World Backup Day is a week away, but did you actually save your data?

I’m going to tell you a backup horror story. There once was a man named Paul, yes it’s me, I’m narrating here… he was quite paranoid about losing data because 30+ years of good memories were on his computer including scans of long-faded photos, wedding pictures, videos of his babies, etc.

TL;DR – Paul tells you to do something free. Like actually free, not the free that people claim if you give them money it’s free.

Beyond that were gigs of business data, emails, etc. We’re going to ask you to not get into the private/personal computer argument here, third tier data storage was one of the things the computer was tasked to do.

Backups were assigned – Veeam, Windows, Amazon Photos, Google Photos, and Backblaze. We’re going to leave Backblaze out of this because there’s a high degree of possibility that it never worked as intended due to external circumstances.

One day the computer was running really slowly. It rebooted and would not come back up. 30 minutes later it finally made it to a messed up desktop and it was discovered that many folders were inaccessible. Some quick low level attempts were made to determine what was going on but all that resulted was finding a list of unreadable directories, one of which was Paul’s wedding photos, many of which were the kid school photos.

A replacement machine was built. A Veeam restore was initiated, and most of the photos restored were garbage. Data as old as six months prior it turned out had been corrupted, and it’d been backing up this corrupted data religiously for months.

The same discovery was made with Google Drive, the Windows backups, and Backblaze (which was installed during the death window, I hold no animosity.) The logical drive had corrupted at some point, and data got garbaged, and never was an error thrown.

Google Photos had low res versions of my photos in meh condition, did not have the undamaged original quality wedding photos anywhere. I was only saved due to having done a review of Amazon Photos and it backing up the originals.

All the corporate data I was sitting on was toast, but it was toast that was backed up in two or more locations and this was just a destination that corrupted.

I had months of reports from all the backup softwares that everything backed up fine… and it did… it backed up corrupted garbage.

I had months of a six drive RAID array with Megaraid saying the drives were all fine and dandy.

I had an NTFS file system that said no errors.

But I was backing up damaged files for who knows how long. Unless you manually check some things occasionally you never know whether your files are munged, changed, etc. I never once had a read error, failed backup (due to reading/my computer,) nor any indication that the data on my system was no longer good.

So yeah, check your data occasionally. There is no way that I would have ever suspected a multi-drive RAID + multiple backup options could end up with such a disaster scenario.

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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