If you’ve spent any time at all working with computers, you’ll likely have encountered the dangers and frustration of losing data. 

The majority of data loss is caused by human error – typically through a lack of care at how we share, store, handle and save our data. However, you might be surprised at how many other simple, avoidable threats exist to your personal and company files online. 


Cybercrime is a major cause of lost data and has been considered the number one threat faced by companies in recent years. The problems associated with cybercrime have escalated exponentially and it’s estimated by 2021, the total losses through online crime will hit $6 trillion globally – up from $3 trillion in 2015. 

To avoid falling victim to cybercriminals, companies must install bulletproof security on both internal and external networks, including protecting against malicious access from apps and third-party devices. A holistic approach to Data Loss Prevention (DLP), as discussed by Proofpoint, might include installing tiered access rights, ensuring regular back-ups, monitoring data access and improving employee training to better recognise the risks. All will help with your company’s overall online security. 

Accidental deletion

There can be few things more frustrating than working on a document for hours only to find you haven’t saved your changes or – worse still – have accidentally deleted your work. Our hard drives are jam-packed with documents and it’s extremely common to reopen an old file, make edits and then forget to save the changes. 

To avoid accidental data loss or deletion, you should look for auto back-up options – either through your Operating System (OS) or in the software you use. Most modern programs now offer auto back-up and save options to prevent you losing your work. Check your app or OS documentation for more details. 

Hard disk failures

Of all the intricate components inside a computer, none is more prone to failure than the hard drive. With so many moving parts contained in a drive – and the ever-increasing desire to make our devices smaller and smaller – it’s little wonder they fail so frequently. Even Solid-State Drives (SSDs) can develop problems over time, unfortunately. 

The best way to protect against hard drive failure is to make regular back-ups of your data – either on an external drive or, as is becoming increasingly common, remotely in cloud storage.

Lost or stolen hardware

Replacing a lost or stolen computer can be expensive for sure but often the data contained on the device is of far greater value. Even just personal memories like photographs or home videos can be impossible to replace if you lose a device. Unfortunately, in most cases, it’s quite unlikely you’ll find a lost computer – and even less likely you’ll recover one that is stolen. 

As with the other recommendations above, the greatest defense against lost or stolen devices and computers is to ensure automatic back-ups. Look at backing up your data as well as your entire OS, software, preferences and files. Most popular computers, laptops and mobile devices ship with options for mirror back-ups held remotely in the cloud, which you can automatically install on a new device, essentially giving you a carbon copy of your missing machine.

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