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40% of Companies Lose Data Annually from Virtual Environments

8% of companies believe that storing data in a virtual environment decreases or simply does not impact their organisation's chance of data loss.

Yet, 40% of companies leveraging virtual storage experienced a data loss from those environments in the last year.

This survey, conducted by Kroll Ontrack, provided insight into virtual environment data loss frequency and recovery management.

Key findings indicate that 84% of corporations are leveraging virtualisation for storage, and nearly one-third of respondents have 75-100% of their current environment stored in a virtualised environment. Of those that store data in a virtual environment, 40% experienced at least one data loss event in the past 12 months - down from 65% in 2011. Interestingly, 52% of corporations actually believe virtualisation software decreases the chance of data loss.

It is a common misconception that virtual environments are inherently safer than, or at less risk from data loss, than other storage media. Although virtual servers have redundancies built-in, increased complexity generally means more potential causes of data loss, including file system corruption, deleted VMs, internal virtual disk corruption, RAID and other storage/server hardware failures, and deleted or corrupt files contained within virtualised storage systems. The effects are also usually far more serious because the volume of data stored in a virtual environment is exponential to that stored on a single physical server or storage device.

The survey went on to reveal that only 33% of companies were able to recover 100% of their lost data, which represents a 21% decrease from 2011, when 54% were able to recover 100% of their data. The other 67% of respondents disclosed that they were not able to get all their data back from their most recent data loss event.

As the use of VMware has matured into a more mainstream infrastructure and it appears fewer data loss incidents are occurring, organisations are still experiencing these incidents.  The decreased ability to fully restore data proves that by not engaging an experienced data recovery service after a virtual environment data loss the risk of permanent data loss increases.

When asked about how organisations attempted recovery, the largest portion of respondents, 43%, actually rebuilt the data. Only one in four looked to a data recovery company.

724 IT professionals participated in this survey in August 2013. 223 respondents took the survey in-person at VMworld 2013 in the U.S., while 466 from EMEA and 35 from APAC responded to the survey online.


Common sources of virtualised data loss
Though virtualised data storage may provide an efficient and secure way to save your data, there are still risks.

Some of the most common causes of VMware data loss are:

  • Deleted VMware vStorage VMFS volumes
  • Deleted Virtual Machine Disks (VMDK) and snapshots
  • VMDK corruption
  • VMware vStorage VMFS volume corruption
  • Traditional RAID and hardware failures
  • Deleted or corrupt files contained within virtualised storage systems
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