Causes of Data Loss and Some Statistics

Causes of data loss and statistics

Nearly one of two people (46%) lose data every year according to a study of Backblaze customers. Shocking? It surprised me at first glance, but then I dug in deeper.

Drive Failures

According to a Google study of hard drive failures, disk drives over a year old have about a one in 10 chance of failure each year. At this rate one of every two drives will fail every five years. A person that has a hard drive in their computer and an external drive for that period is nearly guaranteed to have one die.

Computer Theft and Computer Loss

15% of households annually experience burglary or theft according to the Bureau of Justice. While statistics are not available for what was stolen, when a home is burglarized, a computer is a likely target. According to the Ponemon Institute, 637,000 laptops are lost at airports across the country every year. How many more in taxi cabs, coffee shops, and at vacation destinations?

Viruses and Software Corruption

Various surveys across the web have shown that viruses cause 4-7% of all data loss. Add software corruption to the mix, boot sector issues, registry issues, etc., and this starts becoming significant.

Flooding, Fire, Earthquakes, and Other Disasters

According to FEMA, about one in 10 households that have flood insurance suffer a loss each year due to flood damage. Half a million buildings catch fire every year based on USFA statistics. Nearly 200 earthquakes with a magnitude of 6.0 or greater occur worldwide annually according to the USGS. Computers are sensitive devices and don’t like to be wet, hot, or shaken.

Human Error

“Oops” is the second most common cause of data loss (after hardware failure) according to data recovery specialist Ontrack. Is the delete key too big on the keyboard? Blame it on that… but all of us have done it and wished there there were an undo key that was just as big.

Losing data doesn’t always mean a hard drive crash. Sometimes it just means we deleted a folder (with our kids’ photos) or our dog knocked over an external drive (with our music library). Whatever the cause, based on the actual needs of our customers, the various causes of data loss compile to require one of every two customers to restore data each year.


About Gleb Budman

Gleb Budman is a co-founder and has served as our chief executive officer since 2007, guiding the business from its inception in a Palo Alto apartment to a company serving customers in more than 175 countries with over an exabyte of data under management. Gleb has served as a member of our board of directors since 2009 and as chairperson since January 2021. Prior to Backblaze, Gleb was the senior director of product management at SonicWall and the vice president of products at MailFrontier, which was acquired by SonicWall. Before that, he served in a senior position at Kendara, which was acquired by Excite@Home, and previously founded and successfully exited two other startup companies.