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The Top 4 Causes of Data Loss: Is Your Small Business Prepared?

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small business data loss

Imagine losing every document stored on the computer you're using right now. It’s a scary thought! Data loss is a serious threat for small businesses and can have major consequences for operations and business continuity. The first step to preventing data loss is understanding why it might happen. Keep reading for four of the top reasons why small businesses might suffer from data loss.

1. Hard Drive Damage

The most common cause of data loss is hardware malfunction – typically in the form of damage to the hard drive. Hard drive crashes can result from a variety of factors, from mechanical issues to human misuse. Hard drives can also be damaged when a computer overheats, which can result from overuse or even a build-up of dust in the computer.

Below are some signs to watch out for that indicate a hard drive may be failing:

  • The hard drive frequently crashes
  • The computer is unusually hot
  • The hard drive experiences issues while booting up
  • Processing speeds are continually slow
  • The computer freezes frequently
  • The computer makes clicking or grinding noises
  • Files become corrupted randomly
  • Files will not open

As with any machine, a hard drive will wear out over time, but there are ways to mitigate the impact of regular wear and tear.

  • Keep your computer away from excessive dust and clean the machine on a regular basis
  • Update the operating system
  • Utilize power and sleep modes
  • Only download software that is necessary for your operations

2. Viruses and Malware

Most people associate data loss with viruses and malware that can steal and delete massive amounts of data, bringing business operations to a standstill. Computer virus infections can stem from any number of vulnerabilities, such as opening a corrupted link or downloading unsafe software or apps that invite malware to enter the computer system to damage or steal files.

You can guard against malware with anti-virus software. Check out this article to review top anti-virus software options for small businesses.

3. Power Outages

Power outages can interrupt small business operations substantially and often without warning due to a natural disaster, weather event, construction, or damage to power lines. This can result in the loss of unsaved data and cause existing files to be corrupted because of improper shutdown.

If power outages or surges leading to improper shutdowns happen frequently, the hard drive might be more prone to crash or have a shorter lifespan.

The best way to protect against the impact of power outages is by making regular, automatic system backups. Your business should also use surge protectors to help prevent possible damage from power surges. Having a generator or backup battery system can offer the ability to save or back up business data during a power outage.

4. Human Error

Humans make mistakes. But for businesses, human error can result in unintentional data loss. Without realizing it, employees can overwrite important files or delete information that is critical to your business operations. Because of this, proper training is critical. Your employees should have a clear understanding of how the data processing and backup systems work within your small business. A clearly documented workflow can reduce the risk of human error, save employees time and make mistakes – which are inevitable – easier to spot and remedy.

Data loss can have severe implications for small businesses. By understanding the most common forms of data loss, you can better protect your business and maintain business continuity. If, despite your best efforts, your small business experiences data loss, there is still hope! Recovering accidentally deleted data can be as simple as looking through your computer’s Recycle Bin. When lost data is not as easy to retrieve, file recovery software can be a great tool to have on-hand.

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