15 March 2016

Planning to move your data? Beware the risks of data loss

Planned data migrations and operating system upgrades pose their own set of data loss threats

Epsom, 15th March 2016 – Kroll Ontrack, the data recovery and ediscovery services leader, warns that a third (32%) of organisations lose data while migrating between devices or upgrading operating systems. In a global survey1 of nearly 600 IT administrators, Kroll Ontrack also found that while over half (57%) of respondents had a backup solution in place, three quarters (75%) were not able to restore all of their lost data, with more than one-in-five (23%) unable to recover any data at all.

The results of this year’s survey are consistent with research undertaken in the previous three years, where over half of consumers/businesses reported data loss even when backups are made. Specific to data loss experienced while migrating or upgrading operating systems, respondents in 2016 cite that the backup was not current (17%) or it was not operating correctly at the time of data loss (15%), the device was not included in the backup (14%), or the backup media itself was corrupted (11%).

Operating systems or hardware: what’s riskiest?

The problem of data loss occurs as regularly on standalone devices as on servers, highlighting the fact that this is a challenge for individual users as well as businesses. In fact half (50%) of respondents said they had lost data when migrating to new software or platforms from a desktop or laptop. The riskiest upgrades in these cases were upgrading operating systems (39%), reimaging desktop hardware (22%), physically migrating hardware (20%), or upgrading the hardware (17%).

Data loss appears to be less of a problem for mobile users, but still affected more than a third (34%) of respondents. Despite the automated update processes available when upgrading mobiles, 53% of respondents said that they lost data when migrating users to a new mobile device.

How do Brits compare in terms of data loss?

In the UK, 26% of IT administrators said that they had experienced data loss when migrating to new software or platforms from a server, but this rose to 48% when migrating from a desktop or laptop and 50% when migrating from mobile devices. Of those who had lost data, 26% said they had backup in place but it wasn’t operating properly at the time, while 11% said the device in question wasn’t included in the backup.

A global view of the risks that lie ahead

Interestingly, in looking ahead to what respondents believe will be the major causes of corporate data loss in the next 12 months, global respondents rank migration and upgrading systems low on the scale of concern, even though our research reveals one-third of respondents had lost data during such exercises. Instead, respondents believe that hardware failure (22%), user error (22%) and unforeseen and unexpected errors (21%) as the top-ranking risks to corporate data loss. Only 11% believe that poor internal controls and data governance will be a top three risk, despite the fact that so many backup systems fail and mean that data cannot be restored.

In the next 12 months, what do you believe is the top risk to corporate data loss?

Hardware failure


User error e.g. deleting data by accident


Unforeseen and unexpected errors


Poor internal controls and data governance


The move to cloud-based storage


Upgrades to critical customer-facing applications


The move to mobile devices for employees


The move to virtual drives


The move to Microsoft Office 365


Robin England, Senior Research & Development Engineer, Kroll Ontrack UK said: “Upgrades and data migration are part of the day-to-day IT workload, so it is alarming to see that so many organisations are experiencing data loss because their backups fail for whatever reason. The fact is that upgrades and migration processes are equally risky whether they are being undertaken for mobiles, laptops, PCs or servers and whether they involve hardware or the operating system. Organisations need to ensure that they have a rigorous backup strategy in place. While they should check their capability to restore frequently, it’s especially important before a migration.”

For more information on data recovery, please visit Kroll Ontrack.

¹On February 2016 Kroll Ontrack surveyed 572 Ontrack Data Recovery customers across North America, Europe and Asia Pacific.

About Kroll Ontrack

Kroll Ontrack provides technology-driven services and software to help legal, corporate and government entities as well as consumers manage, recover, search, analyse, and produce data efficiently and cost-effectively. In addition to its award-winning suite of software, Kroll Ontrack provides data recovery, data destruction, electronic discovery and document review services. For more information about Kroll Ontrack and its offerings please visit: Krollontrack.co.uk follow @KrollOntrackUK on Twitter or subscribe to the Kroll Ontrack Data Blog.

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