Human Error Blamed For Rising Data Loss

Data StorageSecurityStorage

Human error is increasingly the cause of enterprise data disasters, as lack of resources and increasing complexity takes its toll

A data recovery specialist has warned that the human element is behind the rising number of data losses with corporate enterprises, and has outlined some of the most common mistakes being made.

However the experts at Kroll Ontrack are blaming the rising number of human mistakes on the increasingly complex storage systems, as well as depleted resources in the current economic climate.

Last month Kroll noted a massive rise in data loss incidents since the recession began. Back then it said that this mirrored a trend last seen in the previous recession. However the surge was blamed on cost-cutting exercises, such as shrinking IT departments and budgets. The result, said Kroll, was that companies were cutting corners and human error was causing prolific data loss.

Now Kroll Ontrack has compiled a list of the top human mistakes that are being made. These include:

  • Pulling the wrong drive – while trying to replace a failed disk in a RAID array, a healthy disk is removed by accident
  • Reformatting a disk – during a server migration, the wrong SAN LUN is reformatted
  • Restoring corrupt/redundant backup data – a server containing a business-critical database is deleted by mistake and is restored with a corrupt or incomplete backup, prior to realising the backup is not sound
  • Rebuilding a bad array – following a multiple drive failure in a RAID array, an attempt to force the failed drives back online and rebuild the configuration is made – damaging or corrupting the data on the array
  • Deleting data – files, volumes, virtual machines or a SAN LUN is deleted by accident and there is no backup or the backup is redundant or corrupt.

“While advanced storage options such as virtualisation and cloud computing offer corporations storage optimisation, human processes are still at the root of these solutions, instructing the technology as to how to perform,” said Phil Bridge, managing director at Kroll Ontrack UK. “The complexity of these systems often requires a steep learning curve. With reported IT spending at a low, human error is increasingly common.”

Kroll also cited the following real examples of human error cases it has encountered:

  • A support engineer forgot to turn off his replication software before formatting the volumes on the primary site. Unfortunately, this mistake resulted in overwriting the backup.
  • An organisation using a 10 drive RAID 5 array suffered a drive failure that went unnoticed for three months. When a second drive died, the server crashed, rendering all data unavailable.
  • An organisation ran a script by accident during a test project that deleted all 38 virtual machines from two arrays.
  • A company leasing cloud computers accidentally detached a “virtual” storage volume in the cloud environment – similar to pulling a cable from an operational volume. When it was reconnected, Windows reported the volume as unallocated space, so the volume could not be mounted.


Author: Tom Jowitt
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