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Matthew MisterMar 4, 2019 3:34:43 PM5 min read

Common Causes Of Data Loss & Prevention Tips

It’s never fun to lose something, especially when that something is central to your business. Imagine being on set for several long days capturing footage, you come back to start editing and everything is gone!

Anyone who has experienced that first hand will tell you that they had a mild heart attack when they first realized their data was gone.

So, what are the common causes of data loss? How do you prevent it? In the event you fall victim to data loss, how do you deal with it?

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What causes data loss?

Data loss can typically be traced back to two main causes:

  • Hardware failure
  • User error
  • File System Corruption 

Hardware Failure:

With all technology, there is going to come that moment when the hardware finally gives out on you. There’s really not much you can do about it. But you can make some simple fixes such as purchasing some RAID drives and redundant hardware to protect yourself from the next hardware failure. Buying this hardware is a great first step that most people get right but thinking that this is enough is a terrible flaw.

User Error:

We all know what they say about assumptions…. In the world of media management these assumptions can be as simple as believing that your media is automatically being backed up, or that the backups you have are current. In these situations, it can be easy to become complacent with the idea that,

“Because it hasn’t happened to us yet, we are safe.”

That is the type of thinking that gets you in trouble, because even if it hasn’t happened to you yet, data loss is always just one unlucky moment away.


File System Corruption:

Anytime you are dealing with files, there is always the chance that they can become corrupt, that is no fault on the user, you can’t predict a system failure. These types of failures can be caused by anything from that impacts the data at the file system level. However, if the proper precautions had been taken before hand, dealing with this corruption can be less of a nightmare.

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What to do when you experience data loss?

Your data is gone! Now what do you do?

  • Stop what you are doing! While your files may be missing at this moment, there is still a chance they can be recovered. However, if you keep digging around for a solution you may cause more harm then good and those files may be lost forever.
  • Take an inventory: Write down what is missing so you have a reference of how much data was lost and which files are gone.
  • Check for a backup on other devices: There is a chance that you may have another copy of your files on another drive, workstation or memory card laying around. If so, you dodged a bullet but also got a good scare out of the situation.
  • Talk to a media management professional: Your IT team may be able to help you out in this situation or you may need to reach out to a data recovery professional to help you out.

Are you swamped in duplicate files? Learn how to prevent Digital Hoarding

How do you prevent data loss?

Data loss can occur at anytime without warning, even the best hardware out there can’t completely protect you from it. You may think that installing RAID drives will be enough to protect you, but that only keeps you safe if you experience a hardware failure.

A real-life example of this would be storing a 55-gallon drum of water in preparation for a disaster. In this example the drum is your RAID drive and the water inside is your data. The barrel provides a safe place for you to hold the water but what if the water inside has already been contaminated with bacteria before you stored it? When disaster strikes, the barrel is still intact but you can’t drink the water because it will make you sick, leaving you in the same situation as if you hadn’t prepped at all!

Around here, the mantra around data protection is:

“Two is one, and one is none!’

What we mean is that if you don’t have two copies of your working data, you’re doing it wrong and just waiting for disaster to strike.

Here are two ways you can prep your data to prevent data loss:

  • Mirror your data: By setting up a mirror you can immediately duplicate data between a source and destination space. This is ideal for a hardware backup but has the downside of also mirroring over file system problems or a virus. Setting up a mirror is a great option if you are attaching an external drive, RAID or server to your storage system. In the event that the primary source goes down, you can recover the mirrored files on the secondary source. However, the drawback is that if you delete a file or if a file corrupts, that action will be replicated in the secondary space as well.
  • Copy your data: Creating copies of your data is your best option for protecting your media files from data loss and also gives you the most flexibility. In the simplest situation you can just migrate data to another storage space or external drive giving you a physical copy of your media you can fall back on if you lose your primary storage space. Another option it gives you is to set up a reoccurring copy. By creating these copies, you can ensure that any changes you make are saved when the copy is set to run. The only drawback is that over time you will have to go in occasionally and clean up your destination source to make sure that older copies are cleared out.

The best data protection strategy is to use a mixed approach of mirroring and copying your data, this way your data is covered from both hardware and file system failures.

Another effective way to help prevent data loss is to educate your team on the causes of data loss and how best to handle them when it occurs. Being prepared is extremely important because the way your team reacts can determine whether or not your data is salvageable. By educating your team you can also begin to establish a backup system that will provide a safety net for your team in the event of a hardware or system error.

Data loss is scary to think about, but if you prepare ahead of time, the words data loss can have more bark than bite.

Want to learn more about Media Management? Learn how to simplify your media workflow here!