Rant: Keep your critical data local

I think it’s about time I’ll add some personal rant to this blog to add some personal touch to it. Just few words about critical data storage at modern times.

I had a customer server disk failure the other day. Nothing extraordinary about that – old server circa 2006 or 2008 happily humming on old IDE western digital’s 160Gb softraid mirror.

As it usually happens both disks died within 40 min interval, although not completely “died”. One went “missing” all together, another one produced huge list of I/O and media errors.
the only possible way to salvage whatever we could was to boot from rescue CD and try to copy the data to the new server.
Which we did to the best of our ability. I was able to salvage the database all websites, cronjobs, DNS zones and almost all the content that was readable. Man, was I happy after plowing the whole day in the IP KVM with azerty keyboard layout (don’t ask). Having standby server available I was even able to reduce downtime to some manageable minimum and got the sites back online within 6 hours.
And what do I have for “Thank you” from them? Remember this old joke about some brave guy who saved a little boy from drowning? The saved boy’s mother came by to … ask him if he happen to see the hat the boy was wearing when he was rescuing the boy and went on about how nice it would be to get the hat back as well.
The customer actually kept complaining that “some files from web sites are missing” and that “there were some really REALLY critical e-mails and I should go to the old disk and retrieve it”.
Guys, I’ve done all I can and will do under the circumstances – I’m not data recovery professional (at least not paid as such) and I’m happen to be about 3500km away from the physical server. And more over –
If your information is so CRITICAL – keep it local as well as remote. With all this cloud hype going around these days, people started imagining some elves who will hold their ‘critical data’ in some diamond vaults and god forbid something happen they will resurrect this data from unreadable hard drives.
Read my lips – Not gonna happen.
Yes, online storage providers (let’s be frank and drop modern “cloud” out of definition of it) will say how sorry they are and will probably credit you with some extra storage space to keep even more of your data remotely, but nobody will loose any sleep over some data loss.
Oh, you can go ahead and sue them if you feel like making yourself laughing stock or feel an urgent need to end up on Daily Mail pages – this is not going to bring your data back.
It’s really hard to imagine critical information being huge (unless of course it’s photo or video archive) – take some time and do multiple backups of it. If your hard drive fails, depending on how critical this information is you can always try your luck with the data recovery services – there is always a chance to get something back. Unlike the situation when everything is stored somewhere remote.
And try to be polite and thank the person who managed to recover 95% of your dedicated server content even though you still miss whatever there was in this 5% you didn’t get back.

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