The True Cost of Lost — or Nearly Lost — Data

If you’ve ever had a device crash, taking all your data with it, you know how painful the experience can be. When that happens on a large scale, the effects can be devastating. Data loss costs the average business $586,000 a year, and that doesn't address the personal, emotional and cultural costs of losing everything from financial data to great works of art. The worst part? It can easily be avoided.

Here are four real-world examples of data that was lost — or nearly lost — but could have been saved with a simple, foolproof backup plan.

1. NASA & the Apollo 11 Moon Landing

It’s not just digital data that can be lost. Even analog tapes are subject to loss, theft or accidental destruction through any number of natural or human causes. In one dramatic example, the original tapes depicting the first lunar landing were accidentally erased along with a batch of 200,000 other tapes set to be reused to save money. Luckily, using broadcast footage and other sources, NASA was able to recreate the original tape. Backing up analog materials in multiple digital formats is an important, but often overlooked, step.

2. Pixar & "Toy Story 2"

In 1998, a huge chunk of the film "Toy Story 2" was nearly lost forever because of an erroneous command that started deleting the animations. Luckily, a designer noticed that files were being deleted and “pulled the plug,” so to speak. After intense efforts, Pixar employees were able to restore the lost files. This story, like the movie, has a happy ending, but that's not the case with every backup disaster. 

3. The Library of Congress & Silent Films 

Seventy-five percent of the roughly 11,000 silent films ever produced are lost forever. The Library of Congress released these findings late last year, demonstrating that data loss is an issue that has plagued society since we were able to record data in a meaningful way. Today, backup products and services can prevent these types of disasters — but only if we take the time to protect our data.

4. T-Mobile & Sidekick

Finally, a more recent example: T-Mobile was in the news in 2009 when Danger, the manufacturer of T-Mobile's Sidekick phone, experienced a major server crash. As a result, a significant amount of Sidekick users' personal data that was stored in the cloud disappeared from their phones for good, including contacts, photos, calendars and to-do lists. This embarrassing snafu was a great reminder for T-Mobile and all observers of the importance of backing up all data. 

What are some of the worst data disasters you’ve heard about or witnessed?

[Image via CanStock]

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