Modern and Ancient Data Loss

When one thinks of data it’s hard not to instantly think of files on a computer. Now more than ever data is surrounding us, and not just in that simple digital format either. Information is king, now more than ever. Billions of gigabytes of data are lost year after year. Interestingly most of these losses come due to simple human error. It’s amazing how much a misclick or faulty training can destroy in an instant.

Yet some data destruction is far more malicious. The thought that instantly comes to mind, malware, is certainly a major source of data loss. Phishing, spoofing, and ransomware advance year after year with no signs of stopping. Defenses arise with similar speed to prevent attacks, but it’s a never ending war. 

Looking back though, data isn’t always what it is seen as today. The data of the past was something as simple as a book. Parchment, written documents, filed papers, these were the venues for data in the past. Data loss today is when heaps of digital data is removed from where it belongs. Data loss of the past meant the literal destruction of words and numbers on paper.

The most prominent example in history is the destruction of The Library of Alexandria. Translating this event into today’s standards, there was over 571 GB of data destroyed. This is a massive amount of information, especially considering how much existed at the time. Yet in comparison to today it’s a nearly laughable amount of data. Wyoming, the U.S state with the least data loss, has had over 10 thousand records lost. California has over 5 billion files lost.

It’s fascinating to compare what data is to what it once was. Even more interesting is the analysis of what it means to lose that data. It’s worth mentioning though that the data lost today is often insignificant. There is more information than ever available, but there’s also more junk than ever. There are real and conscious attacks on finance industries and public files. Yet with so much data, so much of the data lost will never be remembered. And really that’s okay, that’s the state of data today.