Living the ransomware nightmare, sans ransomware

A long time ago I started warning people they needed to backup multiple places, verify with a third device that their backups were good. I didn’t know how that was not going to be enough. Let me set the stage here – I’m paranoid, I watch people lose data all the freaking time and it’s usually because they didn’t back up, left their backup drive plugged in and it got ransomwared as well, etc.

The only thing I really care about in terms of data are the works my mom wrote, and the photos of my kiddos and wife. I have 261 gigs of content I want to keep safe. I pay Google for some storage, work pays Backblaze for documents, work and I share a Veeam license for a workstation because, well, when my home machine goes down I’m really not valuable, I back up to two other places as well.

Yesterday my computer was running absurdly slowly. Nothing had disk activity, everything tended to indicate problems with physical media. It’s the feeling you get when that hard drive goes click click click zzzt ztzt zzt and then suddenly everything works, but in this case it was on a RAID array with a couple of SSDs and a controller that was backing them up so no sounds involved.

Rebooted the machine, it’d been rebooted before a couple of days ago no issue, this time it didn’t boot. I ended up unplugging almost everything and eventually got to the thing to boot a couple of hours into fighting it.

System boots up, audio doesn’t work, I’m getting messages that various services are shot, can’t access some folders, some folders images are corrupt. Fun stuff.

Look at my lovely photos

I force a chkdsk, Windows says it found and repaired several things. RAID controller is saying everything’s peachy and all drives are fine. Boot back up, no change. Data’s corrupt, I can run enough things to assume this is hardware failure and move on to declaring my T7500 dead again.

I go into the mode of shut it down, get working on a new machine, this shall not be trusted. Machine’s 11-12 years old at this point, this means anything I do with it is going to require a couple of weeks of burn in again and yeah, it’s time for me to bite the bullet and just move on to something capable.

Restore what?

I fire up the most underpowered laptop you’ve ever run across. I mean even in its day it wasn’t hot shit, and that day is gone. But you know what, I use it for email and testing ports at work to see if they work.

I check Backblaze, I had watched a couple of months prior as 200+ gigs of my photos moved their butts up there and… yeah, there’s 4.7gb synced of the drive it was on. I don’t know what happened, but Backblaze was configured to, or just did, skip the now-corrupted folders.

I check Veeam, we back up work to offsite at my house, we back up my house offsite to work, there’re 14 days of data and … yeah, it’s all corrupted. Well, not all of it but looking at files from yesterday and from two weeks ago the damage appears to have been done for a while.

I check Google – oh yeah, this one’s my fault, I moved the pictures out of the sync area because I pay for 200 gigs and the pics are 260… head to the freaking desk. Looks like the data corruption on the documents however did not reach Google Drive.

So yeah, all the services we pay for, corrupt. Sadly Backblaze when you go corporate is a 30 day retention, and Veeam, it’s doing what I configured it to do because I didn’t expect the Spanish Inquisition.

Somewhere there’s an Acronis backup, unfortunately the details of that are going to require the unit to boot so I can get to the folder with that info.

Thank you Rocketman

Back in February I wrote about how Google Photos was becoming significantly less free for their photo storage. In March I installed Amazon Photos thinking I’d go ahead and sound like a loon because who would possibly need to back up their photos in that many places? Couldn’t happen right?

At least every photo I’ve compared to busted ones on my backups has been in original unmolested quality. It’ll take another 200 gigs of downloading to be sure but it looks like with Amazon I’ve managed to at least salvage original quality kid photos.

In summary

Computer: dead
Backup drive: corrupted data was backed up the last two backups
Backblaze: probably corrupted and stopped backing up C many moons ago, could be ransomware
Veeam: backed up corrupted data, not its fault
Acronis: TBD
Google: Ran out of storage so it’s all their whatever quality, documents seem fine so my mom’s writing is good
USB stick containing copies: stopped working before my vacation
Amazon: So far so good although looks like the second folder containing my wedding photos is 10 gigs short (raw format, unedited photos of which I have print quality, I’m betting Amazon skipped)

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Paul E King

Paul King started with GoodAndEVO in 2011, which merged with Pocketables, and as of 2018 he's evidently the owner. He lives in Nashville, works at a film production company, is married with two kids. Facebook | Twitter | Donate | More posts by Paul | Subscribe to Paul's posts