6 Business data loss stories

Businesses like yours rely on data to make informed decisions and stay ahead of the competition. But what if you suddenly lose all your emails, documents, spreadsheets, presentations, databases, and other files? Would you be able to operate business as usual right away? Without a data backup and recovery plan, the answer is most likely no.

Your employees would probably be unable to do their jobs, which may disrupt your operations. You could lose potential sales or even permanently lose your clients to the competition. You may even be subject to penalties or jail time if you lose data that is protected by security and privacy regulations like HIPAA.

If you think data loss won’t happen to you, the following real-life business stories may make you reconsider that notion.

1. State Department

Data loss could happen unintentionally like when hardware or software malfunctions. Such was the case in 2014 when the State Department’s global database for issuing travel documents crashed because of system glitches. As a result, millions of people suffered from the extensive backlog in the processing of applications for US passports and visas.

2. Samsung

Natural disasters like earthquakes, flooding, and fire can lead to data loss. For example, in 2014, a major fire at Samsung’s South Korea data center wiped out much of the company’s data that was maintained there. Unfortunately, the company discovered that they did not have remote backups of the lost data, and so that data was lost for good.

The fire also resulted in a frustratingly long downtime incident that disrupted the connectivity of Samsung’s smartphones, tablets, Blu-ray players, and smart TVs. Devices that needed Samsung servers to work also became inoperable.

3. Pixar

Unintentional data loss could occur because of accidental data deletion. In 1998, one of Pixar’s animators mistakenly deleted a root folder in the company’s internal servers, causing the organization to lose two years’ worth of work on Toy Story 2. To add insult to injury, their backup system wasn’t working either.

Fortunately, Toy Story 2’s technical director, who was working from home to care for her newborn baby, had a backup on her home computer. This allowed Pixar to launch the film on its original release date.


Accidental data deletion happens more often than you might think. In 2017, GitLab’s system administrator mistakenly deleted a directory on the wrong server, wiping out 300 GB of live production data. As soon as the admin realized his mistake, he canceled the command but was only able to save 4.5 GB of data. What’s worse, the company’s five data backups failed to work as expected.

Ohio counties

Human error is often to blame for data loss. For example, in 2020, an IT company that services several counties in Ohio failed to create a data backup before transferring county data to a more secure system. As a result, those counties lost six months’ worth of mission-critical data.

Human error is often to blame for data loss.

County employees were only able to restore lost data that had physical hard copies, which they used to manually reenter data into their systems. Unfortunately, they couldn’t recover the data that existed only digitally.

Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center (HPMC)

In some cases, data loss happens due to hacking and malware. This was the case in 2016 when HPMC suffered a ransomware attack that prevented the hospital from accessing its email, network, and crucial patient data for a week. As a result, some patients had to be brought to other healthcare facilities, and the staff had to use telephones and fax machines to perform their tasks. Eventually, HPMC decided to pay a ransom of 40 Bitcoins in order to restore its operations.

Save your company from the ramifications of data loss by leveraging SpectrumWise’s business continuity planning service. After conducting an in-depth assessment of how your daily processes could be affected by a disaster, our specialists will provide a step-by-step guide to restoring normal operations. Schedule a consultation with us today.


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