Kroll Ontrack Research: One-Third of Companies Experience Data Loss When Moving Data

Planned data migrations and operating system upgrades pose unique data loss threats

MINNEAPOLIS--()--Kroll Ontrack found that one-third (32 percent) of organizations have lost data while migrating between devices or upgrading operating systems, according to a global survey1 of nearly 600 IT administrators. Kroll Ontrack also found that while over half (57 percent) of respondents had a backup solution in place, three quarters (75 percent) were not able to restore all of their lost data, with more than one-in-five (23 percent) unable to recover any data at all.

The results of this year’s survey are consistent with research from the past three years, where over half of consumers and businesses reported data loss even when a backup system was in place. When asked specifically about data loss experienced while migrating or upgrading operating systems, respondents with a backup in place cited that the backup was not current (17 percent) or was not operating correctly (15 percent) at the time of data loss, the device was not included in the backup (14 percent), or the backup media itself was corrupted (11 percent).

“Upgrades and data migration are part of the day-to-day IT workload, so it is distressing to see that so many organizations are experiencing often preventable data loss because their backup protocols fail,” said Todd Johnson, vice president, data and storage technologies, Kroll Ontrack. “What we found is that upgrades and migration processes are equally risky whether undertaken for mobile devices, laptops, PCs or servers – and whether they involve hardware or the operating system. Certainly organizations need to ensure that they have a rigorous backup strategy in place and consistently test and validate its effectiveness, but our research shows that these practices are all the more critical before a migration.”

Operating systems or hardware: what’s riskiest?

The problem of data loss occurs as frequently on standalone devices as it does on servers, highlighting the fact that this is a challenge for individual users as well as businesses. Half (50 percent) of respondents said they lost data when migrating to new software or platforms from a desktop or laptop. The riskiest upgrades in these cases were upgrading operating systems (39 percent), reimaging desktop hardware (22 percent), physically migrating hardware (20 percent) or upgrading the hardware (17 percent).

The findings indicate data loss to be less of a problem for mobile users, but still affected more than one-third (34 percent) of respondents. Despite the automated update processes available when upgrading mobile devices, 53 percent of respondents said they lost data when migrating to a new mobile device.

A global view of the risks that lie ahead

In looking ahead to what respondents believe will be the major causes of corporate data loss in the next 12 months, global respondents rank migration and upgrading systems low on the scale of concern, even though the research revealed one-third of respondents had lost data during such exercises. Instead, respondents rank hardware failure (22 percent), user error (22 percent) and unforeseen and unexpected errors (21 percent) as the top risks to corporate data loss. Only 11 percent believe that poor internal controls and data governance will be a top risk, despite that having unclear policies or poorly defined backup protocols can lead to human error or complacency, and subsequent data loss.


In the next 12 months, what do you believe is the top risk to corporate data loss?

Hardware failure     22%
User error (e.g. deleting data by accident)     22%
Unforeseen and unexpected errors     21%
Poor internal controls and data governance     11%
The move to cloud-based storage     7%
Upgrades to critical customer-facing applications     5%
The move to mobile devices for employees     5%
The move to virtual drives     4%
The move to Microsoft Office 365     3%

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¹ February 2016 survey of 572 Kroll Ontrack data recovery customers across North America, Europe and Asia Pacific

About Kroll Ontrack LLC
Kroll Ontrack provides technology-driven services and solutions to help legal, corporate and government entities as well as consumers manage, recover, search, analyze, review and produce data efficiently and cost-effectively. In addition to its award-winning suite of software, Kroll Ontrack provides data recovery, data destruction, electronic discovery, consulting and document review. For more information about Kroll Ontrack and its offerings please visit: or follow @KrollOntrack on Twitter.


Kroll Ontrack LLC
Media Contact:
Kristin Husom, 952-516-3781

Release Summary

Kroll Ontrack found that one-third of organizations have lost data while migrating between devices or upgrading operating systems, according to a global survey of nearly 600 IT administrators.


Kroll Ontrack LLC
Media Contact:
Kristin Husom, 952-516-3781