Data loss can be devastating to a business, regardless of size. Losing data can lead to delays in projects, money lost in recovering data, and negative effects on customer experience, among a plethora of others. That said, preventing data loss should be one of the highest priorities of a business, no matter how small.
The first step in preventing data loss is knowing what causes it in the first place. Here are the common causes of data loss and how businesses can avoid it:
Poor backup practices
Backing up data is one of the best ways to prevent data loss in the event of a cyber attack, system failure, or other similar circumstances. Businesses that fail to back up their data regularly or don’t back up at all put themselves at risk of losing precious data to theft or loss of devices. With that in mind, business owners must ensure that their data is being backed up regularly on both physical devices and cloud-based systems. Furthermore, backups should be automated to ensure that data is being stored on the dot without fail, such as in Office 365 backups.
Accidental deletion of important files, data overwrites, liquid spills on devices, and hard drive drops that wipe out data: all of these human errors and more are sometimes unavoidable, but they can often be detrimental to businesses.
To avoid human error from causing data loss as much as possible, here are the following strategies that businesses can employ:
- Proper training on data processing and back up
- Adequate reminders about how to handle devices properly
- Automation of certain business tasks to avoid accidental deletion or overwriting
- Optimization of workflow, streamlining of crucial business processes
- Using file recovery software to retrieve deleted files
Viruses and malware
Viruses and malware aim to steal or delete businesses’ data, which often leads to the derailment of operations and sometimes even the destruction of a data system. Viruses and malware commonly infiltrate business systems through malicious e-mails or websites. For example, an attack can occur when an employee clicks on a link in an e-mail, not knowing that it leads to a corrupted website. The next thing they know, the malware has entered the system and is corrupting their computer.
Here are the best ways to prevent viruses and malware from getting into your system and causing data loss:
- Install appropriate anti-virus software in all of your business computers
- Ensure that anti-virus software is updated regularly
- Train employees to not click on suspicious links, websites, and downloadables
- Program automatic anti-virus scans to spot viruses or malware early on
Hard drive damage
The hard drive is the most fragile part of a computer or laptop. A single drop can wipe out an entire hard drive, and in the worst-case scenario, it can leave businesses with no way to recover their data.
Preventing hard drive damage starts with careful handling of computers and laptops. However, there is no surefire way to eliminate the risk of human misuse. Thus, businesses can protect their data from losses caused by hard drive damage by backing up data on the cloud, cleaning computers regularly to prevent overheating, and replacing hard drives with Solid State Drives (SSD).
Unlike traditional hard drives, SSDs do not have moving parts and are therefore more resistant against damages caused by jostling or dropping. Although SSDs are a bit more expensive than traditional drives, the price is worth it if it means extra data protection.
Laptop or smartphone theft is one of the most common causes of data breaches and data loss in recent years. Aside from the cost of losing the device itself, businesses also have to pay for retrieving the lost data or doing damage control following a breach, and this is something that most small businesses can’t afford.
Businesses must ensure that their devices have anti-theft software, especially those with sensitive information stored in them. Furthermore, devices must be kept in locked rooms when not in use, and employee training must be done to ensure that company devices are not left unattended. It’s also a good idea to disallow employees from logging into company systems using personal devices. Otherwise, a cybercriminal can gain access to the business’s system through the employee’s stolen device.
Preventing data loss is a never-ending job, but it is necessary to keep your data safe and your business smooth sailing. Failure to do so can mean devastating effects on your company. Hence, proper measures must be done to prevent data loss, whether caused by human error, outside forces, or system failures.
What other common causes of data loss can you think of? Have you ever experienced such a thing in your own business? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.