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2016 Results: Self-Assessment Tool

self-assessment tool

Since Kroll Ontrack launched its free and anonymous Self-Assessment Tool in April 2015, almost 10,000 people have used the tool to gain valuable information about what to do when they are struck by a data loss.  And over those last couple of years, the tool has not only helped users by providing a fast and free of charge assessment of what might be the cause of their data loss, but also provided valuable statistical information.  After each quarter the Data Loss Index (DLI) in published, summarizing the results of the previous three months along with the reasons users’ selected for their data loss.

The most common symptom

The comparison of the findings of last year show that the two most common symptoms users claim in 2016 were:

  1. Undetected devices
  2. Dropped devices

Undetected media grew from 25 percent in Q1 to 27 percent and 29 percent in Q2 and Q3 respectively, ending the year with 36 percent.  That is an overall increase of more than 45 percent over the last year.  However the second place in the DLI ranking – dropped devices – remained consistent: although the numbers steadily declined from 10 percent in Q1 to 9 percent Q2 and 8 percent in Q3, this number spiked during the last quarter up to 13 percent. This results in an average value of 10% of dropped devices per month.

Based on the experiences of cleanroom and lab engineers at Kroll Ontrack, the problem of undetected media is very common.  It occurs when a media device can no longer be recognized.  The three most common reasons for undetected media are:

  1. The Read/Write head has a defect
  2. The controller, or an electronic part is broken
  3. The service area, the area on a hard disk which has all the necessary information about the disk, is corrupt.

What are the most affected devices?

Over the last four quarters, the most affected devices were external devices or laptops with percentages both ranging between 31 and 41 percent.  Flash devices had its ups and downs with 7 percent in Q1, 9 percent in Q2, 6 percent in Q3, and ending with almost 12 percent in the last quarter.  Servers came in third place over the year with almost 14 percent in Q1, 13 percent in Q2, 15 percent in Q3, and almost 10 percent in Q4 of 2016.

HDDs or SSDs?

The results show a huge gap between HDDs and SSDs as the main storage medium being used by the participants of the Self-Assessment Tool.  The results show that HDDs range from 76 percent in Q1, climbing up to 81 percent in Q3, and finally slightly declining to 78 percent in Q4. SSDs, however, declined slightly from almost 10 percent in Q1 to 8 percent in Q4.

Since these figures only show the distribution of storage media by the users of the Self-Assessment tool, to draw the conclusion that HDDs had far more failures than SSDs would be a mistake.  It’s more likely that since there are still more HDDs in use, the amount of failures is obviously much higher.

Fire and Water – Surprise, surprise…

One could have guessed that undetected devices and dropped devices were going to be the two most common results of 2016, but what came really as a surprise were the results of two other causes for worldwide device failure and data loss – fire and liquid damage. During 2016, up to 99 respondents reported experiencing data loss due to fire.  Interestingly, the majority of these events (76) occurred during the first six months of the year, with numbers declining later in the year (only 7 incidents took place between October and December).

Liquid damage was also a popular cause of data loss – consider the scenario of dropping your smartphone in the toilet, bathtub, or ocean.  More than 300 respondents suffered data loss as a result of liquid damage in 2016. For comparison, data loss caused by viruses accounted for 171 total entries in the Self-Assessment Tool.

Self-Assessment tool helps users and data recovery experts

Kroll Ontrack´s self-assessment tool allows users to quickly and easily understand what they can do next if they fall victim to a faulty device.  Equally as important, and often more so, it tells them what they should NOT do, potentially saving a device from complete ruin.  Additionally, the data recovery experts can use this information and insight to better adapt their services to the real data recovery demand in the market.

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