How A Backup Data Saved The Day

December 31, 2021
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One of the most terrifying tales in the tech industries is related to data storage. We often hear the media talk about hackers leaking user data and selling them on the deep web for hundreds—even thousands—of dollars. While the idea of someone putting your personal information up for sale is concerning, the equally terrifying data loss has not been as widely covered in the media.

As much as 48% of IT professionals have at least experienced some form of data loss which requires immediate recovery, according to a 2018 survey. A vast majority of IT departments stated in the same survey that recovery attempts are top priorities when such an event occurs and must be completed within 24 hours.

While such dreadful catastrophe cannot be completely avoided, IT professionals can prepare to minimize the impact. One of the easiest ways to ease the effect of data loss is preparing a backup data. The backup data could be stored in a cloud storage or in a separate server than the main server. A backup data of your website would help you, especially if your business operation relies heavily on the website.

The Horrors of Data Loss

The internet has a ton of horror stories from the IT industry regarding data loss. The stories we are about to present should be taken as an important case study of the risk imposed by data loss and how they managed to solve it.

That Time “Toy Story 2” Almost Never Happened

The sequel to Disney and Pixar’s 1995 hit animated movie “Toy Story” was almost cancelled due to data loss before it was even rendered for theatrical release. Oren Jacob, one of the Pixar employees working on the movie back then recounted that the catastrophe occurred after somebody ran “RM-star” (RM*), a command in the Linux and UNIX-based machines used to work in the project that removes everything in the file system as fast as it can.

Everyone that worked on the project was horrified when a whole year’s worth of work disappeared one after the other right in front of their eyes. After realizing something is happening in the file system, Jacob immediately requested the system to be unplugged. When they tried to start the machine again, everything in that machine had gone.

Initial validation of backup files in another machine came out good, so they started working from that backup. Unfortunately, several days later they discovered that the backup files were incomplete and corrupt. The crew were ready to roll back two months to the last full backup they did and start over from there when Galyn Susman, another crewmember, mentioned that she might have a copy of the lost files at home.

Susman was working from home that time to personally tend to her new-born baby and regularly got copies of the files worked on at the office. So, they took Susman’s machine to the office, ran a validation program, and carefully selected files to work from. Though some of the lost files were never recovered at all, Susman’s copy helped the team assemble a new master for “Toy Story 2”, and that version was the one that survived until the theatrical release.

A Frantic Man and His Lost Thesis

Another horror story about data loss and how crucial it is to regularly save and backup your data was told by Ryan Dube. He recalled the event that happened during his college years when floppy disks and DOS-based systems were still a thing. Back then, he was working as a computer cluster consultant and was about to be promoted to supervisor the following month.

While training a new consultant in the university library computer cluster where he worked, someone asked him for help. The 30-something-year-old man was almost in tears because his document was gone and the disk was stuck. Looking at his PC, Dube deduced that the man was using the archaic DOS-based word processing program instead of the newer point-and-click program and had not saved the document he worked on.

Dube asked the frantic man when was the last time he saved, only to get “I wrote 30 pages” as an answer, which means the man might have just lost about 18000-words worth of work. After carefully taking out the destroyed floppy disk from the PC, Dube was sure the man had lost all hope to recover the files in it. He asked what’s inside the disk—it was the man’s thesis. He asked whether the man had made any backups—he had not.

Please, Regularly Backup Your Data

Those IT horror stories teach us to never, ever have a single copy of anything in your computer. Never hesitate to save your work in several drives, either in or out of your computer—like in a USB drive. You can also upload your backup data to cloud storage services. This way, unless something catastrophic happens to the cloud server—which rarely happens—your backup is safe and secure and can be accessed anytime you need.

Backup data would not prevent catastrophic tech failure from happening at all. But, if you have prepared your backups, you can easily recover should such a nightmare occur to you or your business.


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