Page 1: Introduction

The true cost of data loss - Introduction

The true cost of data loss

Digital Preservation is about mitigating risk. 

Mitigations cost money. 

It is hard to justify spending that money without a firm grasp of the magnitude of the sums of money involved (the value of what's at risk and the cost of protecting it) and the likelihood of loss. There has already been some work relating to the likelihood of loss and the cost of preserving data, but understanding the magnitude of any loss is significantly more difficult.

It is difficult to value data. It's even more challenging to put a figure on the cost of the knock-on effects of data loss (reputational damage or loss of productivity for instance). Often the sums involved only become apparent after a disaster has happened. 

No one wants to be in the position of suffering their own data loss in order to drive a business case.

However, we know that destructive data disasters have already happened to some unfortunate organisations and individuals. Given the commercial sensitivity of any such loss, it is likely that the disasters we know about are just the tip of the iceberg - no one likes to share such information publicly. 

Assuming that the organisations that have suffered data loss have survived the incident, the next logical step is for them to undertake a root cause analysis and possibly to quantify the magnitude of the loss. This means that there is almost certainly information in existence (but hidden away) that can shed some light on the true cost of data loss. The problem is, it is challenging to persuade those who have this information to share it, even for the good of the community.

And that's where this anonymous survey comes in. 

The Digital Preservation Coalition and Jisc are asking organisations and individuals to share anonymously some key information that will benefit the whole of the digital preservation community (and beyond). This information will be used to undertake some quantitative and qualitative research around the cost of data loss and then produce an anonymised report for the benefit of the community. If the project is sufficiently successful, then the survey will be left open. The research will be repeated at appropriate intervals and additional reports will be published.

We're also keen to understand and share mitigation strategies, so please share those as well if you can.

Please help (and please pass on the link to this survey to any individual or organisation you feel could help as well).

You may respond to this survey more than once.

Simplified Privacy and Data Protection information


  1. Information will be collected and stored within the EU/UK.
  2. No Personally Identifiable Information will be collected or retained without the permission of the individual concerned.
  3. Information obtained will be stored in an anonymised or encrypted format on appropriately secured infrastructure.
  4. The source information will be retained for 12 months after the publication of the research report or for 24 months after submission, whichever is the shorter period unless permission is obtained from the provider of that information to retain it longer.
  5. Anonymous aggregated results will be retained indefinitely.
  6. Jisc will be the data controller of this information. The Digital Preservation Coalition may act as a Data processor. If that is the case, there will be an appropriate Data Protection agreement in place between Jisc and DPC.
  7. ALL questions are optional, but please answer as many as you can. The more information that you supply the more informed and useful the resulting research will be.

A full data protection and privacy notice can be found at


Note: It is possible to participate in this survey without providing ANY personal information.

Questions and timing

It's impossible to give an indication of how long it will take to complete, but we (and the community) are very grateful for any and all effort you put into it.

Some of the responses in this survey will require thought/reflection. With this in mind, we have provided an overview of the questions for you to download to enable you to prepare your responses off-line before submitting them.

Question set download: