According to a recent global survey on the causes of data loss, Kroll Ontrack®, the leading provider of information management, data recovery, and legal technology products and services, found 40 percent of home, business, government and channel users of information technology believe human error is the leading cause of data loss, up from 11 percent 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 percent of respondents believed that human error was a leading cause, even though only 27 percent said they could actually attribute a recent loss to human error. A further 29 percent identified hardware/system failure as the cause of their most recent data loss, which was reported as the cause of data loss by 56 percent of respondents in a similar survey in 2005. Despite the reported decline in hardware/system failures, 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 percent of recent data loss incidents, compared to 4 percent in 2005. Similarly, natural disasters were responsible for 3 percent of incidents in 2010, versus 2 percent 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 Todd Johnson, vice president of Ontrack Data Recovery operations, 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 percent of those surveyed have lost information, 18 percent “did not know” how their data loss occurred. This demonstrates an urgent need to educate business 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 61 percent of those we surveyed,” said Jeff Pederson, manager of Ontrack Data Recovery operations, Kroll Ontrack. “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 globe and around the clock to remedy virtually any data loss. With unmatched experts in performing any type of recovery, Kroll Ontrack can prioritize 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.”