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Backup and Disaster Recovery Chronicles: Data Loss Horror Stories

Backup and Disaster Recovery Chronicles Data Loss Horror Stories

Backup and Disaster Recovery Chronicles Data Loss Horror Stories
Nobody likes hearing about a major data breach, especially if it’s happened to a large corporation, that you just bought your groceries from. These are often highly publicized events and it often takes the corporation decades to repair and rebuild public trust, and compromised data (if at all). But what about instances where large corporations suffer a data disaster due to environmental factors, or human error? These events are less publicized but just as damaging. According to Wikipedia, companies that had a major loss of business data, 43% never reopen and 29% close within two years.  As a result, the data backup and disaster recovery of systems needs to be taken very seriously. This involves investment of time, money and planning with the goal of ensuring minimal losses in the event of a disruptive event. If you need more proof about the importance of backing up your data, and having a disaster recovery plan, check out these data disasters that you may not have heard about.

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In 2014, the U.S. consulate database crashed that impacting 200,000 or more visa-seekers worldwide. The cause was a simple software patch gone rogue, causing a domino effect that resulted in the U.S. State Department’s central passport and visa system to crash. While the data was backed up, the system was not, throwing visa processing to grind to a halt during the slow recovery process.

According to, in 2015 An independent computer security researcher uncovered a database of information on 191 million voters that was exposed on the open Internet due to an incorrectly configured database. The database included names, addresses, birth dates, party affiliations, phone numbers and emails of voters in all 50 U.S. states. The researcher, Chris Vickery said he found the information while looking for information exposed on the Web in a bid to raise awareness of data leaks.

If you’re one of those business owners who turns a suspicious eye at ‘the cloud’ as a backup and disaster recovery, you’d be thankful after hearing about the data meltdown at bookmark sharing website Ma.gnolia in 2009. The service lost both its primary store of user data, as well as its backup. The disaster was so devastating that the company folded.

Here’s a GREAT example of how working from home  saved the day. The American computer animation film studio, Pixar, came very close to losing a very large portion of its film, Toy Story 2. According to Pixar co-founder Ed Catmull, the entire film was almost lost when an undisclosed employee typed a, “remove all”, command. Shortly thereafter, technicians realized that their backups hadn’t been working for a month. As the story goes, previously (secretly) the technical director of the film,  wanting to work from home to catch up with the kids, had been making copies of the entire film and transferring it to her home computer. Incredibly, most of the film was saved!

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