Another thing to worry about - summer lightning

Brief: IT departments face an additional challenge during summer storms - dealing with the risks posed by extreme weather

Ferocious weather conditions are to blame for a 25 percent increase in damaged and lost data, according to new research.

According to Ontrack Data Recovery, summer lightning strikes often cause power surges that lead to blown circuits and seriously damage the process of writing data to hard drives. Lightning strikes, say Ontrack, can also cause computer malfunctions that leave businesses immobile.

"Lightning strikes cause sensitive electronics to blow on the PCBs (printed circuit boards) of hard disk drives and consequently the headers of hard disk drives shut down," says Adrian Palmer, managing director at Ontrack.

During a power surge, 'black-lining' can occur, and data may be lost during the heads 'park' procedure. The power surge sends large amounts of electricity directly to the header of the hard drive, and the resulting electromagnetic field wipes away the data beneath it.

"All data under the black line is destroyed, and it can sometimes be so severe that the damage can be seen through a powerful microscope," says Palmer.

Ontrack figures showed a 70 percent rise in black-lining cases during the summer months.