Backups are good - but don't forget to check your backups work [VIDEO]

Filed Under: Data loss

Toy StoryYou hear people talking about the importance of making backups all the time. Chances are that data is the life blood of your company - if your data goes down the pan, it could be curtains for your business.

And that's why you want to have backups of your data.

But if the worse happens, and you lose your data, a backup isn't going to be any help at all if you find you can't restore from it, or if the backup is corrupted.

This truth is underlined quite delightfully in this video about how Pixar's fantastic movie "Toy Story 2" was nearly flushed down the toilet due to not checking that the backups were working properly.

For those who are interested, it appears that the backup software being used by Pixar at the time was failing to deal elegantly with a "full disk" situation, and thus hiding messages that the backup was falling over.

The full story is told with more detail by Oren Jacob, the associate technical director of "Toy Story 2", in this post on Quora.

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10 Responses to Backups are good - but don't forget to check your backups work [VIDEO]

  1. Weakest Links. · 802 days ago

    So what you are saying is that Pixar employees take entire copies of movies so they can work on them at home... Really.

    • common worker · 801 days ago

      Yep...apparently, it's ok for them to do it...but not us peasants.

  2. How many years in prison did she get?

  3. pochp · 801 days ago

    Your post hit me Graham.
    I'm a safety nut but I don't check if all my backups work lol

  4. Saxpoet · 801 days ago

    I think that Pixar should make all their press releases and SEC filings as cartoons.

  5. Ben · 801 days ago

    So in 25 words or less, how does one know a backup will work without actually trying to use it? Not trying to be obtuse here, but I've had various backup software give a prompt that the "backup created successfully" only to find out it didn't.

    • Suspicious · 798 days ago

      you can usually compare file size, or yes, just try and access it once in a while. It's how I found our shadow server wasn't actually shadowing!

    • Fred Evil · 798 days ago

      Practice restores. They're a pain, but they're the only way to no for sure that your backups are actually backing up valid data.

    • Paul · 797 days ago

      Create a virtual machine (replicating your production machine) and restore. Check the data.
      Done.

  6. Backup Bob · 744 days ago

    If this story is true then Pixar needs to get its act together. This could have been the end of a multi-million dollar project.

    1. To run RM * you would need "god" rights to the root of the computer. That level of access should be restricted and logs should track who used it.

    2. Backup software is preferable to relying on someone to run a manual backup . WIth a backup rotation scheme data can be re-constructed easily.

    3. Backups should always be verified by recoving data to another computer and bringing it on line.

    4. With replication and "snapshot" technology data can be recovered as of a few minutes ago or a few hours ago. That is an excellent first line of defense, with backup as secondary.

    5. It is fortunate a user had a copy of the film at home. That saved the day and exposed a major security flaw. Do you really want to have one person keeping a personal copy of a multi-million dollar project at home?

    Data protection and security are not as much fun as creating an animated video but they are vital to a successful project.

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About the author

Graham Cluley runs his own award-winning computer security blog, and is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and gives computer security presentations. Send Graham an email, subscribe to his updates on Facebook, follow him on Twitter and App.net, and circle him on Google Plus for regular updates.