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I feel bad for this guy.

March 20, 2007

I think we’ve all been here. I got this in an email from my father, who is also in the technology industry:

UNEAU, Alaska — Perhaps you know that sinking feeling when a single keystroke accidentally destroy hours of work. Now imagine wiping out a disc drive containing an account worth $38 billion.

A computer technician at the Alaska Department of Revenue deleted applicant information for an oil-funded sales account — one of state residents’ biggest perks.

While reformatting the disk drive during a routine maintenance check, the technician mistakenly reformatted the backup drive as well and, suddenly, all the data disappeared.

A third line of defense — backup tapes that are updated nightly — were unreadable.

“Nobody panicked, but we instantly went into planning for the worst-case scenario,” said Permanent Fund Dividend Division Director Amy Skow, about the computer foul-up in July that ended up costing the department more than $200,000.

Nine months worth of information concerning the yearly payout from the Alaska Permanent Fund was gone: some 800,000 electronic images that had been painstakingly scanned into the system months earlier, the 2006 paper applications that people had either mailed in or filed over the counter, and supporting documentation such as birth certificates and proof of residence.

I’m thinking MAYBE they should have had a disk-to-disk backup of some sort. Tapes fail, let’s face it. They are great for archiving and/or off-site monthly storage or whatnot, but I have been a proponent of disk-to-disk backup (say, to a NAS) and also off-site images or backups stored on disk. They should have even considered a CDP device such as the Sonicwall CDP. I have played with these and like them a lot.

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