11 February 2016

The case of the disappearing storage device: Kroll Ontrack’s quarterly Data Loss Index reveals main cause of device failure is ‘undetected drives’

Epsom, 11th February, 2016: Kroll Ontrack today launches its second quarterly data loss index (DLI) which reveals that more than one in five (21 per cent) data loss scenarios are due to storage devices appearing to be unrecognisable or undetected1. More than one in ten (11 per cent) experience data loss from corrupted files, nine per cent lose data because of an operating system (OS) failure, eight per cent through accidental deletion and another eight per cent through liquid damage.

Failure Causes

Liquid damage rises to more than one in five (22 per cent) cases of data loss for mobile devices, still the leading cause of data loss for smartphones and tablets albeit a significant reduction from last quarter’s index where liquids were the main culprit for 44% of the losses in mobiles. This is different to the other devices in the index (laptops, external drives, servers and tapes) for which the majority of data loss scenarios are due to unrecognisable or undetected devices.

Top five causes of data loss for Windows and Mac devices

  Windows   Mac
1 Undetected or unrecognisable drive 1 Undetected or unrecognisable drive
2 Corrupted device 2 Device not powering up
3 Noise related error 3 Operating system error
4 Device dropped 4 Liquid damage
5 Files accidentally deleted 5 Corrupted device

The index covers 1,036 individual disk assessments from 40 countries as far afield as Iceland, Croatia and Iran between October and December 2015 and is developed from the analysis of anonymous data collected through Kroll Ontrack’s data recovery self-assessment tool. Originally launched in the UK, Kroll Ontrack DR SAT is now available in France and Italy and will be made available in Germany and Spain in the next few months.


  • United Kingdom - 79%
  • United States - 3%
  • Germany - 5%
  • Italy - 2%
  • Netherlands - 2%
  • Other - 9%

Kroll Ontrack advises that those who face any type of data loss situation, whether it is through spilling liquid on their laptop or accidental deletions, take a step back and consider the options and information available to them before acting.

Paul Le Messurier, Programme and Operations Manager at Kroll Ontrack said: “Accidents can happen to anybody, at any time, and no device is fool-proof. The worst thing individuals or businesses can do is panic when they spill coffee on their laptop or can’t locate a missing drive. The next worst thing they can do is take remedial action themselves: attempts to retrieve data from a faulty device could lead to further data loss, an undetected device and warranty voidance.

“We would always advise users faced with unexpected data loss scenarios to seek guidance from the experts before even thinking about repairing a device as inexperienced attempts may cause further damages, in some cases even making the loss permanently irretrievable.”

Kroll Ontrack’s DLI also highlights that around half (46 per cent) devices that have suffered data loss are laptops and almost a quarter (32 per cent) of data loss situations occur with users of flash and external drives. While a similar number of laptop users (48%) experienced problems with data loss in the previous quarter, the number of flash and external drive users has grown significantly from 23% to 32%, highlighting the challenges of using these technologies. Only 2% of data loss scenarios feature tape, the relatively safe haven of the data storage world.

Device Type

  • Server - 3.4%
  • Mobile - 16.4%
  • Laptop - 46.5%
  • External drive - 25.6%
  • Flash - 6.1%
  • Tape - 1.9%

Kroll Ontrack’s unique self-assessment tool helps individuals carry out an initial check on their device and receive first line advice on what to do next. Scenarios cover damage caused by fire, liquid, physical knocks and malware/virus infection. Following this initial assessment, users can choose whether or not to go ahead with Kroll Ontrack’s data recovery service.

Notes to Editors

1 Analysis based on results of 1,036 users of the Data Recovery Self-Assessment tool from 40 countries

About Kroll Ontrack Ltd.

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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Media Contacts:

Judith Massey: Judith.Massey@citigatedr.co.uk
Emma Castle: emma.castle@citigatedr.co.uk
+44 (0) 207 282 2987/2993