Kroll Ontrack Survey Uncovers the Most Common Causes of Data Loss

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Global data loss causes survey reveals gaps between data loss cause perceptions and realities

Ultimately, we want to help users avoid the upset and frustration that can be felt as a result of data loss, especially if it involves the loss of personal data, as experienced by 63% of those we surveyed in the UK

According to a recent global survey on the causes of data loss, Kroll Ontrack, the leading provider of data recovery, information management and legal technology products and services, found 40% of home, business, government and channel users of information technology believe human error is the leading cause of data loss, up from 11% in 2005. While hardware and software errors still account for a significant amount of believed failures, this result illustrates the perceived complexity associated with implementing and maintaining today's storage technology.

Kroll Ontrack asked more than 2,000 participants from 17 countries across North America, Europe and Asia Pacific to explain the cause of their most recent data loss, and a staggering 40% of respondents believed that human error was a leading cause, even though only 27% said they could actually attribute a recent loss to human error. A further 29% identified hardware/system failure as the cause of their most recent data loss, which was reported as the cause of data loss by 56% of respondents in a similar survey in 2005. Despite the reported decline in hardware/system failures, UK Ontrack Data Recovery engineers have seen consistent percentages in hardware failures over the past five years.

Data loss attributed to computer viruses and natural disasters remained fairly low. In the 2010 survey, computer viruses accounted for less than 7% of recent data loss incidents, compared to 4% in 2005. Similarly, natural disasters were responsible for 3% of incidents in 2010, versus 2% in 2005.

"While technology and technology aptitude continue to improve year over year, the reality is that hardware failures, as well as human errors, continue to be factors," said Robert Winter, chief engineer, Ontrack Data Recovery, Kroll Ontrack. "No one factor can ever truly be overcome, making data loss a reality. Consequently, it is not a matter of if, but rather a matter of when. As a result, businesses and home users alike cannot rely on hope as their strategy. Instead, they must take proactive measures to ensure the individuals operating the storage system have current training, working redundancies and a continuity plan that is current and accessible in the event of a loss."

Surprisingly, while more than 90% of those surveyed have lost information, 18% "did not know" how their data loss occurred. This demonstrates an urgent need to educate businesses and consumers broadly on data recovery causes, protection tools and strategies, as well as the recovery protocol in the event of a data loss, ensuring further damage is not caused.

"Ultimately, we want to help users avoid the upset and frustration that can be felt as a result of data loss, especially if it involves the loss of personal data, as experienced by 63% of those we surveyed in the UK," said Phil Bridge, managing director, Kroll Ontrack UK. "Data loss is stressful regardless of whether it's a home user whose data has been corrupted by a virus or a business that accidentally deletes critical files, volumes, virtual machines or a SAN LUN and there is no backup - or worse, the backup is redundant or corrupt. Kroll Ontrack is available around the clock to remedy virtually any data loss. With unmatched experts performing virtually any type of recovery, Ontrack Data Recovery can prioritise the recovery strategy according to the most critical needs of the customer and locate specific information on used areas of the drive as well as specified file types."

For more information about Kroll Ontrack and its Ontrack Data Recovery services and solutions, visit

For more information contact:
Sarah Allison
+44 (0)20 8846 0715

About Ontrack Data Recovery
Through its Ontrack Data Recovery products and services, Kroll Ontrack is the largest, most experienced and technologically advanced provider of data recovery products and services worldwide. Using its hundreds of proprietary tools and techniques, Ontrack Data Recovery solutions help businesses and consumers recover lost or corrupted data from all types of operating systems and media and storage devices through its do-it-yourself, remote and in-lab capabilities. Kroll Ontrack offers a free initial consultation for customers experiencing a data loss.

About Kroll Ontrack
Kroll Ontrack provides technology-driven services and software to help legal, corporate and government entities as well as consumers manage, recover, search, analyse, produce and present data efficiently and cost-effectively. In addition to its award-winning suite of software, Kroll Ontrack provides hard drive data recovery, data destruction, paper and electronic disclosure, document review, computer forensics, secure information services, ESI and jury consulting, and trial presentation services. Kroll Ontrack is the technology services division of Kroll Inc., the global risk consulting company. For more information about Kroll Ontrack and its offerings please visit:;


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Sarah Allison
Kroll Ontrack
+44 (0)20 8846 0715
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