Technician's error wipes out data for state fund

Perhaps you've experienced that sinking feeling when a single keystroke accidentally destroys hours of work. Now imagine wiping out a disk drive containing an account worth $38 billion. That's what happened to a computer technician reformatting a disk drive at the Alaska Department of Revenue. While doing routine maintenance work, the technician accidentally deleted applicant information for an oil-funded account -- one of Alaska residents' biggest perks -- and mistakenly reformatted the backup drive, as well.

There was still hope, until the department discovered its third line of defense had failed: backup tapes were unreadable. "Nobody panicked, but we instantly went into planning for the worst-case scenario," said Permanent Fund Dividend Division Director Amy Skow. The computer foul-up last July would end up costing the department more than $200,000. Over the next few days, as the department, the division and consultants from Microsoft Corp. and Dell Inc. labored to retrieve the data, it became obvious the worst-case scenario was at hand.

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News source: CNN

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It was the Department of Revenue. Unfortunately for them, they most likely do use multiple overwrite delete/format utilities. That way we aren’t reading about someone uncovering this data on a drive found at a garage sale.
What I want to know more about is the tape failure. That was a six month old tape backup, not some dusty old DAT cassette. Human error was not attributed to its failure in the article, so what went wrong?

IamZed said,
It was the Department of Revenue. Unfortunately for them, they most likely do use multiple overwrite delete/format utilities. That way we aren’t reading about someone uncovering this data on a drive found at a garage sale.
What I want to know more about is the tape failure. That was a six month old tape backup, not some dusty old DAT cassette. Human error was not attributed to its failure in the article, so what went wrong?

just like everything else tapes can fail at any time and quite unexpectedly.

in my place we have tapes fail maybe every few weeks or so (we have about 1200 tapes in our library currently though so the percentage failing is small). whether it be that they mash themselves in the drive or become unreadable for some unknown reason

on occasions you'll remove a working tape with a backup fully finished 100% no errors one night and you return it to the server the next day to find it is unreadable. it just happens from time to time

Seriously, how heavy of a format did this guy do? Just a regular old reformat would leave the data easily recoverable... I don't know about anybody else, but this definitely sounds intentional to me...

Murphy's law kicking asses again.

Anyways imho always backup tapes are unreadable for some strange reasons, also they aren't cheap and they are bulky. It's way better to have a harddisk system of backup or backup in cd/dvd.


Magallanes said,
Murphy's law kicking asses again.

Anyways imho always backup tapes are unreadable for some strange reasons, also they aren't cheap and they are bulky. It's way better to have a harddisk system of backup or backup in cd/dvd.

quite often though you'll need your recovery saves stored off site and be available to easily return them if you need them. this is why people use tapes because they are easy enough to transport.

hard disks are good too but if you have them in an off site location you need some pretty hefty net connections direct to them to transfer your backup data every night.

guess in the end tapes are easier and cheaper for a lot of folks.

Are You Sure You Want To Delete?
Yes
Are You Really Sure You Want To Delete?
Yes
Are You So Really Sure You Want To Delete?
Yes

- File Deleted. LOL

Except now it's:
"Are you sure you want to delete?"
Yes
"Are you really sure you want to delete?"
Yes, dammit
"Are you absolutely sure you want to delete?"
Yes, yes, just delete already
"Windows requires an Administrator password to proceed"
*grumble* *tap* *tap* <clicky>
"Windows needs your permission to delete this file"
GAAAH! *smash* (reformat all drives in a fit of pique)

User's are not expected to backup in companies, esp. when they rely on IT. They had three storage places. The fault is on the IT Dept. not running Disaster Recovery drills and verifiying the backups did work.

What a plonker!

The technician and the department for not making sure they had 2 further backups and their tape backup was working o.k. in the first place.

lbmouse said,
It's not that hard, especial when you consider that they were using MS Sql Server.
Say WHAT?!?!

Like most "computer" problems (regardless of platform), the problem boils down to an issue between the keyboard and chair. Linux, BSD, OSX, Solaris, even DOS would not have fixed this issue.

Lighten up, it was a joke. I thought it was funny that their RDBMS was SQL Server. I use it everyday (more-or-less all day) and can't tell how fondly I look back on the days when I worked in a shop that used Oracle. So, I think I've earned the right to take a pot-shot at it now and then ;). Now... this problem *could* be related to using SQL Server if this guys gets a frustrated with it as I do. Makes me want to take a bucket of water into the data center.