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Data corruption

Data corruption

Data corruption definition

Data corruption happens when errors in computer data introduce unintended changes to the original data. As a result of these changes, the data can become unreadable, unusable, or inaccessible to an application or a user. The errors may occur during storage, writing, reading, transmission, or processing of data. Data corruption can be accidental or intentional and can be prevented with specific measures that provide end-to-end data integrity.

Data corruption types

  • Detected. Detected data corruption refers to a data-related problem that the system or the team have already identified. The source and the scope of the corruption will typically be known.
  • Undetected. Undetected data corruption is when file changes occur without the knowledge of the operating system or the team. This type of data corruption is also known as silent data corruption.

Causes of data corruption

  • Human error. Data corruption can occur because of human mistakes, such as accidental deletion, file overwrites, mishandled data migration, or social engineering attacks.
  • Malware. A malicious program may infect the system and cause data corruption.
  • Poor software or hardware. Software bugs or hardware failure may also corrupt the data.

Signs of data corruption

  • Sudden application or program crashes
  • A device slows down or keeps freezing
  • File names change into nonsense characters
  • Inability to open a folder or file
  • Data is lost or relocated

How to prevent data corruption

  • Regular, reliable backups
  • Using reliable software and hardware
  • Periodically test backups
  • Organize team training to avoid human errors
  • Install antivirus software

Further reading

Ultimate digital security