Data loss is an error condition in information systems in which information is destroyed by failures (like failed spindle motors or head crashes on hard drives) or neglect (like mishandling, careless handling or storage under unsuitable conditions) in storage, transmission, or processing. Information systems implement backup and disaster recovery equipment and processes to prevent data loss or restore lost data. Data loss can also occur if the physical medium containing the data is lost or stolen.
Data loss is distinguished from data unavailability, which may arise from a network outage. Although the two have substantially similar consequences for users, data unavailability is temporary, while data loss may be permanent. Data loss is also distinct from data breach, an incident where data falls into the wrong hands, although the term data loss has been used in those incidents.
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