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One man’s data loss is another man’s lesson

A hard lesson in the absolute necessity of backing up hosting data was learned this week by the owner of a long-established automobile forum hosted with RackForce. The story, offered to WHIR magazine by the site owner himself, should speak volumes to anyone concerned about the security of their files and their own culpability when it comes to regularly backing up data.

Zack Kanter is the owner of ImpalaSSforum.com, a community that has existed for over 10 years and was home to more than 1.5 million posts by its members. While performing routine site maintenance and approaching RackForce technical agents for support, a communication failure lead the technician to mistakenly delete the main forum database, instantly erasing Kanter’s business platform as an online publisher and performance auto parts salesman. As if the resulting downtime that the replacement of 10 years worth of data entails wasn’t enough, Kanter realized that he did not have a single backup of the lost database, making recovery impossible.

For its part, RackForce immediately acknowledged the error and issued a short statement to WHIR following the breaking of the news, calling the event “unusual and unfortunate” in an email and noting that, while responsibility for the event ultimately lay with the technician in question, Mr. Kanter did not subscribe to the company’s own backup service offering.

The issue was caused by a miscommunication between the customer and one of our technical staff, which resulted in a data file being deleted. We made every effort to recover the lost information; however, because the customer did not subscribe to any back up services with RackForce nor did they have any back ups of their own, the lost data was unrecoverable.

While Mr. Kanter is surely cursing the errant technician, and rightfully so, one has to wonder why exactly he operated a web site of that age, standing and content without regularly backing up the associated files and databases. Given the extreme consequences faced in this situation, we can likely assume that a clear lesson has been learned by those involved but it is an equally good opportunity for hostees in general to expound upon themselves the absolute necessity of regular backups. With easy access to backup services offered by many hosts and third-party firms, not to mention the relative ease of working from the command line to schedule data backups, there are simply no excuses where data security is concerned.

As the popular saying goes, stuff happens. The most important aspect of any situation involving data loss is the recoverability of said data; backup and backup often, your very livelihood may depend on it someday.

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Discussion

6 comments for “One man’s data loss is another man’s lesson”

  1. I’ve seen the publicly posted e-mail regarding this matter.

    The backup service was running before RackForce did a migration, and failed to migrate the backup services.

    RackForce Tech asked site owner if he could delete Log files, then deleted .MYI & .MYD SQL files.

    More here.
    http://www.impalassforum.com/vBulletin/showpost.php?p=2118369&postcount=35

    Posted by Barbarossa | Friday, September 18, 2009, 11:06 am
  2. They made no attempt to recover the data, any good IT tech knows even deleted data can be recovered.
    They let the website run, overwriting the deleted data and did NOTHING to recover it. There is muliple ways to recover data, As soon as their tech deleted MYSQL database files. They should of moved over whatever other websites running on that server,to another and started data recovery on our server.
    What type of tech deletes MYSQL databse file?
    I wish we could afford a laywer and take them to court.
    They are a joke of a hosting, BUYER BEWARE!!!!
    PS. They delete our data and then offer a backup solution free of charge, What a slap in the face.

    Posted by WOLF | Wednesday, September 23, 2009, 2:22 pm
  3. Also the write up does not mention how our forum had a backup solution 2 years ago. We moved over to another type of forum and some how RackForce forgot/didnt move the backup over with it.

    Posted by WOLF | Wednesday, September 23, 2009, 2:24 pm
  4. The owner of ImpalaSSforum.com, is not Zack Kanter.

    The owner of the site had subscribed to backup services, but had the mistaken impression that RackForce would continue his subscription. RackForce canceled the backup subscription without notifying the owner of ImpalaSSforum.com

    The totality of this loss falls completely on RackForce

    Posted by Wayne Bengston | Tuesday, October 6, 2009, 3:55 pm
  5. After reading through the support ticket I am grossly amazed. Generally in this industry 1 mistake can be reversed, but the combination of these 2(discontinued backups & deletion of DB) may have put the nails in this site’s coffin.
    In my opinion while RackForce may not be able to held legally liable, there’s no denying the ethics here. 1 year of backups does seem like somewhat of a slap in the face considering the situation’s severity..
    Yet another lesson always to hold only yourself responsible for your backups. Mine are in 10+ locations worldwide, where’s yours? :)

    Posted by TJ Phippen | Sunday, November 29, 2009, 10:29 am
  6. Certainly, this was a grossly unfortunate event, but liability rests with both the vendor and the client. Beyond all else, the client should have been backing up their data remotely. This story just adds to the growing list of businesses that haven’t incorporated disaster recovery policies, and have then been burnt.

    Posted by Steve-Hostirian | Monday, January 18, 2010, 1:47 pm

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