15+ Scary Data Loss Statistics to Keep in Mind in 2023

Updated · May 20, 2023

Did you know that the zettabyte didn’t exist before 2012, when this amount of data was first reached?

Now, there are more than 40 zettabytes or 40 trillion gigabytes of data out in the world. And by loading this page, you have just created more.

Not only that, but more and more companies are backing up their files, creating business continuity plans, organizing incident response teams, and investing a significant amount of money and time in data protection.

But why do they do that?

With this dizzying amount of data comes great responsibility. Knowing the data loss statistics can help you understand the problem and take measures to prevent it.

But before we dive deeper into the topic, we at HostingTribunal have prepared our top picks to give you a sense of the gravity of the issue.

Editor’s choice: The Most Intriguing Data Loss Stats 

  • 40-60% of small businesses won’t reopen after data loss.
  • The annualized failure rate of hard drives for the third quarter of 2020 was 0.89%.
  • Small businesses are set back $8,000 for an hour of downtime.
  • The average cost of downtime for large enterprises is more than $11,600 per minute.
  • Data loss stats show that the average cost of downtime for companies of all sizes is almost $4,500/minute.
  • Detecting breaches takes around 206 days.
  • The average cost of compromised data in 2020 was $3.86 million.
  • 2,013 data breaches occurred in 2019 alone.
  • In 40% of the cases, the reason for data loss is a hardware failure.
  • Human error is the cаuse of information loss in 29% of cases.

Data Loss Statistics 2022

Both companies and individuals should prepare for disastrous scenarios. Sometimes failure is inevitable, so you should always expect the unexpected.

Next, we’ll show you how often hard drives fail, we’ll tell you about the most notable recent data breaches and other interesting stats.

1. Data will expand to 175 zettabytes by 2025.

(Source: IDC)

This is an incredible growth compared to the 40 zettabytes available in 2019. But with larger amounts of information increase the possibilities of data corruption. 

Data loss happens all the time to everyone. The most common reasons are hardware failure, human error, physical damage, poor handling, or inadequate equipment storage. But let's break down these data loss examples to understand them better.

2. Human error is the number one reason for data loss in organizations.

(Source: Netwrix Research)

Some of the most common causes of data loss organizations are experiencing are human error, hardware failure, and software failure. But human error is in the lead with 50%.

People damage equipment and delete information, accidentally or not, all the time.

Whether it’s for personal or professional use, you certainly know someone who dropped their phone or laptop. Ooops, this will cost time and money.

Employee mistakes and hardware failure aren’t to be found only in small business data breach statistics either, but more on that later.

3. Hardware failure is the reason for data loss in organizations in 35% of the cases.

(Source: Netwrix Research)

We don’t have to be computer statistic enthusiasts to recognize why businesses backup their files. Even though data loss incidents happen all the time, there are plenty of financial and security reasons for doing a backup.

Companies can’t afford to miss out on revenue because of data loss. That’s why it’s not surprising that business continuity statistics show the majority have prevention strategies in place.

4. In the third quarter of 2020, the annualized failure rate of Backblaze’s hard drives was 0.89%.

(Source: Backblaze)

This number may not seem like a lot, but in case of a hard drive crash, a backup is the only thing that can save you.

According to Backblaze, 324 out of their 150,757 hard drives failed in just three months. Such incidents happen all the time, so it’s better to play it safe and secure your device.

The reasons for lost information are numerous; compromised and corrupted data is a small but significant part of that list.

5. Studies confirmed 2,013 data breaches in 2019.

(Source: Verizon)

According to Verizon, 52% of compromised data is a result of hacking and 69% of attacks are performed by outsiders. Small businesses are most vulnerable, being the victim in 43% of the cases. But what is a data breach exactly?

The term can be used to describe unauthorized access to information resulting from hacking or unintentional leakage of information. But most of the time, data leaks under suspicious conditions.

6. From 2005 to the first half of 2020, the number of breaches in the US alone was 1,632.

(Source: Statista)

The year 2017 holds the record for data security breaches with 1,632 cases, while the number of exposed records peaked in 2018, reaching 471.23 million.

In 2016, Yahoo revealed the biggest case of compromised data at the time. They declared that the amount of stolen information can be linked to at least 1 billion accounts. As it turned out later, the affected accounts were actually around 3 billion.

Looking at data breach statistics by year can be fun and we can even learn a few lessons from the past.

But what about today?

When did the latest incident of this kind happen? 

7. In 2020, the Dutch government lost the data of 6.9 million registered organ donors.

(Source: ZDNet, Bleeping Computer, TimesLIVE)

One of the latest data breaches occurred at the beginning of 2020 due to human error causing the loss of two external hard disks. They contained the personal information of nearly 7 million registered organ donors.

Another case of compromised data identified later that year was a cybersecurity breach in GoDaddy—the largest domain and web hosting company in the world. The incident happened in October 2019 and afflicted around 28,000 customers.

One more recent data breach made it to our list. The Postbank from South Africa had to change almost 12 million bank cards after employees stole classified information. 

Quite frightening, right? Are you thinking about changing your passwords?

We can only hope that a security breach in 2022 will be a more rare phenomenon.

Average Cost of Data Recovery 

A major challenge with breaches is not only containing them but detecting they happened in the first place.

The harsh truth is that every second of downtime costs. A lot. The expenses are enormous, especially for small and medium-sized businesses. According to data breach statistics, some companies might even never reopen after losing their information.

The following stats will reveal the actual cost of data loss.

8. Companies need 206 days on average to detect a data breach. 

(Source: IBM)

With approximately 206 days to realize the incident has happened and 73 days more to fix the problem, such issues can last around 279 days. Data breach statistics show us that every day matters—companies that identify and contain the problem within the first 200 days spend $1.2 million less than the average cost in similar situations.

Those numbers are especially large for small and medium-sized companies. Let’s take a closer look: 

9. The total cost of a data breach in 2020 was $3.86 million on average.

(Source: IBM)

Nobody can be fully prepared to be the victim of a hacking attack, but a fast reaction is a critical factor that can reduce costs in case of a disaster. Here’s where data recovery facts can offer some precious tips about preserving essential information along with saving money. 

IBM reports that companies with incident response teams tested IR plans can save up to $2 million from the total cost of breaches.

Data loss stats can also give us insightful info about downtime costs for companies of different sizes. 

10. The average cost of downtime across companies of all sizes is nearly $4,500 per minute.

(Source: Datto)

Disaster recovery facts show that nobody’s immune—90% of companies have experienced technical issues leading to downtime at some point.

But this isn’t so horrifying as it may seem. Thanks to disaster recovery software, companies can continue working. Yet, some consequences, such as the data and revenue loss, remain.

Let’s take a look at how large companies handle such situations. 

11. For large enterprises, the average cost of downtime amounts to more than $11,600 per minute. 

(Source: Datto)

Big companies are set back $700,000 for an hour of downtime, which is more than $11,600 per minute. This amounts to almost $200 for each lost second of operational availability! The cost of data loss is not negligible.

The strength of a company can be seen in the way it handles disasters. This is why large enterprises spare no expense for a data recovery plan. 

But small businesses are actually at the greatest risk. 

12. One hour of downtime can cost a small business approximately $8,000.

(Source: Datto)

Data loss stats show that small companies pay around $133 per minute of downtime. For many businesses, this is a significant amount of money.

A full recovery from disastrous scenarios can take some time. Companies need 18.5h on average to get back on track. Unfortunately, 43% of companies never manage to pick up where they left off.  

Here’s another alarming stat:

13. Around 40-60% of small businesses will never reopen after data loss.

(Source: FEMA)

Disaster recovery statistics warn about the potential risk for small businesses. But why are they so affected by data loss?

Part of the problem is rooted in the fact that 20% of organizations don’t maintain their continuity plan.

In contrast, big enterprises are much more prepared—20% of them reserve around ten days per month to work on their contingency strategy.

This means that small business data recovery might be improved by working on business continuity plans. 

Better safe than sorry!

In the following chapter, you’ll find some of the most recent data breaches, as well as some prevention methods. After all, this is why we created this list of data loss statistics—to keep you safe and up-to-date with the latest trends. 

14. Sales intelligence company Apollo experienced the biggest data breach in history, exposing more than 9 billion records.

(Source: Statista) 

Some of the biggest data breaches of all time involve the companies Apollo, People Data Labs, and Yahoo. Billions of records were stolen. 

Apollo, the sales intelligence company, experienced a security attack back in 2018. This exposed the largest number of data points in history—9 billion records.

People Data Labs and Yahoo share second place in this data loss statistics list. People Data Labs lost 3 billion records, including billions of email addresses and millions of phone numbers.

In 2016, Yahoo revealed that information associated with more than 3 billion accounts was compromised—the most significant incident of this kind the company has ever experienced. 

All this information sounds frightening, so how to prevent data loss?

15. 91% of organizations back up their databases.

(Source: Statista)

Backup statistics show that organizations might have different priorities, but what most of them have in common is that they secure their files regularly.

This is the first line of defense and the fundamental way for preventing data loss. To be safe, you have to store a copy offsite and encrypt sensitive information.

Besides databases, 68% of organizations protect their email, while only 16% back up SaaS data.

(Source: Interpol)

Member countries listed the usage of COVID-19 themes as a big threat to security. Around 59% of respondents stated phishing, scams, and fraud related to COVID-19 as the most common cause of their cybersecurity breach.

This often includes themed emails offering vaccines against or essential information about the Coronavirus. Fake payment requests are quite common too.

Disruptive malware (ransomware and DDoS) takes second place with 36%, according to data loss statistics. This can result in losing important information and experiencing operation failures.

Companies should protect themselves the best they can, as the pandemic caused a lot of fear and instability which cybercriminals abuse.

No organization is immune to this threat.

17. 26% of companies experienced a data breach in 2020. 

(Source: Thales Group)

Data loss statistics reported that 49% of organizations involved in the worldwide study from 2020 had experienced a breach at some point and more than one-quarter—during the previous year.

What data breach statistics show us is that the threat is real and can hit any business. This is why planning and investing in protection software is becoming more and more important.

Wrap Up

Now that we’re at the very end let’s go over the key points again. We started with general data loss examples, which showed you the importance of reliable backups. We ended with the chances of being a victim of a breach and the newest cybercriminal attacks you should be on the lookout for.

Who’d have guessed that there’s so much data about data?

What we can learn from all these data loss statistics is that the amount of information will snowball over the years and that cybersecurity is critical for preserving a business. Staying informed is the first step toward being prepared and protected. And data loss prevention is an investment in the future.

Branko Krstic
Branko Krstic

Branko is a round-the-clock tech geek and loving it. His ideal vacation destination is the Akihabara District (or really any place he can take his computer). If there’s a server out there, count on him to find out what it’s made of… and tell you all about it.