily, avoiding suspicious emails and messages, and using complex, hard-to-guess passwords and multi-factor authentication. Here are 22 tips to secure your data from malware.

3. Manage Data Access Levels

Besides, you also have to manage your data access permissions (i.e., serving the correct data to the right person). For instance, the average user should only have write permission for his/her own documents. Meanwhile, administrators can have more permission to read and write on more files and the right to modify user information for others.

Standard accounts have access to their files, while administrator accounts can modify system configurations as well
Image edited by Canva

However, this comes with a disadvantage: If hackers can access the administrator account, they can do anything they want. Therefore, it’s best not to use your administrator account unless some operations require you to be an administrator to run.

4. Be Focused when You Delete Files or Sections of Text

When you remove files or sections of text from a file, make sure you’re focused on what you’re doing. If not, you increase the chances of deleting the wrong thing, which results in scenario #1.

If you realize you have deleted something important, shut down your computer immediately. After that, prepare another device where you search for a data recovery solution. You have to confirm whether there are complete backups of your data before proceeding. If so, just restore the backup. Otherwise, make sure you read customer reviews carefully and ensure the developer’s name is correct so that you don’t install malware on your computer.

If you can connect both computers with a compatible cable and recognize the one with lost data as an external drive, do so. For instance, Macs can use Target Disk Mode or Share Disk to enable data transfer between computers without using the Internet.

If you can’t, simply install the software in an external drive which will connect to the computer with lost data. After that, start up the computer, and run the data recovery software from there.

5. Listen for Unusual Sounds

If you hear weird sounds from your hard drive, shut down your computer immediately. It could indicate a hard drive failure, such as a head crash or repeated failed read/write attempts.

In this scenario, it’s up to the decision of the experts, but you’ll probably have to replace your drive and reinstall the operating system. In that case, you have to salvage as much data as possible through backups and/or data recovery services that cover hardware failures (if necessary).


In this article, we’ve mentioned 10 things that can cause data loss and how to protect your data so they probably won’t disappear into thin air. You don’t want to lose work documents or invaluable photos because of a preventable error, right?

Please learn more in the references section to further avoid data loss. Besides, if we missed any points, feel free to comment below so that we can improve the article.

References and Credits

  1. Consolidated Technologies, Inc. (n.d.). 10 Common Causes of Data Loss. Retrieved August 14, 2021, from https://consoltech.com/blog/10-common-causes-of-data-loss/
  2. (n.d.). 7 Greatest Causes of Data Loss. https://www.databackuponlinestorage.com/7_Causes_of_Data_Loss
  3. Mark Campbell. (n.d.). What Causes Data Loss? Retrieved August 14, 2021, from https://www.unitrends.com/blog/backup-what-causes-data-loss
  4. Kaspersky. (2015, September 17). Collateral damage: 26% of DDoS attacks lead to data loss. Retrieved August 15, 2021, from https://www.kaspersky.com/about/press-releases/2015_collateral-damage-26-of-ddos-attacks-lead-to-data-loss
  5. Kim Zetter. (2016, January 16). Hacker Lexicon: What Are DoS and DDoS Attacks? Retrieved August 15, 2021, from https://www.wired.com/2016/01/hacker-lexicon-what-are-dos-and-ddos-attacks/
  6. Paul Rubens. (2018, May 7). What Is SQL Injection and How Can It Hurt You?. Retrieved August 15, 2021, from https://www.esecurityplanet.com/threats/what-is-sql-injection-and-how-can-it-hurt-you/
  7. Constrast Security. (n.d.). SQL Injection. Retrieved August 15, 2021, from https://www.contrastsecurity.com/knowledge-hub/glossary/sql-injection
  8. Ed Pollack. (2017, February 17). Sanitizing Inputs: Avoiding Security and Usability Disasters. Retrieved August 15, 2021, from https://www.sqlshack.com/sanitizing-inputs-avoiding-security-usability-disasters/
  9. Simon Batt. (2020, May 5). How Power Outages Can Damage Your Computer (And How to Protect It). Retrieved August 15, 2021, from https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/effects-power-outages-can-computer/
  10. (2017, June 23). 6 Ways to Prevent Data Loss. Retrieved August 15, 2021, from https://gxait.com/it/6-ways-prevent-data-loss/
  11. Bill Margeson. (n.d.). How to prevent data loss. Retrieved August 15, 2021, from https://www.computerworld.com/article/2579998/how-to-prevent-data-loss.html
  12. Jane Courtnell. (2019, October 31). How To Prevent Data Loss and Implement Data Recovery. Retrieved August 15, 2021, from https://www.process.st/data-recovery/
  13. Tim Fisher. (2020, October 28). What to Do When Your Hard Drive Is Making Noise. Retrieved August 16, 2021, from https://www.lifewire.com/what-to-do-when-your-hard-drive-is-making-noise-2624891
  14. (n.d.). Should my hard drive be making that noise? Retrieved August 16, 2021, from https://www.fields-data-recovery.co.uk/blog/should-my-hard-drive-be-making-that-noise-

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