Amy Hodge, Science data librarian at Stanford University libraries brings us a story of data loss from the 1970s.
Described as a "gut-wrenching tale", this is the story of a fire that destroyed records made by Dr. Srinivas, related to his observations made during a year-long visit to India over four decades earlier.
It is a salutary reminder that if efforts are not taken to protect data, years of research could be ruined, whether by arsonists or a hurricane, or a dropped laptop or spilt cup of coffee. Eighteen years of work went into processing the field records lost by Dr. Srinivas - all three copies were held in the same building where the fire was started.
Source: Case study: Data storage and back up. Stanford University Libraries http://library.stanford.edu/research/data-management-services/case-studies/case-study-data-storage-and-backup