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NEED Help: Data Loss Horror Stories

MrCave

New Member
Joined
Oct 27, 2013
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5
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London, United Kingdom, United Kingdom
Hello, I am MA student in Media Design and Communication and for my main project I am looking for personal stories around the topic of data loss and hope some of you in here can help me with some stories., hard-drive crash, theft, corrupt floppy's and more...


1.How did you lose the information?
2. What impact did it have one you?

Many thanks
- Thomas
 

barythrin

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Oct 5, 2005
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Texas
I could share a few stories but I'm not sure how much relevance they have regarding your question. Is there any particular angle you're looking for on this topic? Data loss and theft are sorta odd to tie in together unless the moral of the story is regarding backups or disaster recovery. Did you want full stories or just some sentences of scenarios we've seen?

You could perhaps look back at the "first computer bug"
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Uniballer

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Apr 3, 2014
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USA
In the mid-80's I once unthinkingly deleted a data file on a customer site that contained at least $250K worth of unposted charge transactions. No backup. It took me about 30 hours of writing tools and rebuilding the disk to recover the data (PDP-11 running RSX-11M+). Not a fun weekend.
 

barythrin

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I'll share a common one that I honestly can't remember if I ever did but read warnings about all the time. In unix you set a users home directory to say /home/username. Sometimes when lazy or misconfigured they could get set to / (the top level of your file system). This leads to the sphincter clenching moment when you perform a userdel with the argument to delete their home directory and watch your entire filesystem start scrolling down the screen.

One I *DID* do when I was younger but employed was a temporary internet files cleanup batch file. Windows NT I think put any files you downloaded also in the temporary internet files before "moving" (on my system it seemed to copy them) to the destination download folder. This led to my drive filling up often so I wrote some unchecked batch script to cd tempor~1 folder and I had the 4 temporary directories listed to cd <randomdir1> del *.*, cd .., cd randomdir2, del *.*.

So I obviously and incorrectly assumed those dirs wouldn't change names but for whatever fun reason (roaming profile?, fun?, perhaps I deleted one of them?) one dir name changed so my bat file kicked off. cd randomdir1 (The system cannot find the path specified.) del *.*, cd .. (now out of my temporary internet files directory), cd randomdir2 (The system cannot find the path specified.) del *.*, cd ..

Well I ended up in the c:\winnt folder (can't remember why but it seems like users or temp files were under there and not a c:\users directory or perhaps it caught it just in the directory hierarchy) and deleted most of my install while windows was running. Clever. Windows still ran as the files in use were not deletable and I broke out of the batch file as I saw what it was doing. I waited 3 days for the IT team to respond to my embarrassing ticket request (yeah they laughed out loud on the phone but so did I). In the meantime I mapped my bosses computer's hard drive and did an xcopy /e on his winnt to mine (same version/patches) and was fine anyway during my "down" time. Obviously found the use of the if exist function so life could resume.
 

MrCave

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Oct 27, 2013
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London, United Kingdom, United Kingdom
Hi, where thinking on more "general" stories that you have personal experienced on the topic.
My point is that people are not taking care of backing up, laptop, phones ++ Even the problem with preservation is big, big company and institution got people in the case, but the "average Joe" still don't take the problem seriously or optimistically just trust the "cloud" or got one backup at home..

But thanks a lot for sharing!, please if anyone else have some.. please share..
 

Tor

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Norway/Japan
Back in the early nineties the minicomputer I worked on had a total harddisk crash. I had been keeping up with CCT (tape) backups for years, but this time I had been extremely busy writing some new important software, no other thoughts crept in - and that particular machine was for some reason not in the sysadmin's regular backup scheme, so when I didn't make my own backups there weren't any. I didn't look forward to write all that software again, so the company shipped the disk to a forensic lab, they extracted what they could and shipped me back a CCT. On that tape was a file with disk pages in an unordered sequence, but it was relatively straight forward to search for my source code in there and put it together the right way. I may even have used a Unix computer for that part of the job, I don't recall. So in the end, no horror after all.. but it did cost the company some money (for the forensic lab). At least since then there's never been a lapse in my personal attendence to backups. Everything's in triple copy at all times.. :)
 

SomeGuy

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In the late 1990s I used to be responsible for a site's office file server. I kept the thing humming, and fully backed up to a tape drive.

One mindless re-org later and it was no longer my responsibility.

Some time later they called me in because the new folks couldn't restore some file from backup. It turned out the content of the drives had finally exceeded the capacity of a single tape, so the nightly backup would not finish, expecting them to insert a second tape. And they couldn't be arsed to check the logs to see they needed to do that. Part of the problem was they had stopped setting quotas so users were hogging the entire drive. I instructed them as to what to do to rectify the problem, and had no choice but to hope they would do it. As I recall, while I was there I noticed one of the hard drives in the raid array had failed. I pointed that out and assumed they would take care of that ASAP.

Fast forward a year or so later, and I hear the entire server had crashed and all of the data was lost. The obvious conclusion is they never corrected their backup method, and never replaced the bad drive. Idiots.

The whole thing was political. Those in charge let the system fail to punish the site office for showing independence. The higher ups at the central office were still bitter that people had moved away from the control of their precious VMS "mainframe" in favor of Peecees.
 

Uniballer

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I had been an employee, and later a contractor, for a system vendor in the transportation industry. I got a call from a guy who I used to work with, who now worked for the company to which my ex-employer had sold their transportation business. They needed to duplicate a product made about 8 years before, and had found the manufacturing drawings (case, PC board schematics and layout, wiring, etc.) but couldn't find any source code for the firmware. I had to tell the guy that I had source code backups of the items that I had worked on as a contractor (as agreed), but nothing for the device he had in mind. He told me they would be happy just to recover the firmware image from the programmed processor (I think a Dallas DS5000) in one of the field units, but that the specification had called for the microcontroller firmware to be read protected, so they didn't expect to be able to recover it that way... I wished him good luck, but told him I couldn't help.
 
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Chuck(G)

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There's something comforting about having a backup, isn't there? :)

I've long wondered why there's no option of hardware-protecting certain ares of a disk.
 

Bungo Pony

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Mar 31, 2008
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Winnipeg
My parents' house went up in flames and I had a bunch of C-64 floppies stored there. When I finally got them back (2 months later) they were covered in smoke, water, and mould. I removed the disks from their covers, cleaned as much mould & smoke off them with just water, put them in temporary "new" covers, transferred them as best as they could to a PC, and threw the originals away. Many of these disks had programs that I had written. I was able to recover about 90% of my own stuff. The disks with games weren't so lucky.
 
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