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The importance of backing up your precious data

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November 15, 2016

Despite losing tons of user data from shared folders in last month's huge service outage, King's College London is asking its staff not to save work independently of the university's IT facilities.

In October, various departments across the university suffered irretrievable data loss when a 3PAR one-fault-tolerant Raid Array suffered a massive hardware failure.

Almost every system at the university, from payroll to shared drive access, went down as a result.

Then a week later, the problem was still interrupting business and continued to do so for several days.

"There will be lessons to be learnt from this incident," was the refrain of an apologetic CIO, Nick Leake, whose emails to staff were seen by some people with knowledge of the incident.

Unfortunately, those lessons don't seem to have extended to the value of independent backups, which have saved an awful lot of expensive research from being written off, because they are being prohibited by the institution.

Another email on Monday implored staff to "not save work independently on personal devices, or any other purchased storage services" warning that they may not have suitable backups in place, or could be a risk to the security of information.

One staffer at KCL complained about the condescending attitude of Dr Ian Tebbett, senior vice president of operations, and noted the lack of technical information regarding the university's new backup system, which considering recent events, could only provoke further mistrust among staff.

Responding to our enquiries, a KCL spokesperson said: "Virtually all our IT systems have been restored following the recent service outage. As the shared drives have been made available to users, we have been working with them to identify any issues and this process is ongoing. The shared drives have been installed on new infrastructure and their backup is on new technology. We are encouraging users to save data according to standard King's practice." (sic)

Tebbett's email reiterated to staff that an "independent external review" will be conducted of the incident once staff have "the full picture" regarding recovery of the final shared drives.

"This will include a thorough review of the causes and effects of the said service outage and the full implications and business impact across the university," Tebbet asserted.

"I expect this to take about 6 to 8 weeks from the start. We will share the recommendations and our response to them once the investigation is complete," he wrote.

Source: King's College London.


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