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Q: Personal Computing Data Loss Statistics ( Answered,   1 Comment )
Subject: Personal Computing Data Loss Statistics
Category: Computers
Asked by: largemammal-ga
List Price: $120.00
Posted: 24 May 2005 17:18 PDT
Expires: 23 Jun 2005 17:18 PDT
Question ID: 525224
I am looking for recently (within the last 3 years, the more recent,
the better) published data on home computing data loss.  Specific
examples of what I am looking for include:

- % of home computing users who experienced a hard drive failure

- % of home computing users who lost data as a result of a disaster
(e.g fire, flood, etc...)

- % of home computing users who lost data as a result of a virus or
other malicious attack

- % of home computing users who purchased an external hard drive to
protect against data loss?  growth year over year?

- % of home computing users who purchased a remote backup solution to
protect against data loss?  growth year over year?

- # or % of home users who attempted to restore lost data using one of
the aforementioned backup solution only to fail in this effort for any
reason (user error, hardware or service failure)?

- what are examples of online services that provide network based
backup, and are any of them any good?

I am more interested in data from independent studies or journalistic
sources than data provided by a business in the space, however, some
business may provide relevant data that is attributable to an
independent source, and consequently of interest.

I realize there are many sub-questions here.  A great answer will
definitely get a good tip.

Subject: Re: Personal Computing Data Loss Statistics
Answered By: adiloren-ga on 29 May 2005 22:58 PDT
Hello and thank you for the question. I have outlined the available
statistics on data loss below and also addresed your interest in data
recovery solutions and network solutions.

I hope this helps. 

Please let me know if you require any clarification, as there is an
awful lot of information here.


Data Loss Statistics:

The Cost of Lost Data (includes graphs and detailed statistics)
The importance of investing in that ?ounce of prevention? 
David M. Smith, Ph.D.

Computer Reseller News
June 21, 2004
" The most common cause of data loss, according to engineers at data
recovery vendor Ontrack who pick up the pieces afterwards, is hardware
failure (78 per cent), followed by human error (11 per cent), software
corruption (seven per cent) and viruses (two per cent)."

Nearly One in Four Computer Users Have Lost Content To Blackouts,
Viruses and Hackers According To New National Survey

?More than two-thirds (69 percent) of home computer users and nearly
half (46 percent) of work computer users personally back up their data
only once a month or less often, or they never back up their data. As
a result, computer users are often completely unprepared for sudden
attacks by hackers, viruses, blackouts and electrical failure.?

Digital Marketing Services
Internet Security Study

Key Findings:

"**40% of computer users have been infected by a virus.
**17% of computer users do not have anti-virus software.
**75% of computer users either don't have or don't update their
anti-virus software on a regular basis.?
(** added for clarity)

Data Loss Statistics - How much will data loss affect you?

Key Findings:

"U.S. businesses lose over $12 billion per year because of data loss.
*	Hardware or system failure accounts for 78% of all data loss.
*	Human error accounts for 11% of all data loss.
*	Software corruption account for 7% of all data loss.
*	Natural disasters account for only 1% of all data loss.
*	More vital data is being stored in smaller spaces.
*	Instant access to electronic data has become more crucial in day-to-day business.
*	Disaster prevention and recovery plans are often overlooked or outdated.
*	Backup tools and techniques are not 100% reliable.
*	93% of companies that lost their data center for 10 days or more due
to a disaster filed for bankruptcy within one year of the disaster.
50% of businesses that found themselves without data management for
this same time period filed for bankruptcy immediately. (Source:
National Archives & Records Administration in Washington)
*	File corruption and data loss are becoming much more common,
although loss of productivity continues to be the major cost
associated with a virus disaster. (Source: 7th Annual ICSA Lab's Virus
Prevalence Survey, March 2002) "

Fast and Present Danger: In-Home Study on Broadband Security among
American Consumers
National Cyber Security Alliance
May 2003

Key Findings:

"**91% of Broadband Users Have Spyware Lurking on Home Computers 

**97% of Broadband Parents Do Not Use Parental Controls 

**67% of Users Do Not Have Properly and Securely Configured Firewalls 

**62% Do Not Regularly Update Anti-Virus Software 

**Despite Vulnerabilities, 86% Keep Sensitive Information on Home Computer"
(**added for clarity)

Understanding Data Loss 

Causes of Lost Data:	
Human Error	26%
Computer Viruses  4%
Natural Disasters	 2%	 
Hardware or System Problem 56%
Software Corruption or Program Problem 9%

Microsoft (also includes many potential solutions to prevent data loss)

"Hardware failure was the most common cause of data loss, accounting
for 42 percent of data loss incidents, and includes losses due to hard
drive failure and power surges. Human error accounted for 30 percent
of data loss episodes, and includes accidental deletion of data, as
well as accidental damage done to the hardware (for example, damage
caused by dropping a laptop). Software corruption accounted for 13
percent of data loss incidents. Computer viruses, including boot
sector and file infecting viruses, accounted for 7 percent of data
loss episodes. Theft, especially prevalent among laptops, accounted
for 5 percent of data loss incidents. Finally, hardware destruction,
which includes damage caused by floods, lightning, and brownouts,
accounted for 3 percent of all data loss incidents."

"The following chart shows the most common causes of data loss: 
Hardware or system malfunction	44%
Human Error	32%
Software corruption or program malfunction 	14%
Computer viruses	7%
Natural Disaster	3%"

Leading Causes of Data Loss Understanding%20data%20loss.pdf

Hardware or System Malfunction 
Human Error 
Software Corruption or Program Malfunction 
Computer Viruses 
Natural Disasters 


"You never know when or why you might lose your data. The most common
causes of data loss are:
*	42% - Hardware failure
*	30% - Human error 
*	13% - Software corruption 
*	7% - PC virus 
*	5% - Theft 
*	3% - Other "

Californi Data Recovery

"*Hardware or system failure accounts for 78% of all data loss.

*	Human error accounts for 11% of all data loss.

*	Software corruption account for 7% of all data loss.

*	Natural disasters account for only 1% of all data loss."

Protect Data Information

Hardware or System Malfunctions (44 percent of all data loss)

Human Error (32 percent of all data loss)

Software Corruption (14 percent of all data loss)

Computer Viruses (7 percent of all data loss)

Natural Disasters (3 percent of all data loss

Data Recovery (with graph)


"Research shows hardware or system malfunction (44%) and human error
(32%) to be the most common causes of data loss, while software
corruption or program malfunction account for 14%. Only 7% is
attributed to computer viruses and 3% to natural disasters."

Harris Interactive Survey

Key Findings:

**"...three out of five personal computer users have lost an
electronic file they thought they had sufficiently stored and only one
in four users frequently back up digital files, even when 85 percent
of computer users say they are very concerned about losing important
digital data.

**"Computer users' fears prompt most of them -- 82 percent -- to keep
a hard copy of important documents they've also saved electronically.

**"Thirty-seven percent of the survey's respondents admitted to
backing up their files less than once per month and nine percent
admitted they have never backed up their files. More than 22 percent
said backing up information is on their to-do list, but they seldom do
it. "

** "Among home computer users who backup information, 68 percent save
the things most important to them in multiple places, the hard drive
as well as removable media such as floppy disks (79 percent) compact
disks (CDs, 58 percent). Floppy disks and hard drives are not as
reliable as CDs and DVD (digital video disks), which can have a
lifetime shelf life."

ICSA Labs' 8th Annual Virus Prevalence Survey (March 2003) 

Key findings

Security Wire Digest 12/02

?A survey conducted by the group found that 84 percent of home
computer users are concerned about security, but more than
three-fourths don't take basic precautions, such as updating antivirus

Storage Disaster: Will You Recover? 
March 5, 2001
By Jon William Toigo


Data Security Information:

CERT Coordination center (Carnegie Mellon University)
(excelent resource for independent articles on data loss and computer security)

Home Network Security


PC World 5/05
The Ten Commandments of PC Security
Fight off nasty viruses, worms, and Trojan horses by following these simple rules.

Papers on Data Security
"Data Loss 

The most common cause of data loss is human error. In particular, DEL
*.*(delete all files, when used in the wrong sub directory) is very
common. Everyone at one time or another makes mistakes and data
recovery is more often than not, unsuccessful. Other causes of data
loss are due to hardware failure, physical disk defects and viral

By far the most effective means to protect your data investment is to
backup on a regular basis. A backup prevents data problems from being

(i) The Virus Problem 

Viruses and Trojan's, are a common cause of data loss. 

What is a virus 
A virus is a program designed to copy itself from one medium to
another without the user being aware of it. Most viruses are diskette
based and propagate by writing to the boot sector of the disk. This
can damage the data on your diskette.

What is a Trojan 
A Trojan is a program that deliberately sets out to destroy your data.
They fall into two categories
1.	Time Bombs
A Trojan will activate itself on a particular date. It finds the date
when it is loaded into memory, as the computer has to keep a record of
the date in memory to function.
Logic Bombs 
Logic bombs are triggered off by a particular sequence of events or
conditions, for example; a key combination, number of files on a disk,

Virus scanners are available on all machines in the computer lab and
are updated on a regular basis to aid detection of new viruses. A
virus will write itself into memory, therefore it is advisable to scan
the machine before you start using it, as the machine may be infected
from a previous user. There is a utility called virus guard installed
on each machine that will notify you automatically if your disk is
infected. If your disk is infected, do not bypass the guard program as
you will infect the machine and your disk will remain infected. Unless
you are well aquatinted with disinfection procedures call the I.T. lab
supervisor on duty. You can jeopardise your data by inappropriate use
of the software.

If you have concerns about virus handling, please call the I.T. lab
supervisor on duty for a demonstration of the techniques."


Suggestions on Backup and Recovery:

How to Cut Your Data Losses;
Data recovery specialist Dan Gardner offers tips on how to avoid
losing data and what can be done when disasters happen.
June 2, 2003
Lucas Mearian

"As vice president of development at Renew Data Corp., an electronic
evidence and data recovery services provider in Austin, Dan Gardner
played the leading role in the development of the company's
proprietary forensic and data recovery software. Gardner recently
spoke with Computerworld's Lucas Mearian about data recovery best
practices, how Renew Data restores lost data and how administrators
can minimize the risk of data loss.
What should administrators do when faced with a storage media failure?
Our advice is if the hard drive is making a noise or a tape is
stopping, don't try to fix it yourself. Once the media starts to fail,
it's got a pretty limited lifetime. I recommend pulling the plug.
Powering down can take time and cause further damage.
Don't be hasty to try things that may cause further damage, or don't
try things that may cause logical damage or data loss. It doesn't cost
a nickel to call us and just get a quick assessment of whether or not
there is a data recovery scenario involved.
What can IT do to protect against the most common causes of data loss?
One point that gets overlooked in policies and procedures for disaster
recovery is testing. There's an old saying, "One test is worth a
thousand opinions."
Which types of problems are the toughest to remedy? By far, the
physical damage. These types of things involve taking it into a clean
room and trying to attempt a repair of what's repairable and then
attempting to read what's readable. It's very labor-intensive and
requires the skill of someone who knows what they're doing in order to
manipulate the hardware into a readable state."

Backups that Really Work

Paul Bray, Computer Reseller News 21 Jun 2004

"BC and DR need to cover a number of eventualities, and the
technologies employed may vary according to the nature of the threat
and the volume and criticality of the data - not to mention the extent
of the customer's paranoia and the depth of its pockets.

Big vendors such as Computer Associates, Hewlett-Packard, IBM and
Veritas have a large slice of the market, and argue that their
integrated solutions are the easiest to install and upgrade.

But Samuel believes there is no one key vendor. "There are lots people
with a variety of technologies and no one spans the whole process, so
you need strategic alliances to get the best solution," he says.

The most important BC applications require online backup systems that
can cut in immediately if primary systems fail. If a solution doesn't
include magic words such as Raid and mirroring, and increasingly
clustering, replication and high availability, it probably won't get
past the proposal stage.

SANs are preferred by corporates and some larger SMEs for their
robustness and upgradability, but the cheapness and plug-and-play
simplicity of NAS still has significant appeal for smaller

June 2, 2003

"What's it going to cost me to get my data back? The most common
scenario is a single hard drive. Depending on the type of failure,
whether it's a logical failure or to a severe physical failure, it's
between $300 and $2,000."

July 7, 2004
New scale for data loss revealed by Ontrack Data Recovery

"Data recovery products and services provider Ontrack Data Recovery
has announced that it has produced a data disasters Richter Scale for
grading the severity of IT disasters.
The new offering is designed to help companies avert data disasters by
providing a multi-tier disaster recovery plan. Companies can also use
the Ontrack data disaster Richter Scale to identify and minimise the
causes of data loss by implementing an appropriate crisis management
and disaster recovery plan.
Ontrack claims that companies should devise and refer to disaster
recovery plans immediately if data is lost for any reason.
No financial information was revealed."

Selecting a Data Recovery Provider (from Ontrack)

PR Newswire
June 17, 2004 Thursday
CBL Data Recovery Technologies selected by Warranty Corporation of
America to deliver innovative recovery program

"ARMONK, NY/SAN DIEGO, CA, June 17 /PRNewswire/ - CBL Data Recovery
Technologies Inc. (, a leading international provider
of computer data recovery services, has been selected by Warranty
Corporation of America (WaCA) to help deliver a new data recovery
"The WaCA Data Recovery Program is designed to provide peace of mind
for our customers, in knowing that we can help them recover data from
damaged disk drives, regardless of the reason behind the damage," says
Bill York, WaCA's Executive Vice President, Product Planning. "By
partnering with CBL Data Recovery Technologies, we are able to
leverage its long history of focusing solely on data recovery."
Regardless of the nature of data loss - human error, virus activity or
natural disasters - WaCA customers will be able to send the affected
media to their choice of state of the art facility worldwide, where it
will be immediately taken through a non-intrusive evaluation to
determine the causes of data loss."
CONTACT: Gary Hilson, Sacke & Associates Inc., (416) 493-5723, ext.




Computer Associates


Diagonal Security





Insight Consulting




Selway Moore







On External Hard Drives:

InfoWorld Daily News
January 7, 2005

"The Pocket Hard Drive's 5GB provides enough capacity to store all the
files I need to carry around, which means the next time I have to
sanitize the PC of one of my friends or relatives, I'll have the
needed software, including virus and spyware scanners, all in one
The drive has no apparent activity LED, but as soon as I began using
it, a central area on the top approximately the size of a quarter
began flashing. As I mentioned, there is an actual disk inside
spinning at 3,600rpm, and that flashing is a very visible warning that
abruptly moving the device could cause data loss."



What's the worst that could happen to your data?
Hal Glatzer
Dec 2001,289483,sid5_gci784378,00.html

On hackers

You've Been Hacked...Now What?
By DeQuendre Neeley

On user error

On viruses
PC World: January 2004,aid,114058,00.asp

?The most common effect of a virus infection, reported by 70 percent
of respondents, was rendering a PC unavailable to the user, the study
found. Sixty-nine percent of respondents said that viruses had cost
productivity, while 37 percent reported loss of data due to viruses.?


?Analysts said the number of attacks between January and June 2003
exceeded 70,000, which was about twice the rate for 2002.?

PC World,aid,112468,pg,3,00.asp

"83 percent of the survey group said they use an antivirus
application, only 73 percent update their definition files regularly.?

Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu
May 2003
2003 Global Security Survey

Tech Talk 10/03
On Windows Updates

ECT News Network: October 2003

BusinessWeek Online: May 26, 2003

Home User Security: Your First Defense 
by Sarah Granger


Additional Statistics and Figures:

Internet Fraud Complaint Center (IFCC)
April 2003

?Losses reported by victims totaled $54 million, versus $17 million
the year before, and complaints referred to law enforcement totaled
48,252, compared to 16,755 in 2001?

2003/2004 Trends and Predictions in Network Security

CERT/CC Statistics 1988-2003



Google Search Terms:

-"data loss" statistics
-"data loss" figures
-"causes of data loss"
-"computer security" AND "data loss"

Lexis Nexis Search
(same as above)
Subject: Re: Personal Computing Data Loss Statistics
From: legacye-ga on 26 May 2005 11:30 PDT
Statistics about Leading Causes of Data Loss

Despite technological advances in the reliability of magnetic storage
media, data loss continues to rise, making data recovery more
important than ever. On track engineers have identified three trends
that are leading to this increase in lost data.

Go here for the full breakdown

US.Data loss statistics

PC Statistics

6% of all PCs will suffer an episode of data loss in any given year.
Given the number of PCs used in US businesses in 1998, that translates
to approximately 4.6 million data loss episodes. At a conservative
estimate, data loss cost US businesses $11.8 billion in 1998. (The
Cost Of Lost Data, David M. Smith)
30% of all businesses that have a major fire go out of business within
a year. 70% fail within five years. (Home Office Computing Magazine)
31% of PC users have lost all of their files due to events beyond their control.
34% of companies fail to test their tape backups, and of those that
do, 77% have found tape back-up failures.
60% of companies that lose their data will shut down within 6 months
of the disaster.
93% of companies that lost their data center for 10 days or more due
to a disaster filed for bankruptcy within one year of the disaster.
50% of businesses that found themselves without data management for
this same time period filed for bankruptcy immediately. (National
Archives & Records Administration in Washington)
American business lost more than $7.6 billion as a result of viruses
during first six months of 1999. (Research by Computer Economics)
Companies that aren't able to resume operations within ten days (of a
disaster hit) are not likely to survive. (Strategic Research
Simple drive recovery can cost upwards of $7,500 and success is not guaranteed.


More data is being stored in smaller spaces. Today's hard drives store
500 times the data stored on the drives of a decade ago. Increasing
storage capacities amplify the impact of data loss, making mechanical
precision more critical.
Data has become more mission-critical. Hospital patient records. A
graduate school thesis. Personal finance and tax information. Payroll
records. Users today are storing more information electronically than
ever. The loss of mission critical data can have staggering financial,
legal and productivity ramifications on businesses and home users
Backup tools and techniques are not 100% reliable. Most computer users
rely on backups as their safety net in the event of data loss (a
recommended practice). Ontrack research indicates that 80 percent of
its data loss customers regularly back up their data, only to find
them less than adequate at the critical moment they need to restore
them. Backups assume that hardware and storage media are in working
order; that the data is not corrupted, and that your backup is recent
enough to provide full recovery. In reality, hardware and software do
fail and backups don't always contain current enough data.

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