What are the devices most affected by data loss?

15 July 2016 by Milagros Gamero

As some of you may know, we’ve been discussing the Data Loss Index (DLI) for a while. On this occasion I’d like to focus on some of the repeat trends we keep seeing throughout time and among the many participating countries.

During the period of April to June 2016 we received over 3,000 anonymous entries of people who had lost data in their devices.

Reasons, types of devices and operating systems differed, however there were underlying similarities in the types of problems experienced.

What are the most affected devices?

From a total of 3,163 entries received during the period of 1 April – 30 June 2016, 35% related to external drives and a further 34% to laptops.  Is this what we should expect? Well, it’s not a surprising result given that the intrinsic mobile nature of these devices puts them at a higher risk of experiencing damage.

Are people more careless with their laptops?

Perhaps. Although laptops are considered mobile devices by most users, they are still fragile and need to be treated with special care. To prevent physical damage to the hard drive, we recommend you shut down the laptop (even if it means putting it to sleep) before moving the device. If you shift the laptop while it is actively operating, the hard drive will most likely be spinning and will therefore be at a higher risk of experiencing a mechanical (physical) damage should the laptop be accidentally banged against any surface.

To HDD or not to HDD? That is the question and (some of us) are unsure

While most of the users (79%) reported having an HDD in their devices, up to 14% said they were unsure as to what type of memory their device was using.

It is important to find out this information as whether your device uses an HDD or an SSD can affect how your data is stored and/or deleted, which can affect your data recovery process and cost.

The obvious benefit of using an SSD (aside from the increased speed) is that one needs to worry less about the device suffering from any type of physical damage. SSDs are generally more robust and work well in high mobility devices.

HDDs are cheaper and more common in the market, however they are better suited for devices which will be used in a fixed location. If you do plan to move the device (for example in the case of a laptop) we recommend you power it off before moving the device around.

There are a few not so obvious effects of choosing SSD over HDD which one ought to bear in mind. For example, SSDs can be affected with logical damage and are more likely to completely overwrite deleted files before overwriting them with new data. Whereas HDDs may appear to have deleted data, when in reality that space is marked as ‘free’ and is ready to be overwritten with new data when required.

Therefore, if you (accidentally?) perform a quick format on an HDD, you will probably still be able to recover the data. A quick format in an SSD is irrecoverable as it will wipe out empty areas in preparation for writing new data.

As always, it is best to be prepared and have backup copies of your data. Though a cumbersome task, it can mean your precious data will always be protected.

Detecting the undetectable

Over the last months we’ve seen ‘ undetected drives’ as the number one culprit for data loss in our Data Recovery Self-Assessment Tool. During this last period, 27% reported it as the cause for their data loss (the top reported cause!). But what does undetected really mean in terms of damage to the drive?

For starters, undetected is an umbrella term that covers electronic failures, problems with the operating system, deleted data, mechanical failures and even corruption to the drive (side note: a further 7% specified corruption as the cause for the loss).

While this type of loss is prevalent in most data loss cases, the types of damage experienced in the drive will mean that it will most likely have to be sent in to a specialist data recovery company. Requiring a dedicated clean room, the necessary tools and expert engineers, this type of damage can be cumbersome though by no means will the data be unrecoverable.

Normally, further specialist work will be required (especially if the damage is physical) which can make the recovery time longer and potentially pricier. In most cases though, it is likely that the data can still be salvaged.


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