Jump to content

Welcome to Geeks to Go - Register now for FREE

Geeks To Go is a helpful hub, where thousands of volunteer geeks quickly serve friendly answers and support. Check out the forums and get free advice from the experts. Register now to gain access to all of our features, it's FREE and only takes one minute. Once registered and logged in, you will be able to create topics, post replies to existing threads, give reputation to your fellow members, get your own private messenger, post status updates, manage your profile and so much more.

Create Account How it Works
Photo

Computer technician accidentally wipes out info


  • Please log in to reply

#1
frantique

frantique

    Member 2k

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,700 posts
The International Herald Times - March 20, 2007

JUNEAU, Alaska: Perhaps you know that sinking feeling when a single keystroke accidentally destroys hours of work. Now imagine wiping out a disk drive containing information for an account worth $38 billion (€29 billion).

That is what happened to a computer technician reformatting a disk drive at the Alaska Department of Revenue. While doing routine maintenance work, the technician accidentally deleted applicant information for an oil-funded account — one of Alaska residents' biggest perks — and mistakenly reformatted the backup drive, as well.

There was still hope, until the department discovered its third line of defense, backup tapes, were unreadable.

"Nobody panicked, but we instantly went into planning for the worst-case scenario," said Permanent Fund Dividend Division Director Amy Skow. The July computer foul-up, which wiped out dividend distribution information for the fund, would end up costing the department more than $200,000 (€150,000).

Over the next few days, as the department, the division and consultants from Microsoft Corp. and Dell Inc. labored to retrieve the data, it became obvious the worst-case scenario was at hand.

Nine months worth of applicant information for the yearly payout from the Alaska Permanent Fund was gone: some 800,000 electronic images that had been painstakingly scanned into the system months earlier, the 2006 paper applications that people had either mailed in or filed over the counter, and supporting documentation such as birth certificates and proof of residence.

And the only backup was the paperwork itself — stored in more than 300 cardboard boxes.

"We had to bring that paper back to the scanning room, and send it through again, and quality control it, and then you have to have a way to link that paper to that person's file," Skow said.

Half a dozen seasonal workers came back to assist the regular division staff, and about 70 people working overtime and weekends re-entered all the lost data by the end of August.

Last October and November, the department met its obligation to the public. A majority of the estimated 600,000 payments for last year's $1,106.96 (€832.11) individual dividends went out on schedule, including those for 28,000 applicants who were still under review when the computer disaster struck.

Former Revenue Commissioner Bill Corbus said no one was ever blamed for the incident.

"Everybody felt very bad about it and we all learned a lesson. There was no witch hunt," Corbus said.

According to department staff, they now have a proven and regularly tested backup and restore procedure.

The department is asking lawmakers to approve a supplemental budget request for $220,700 (€165,900) to cover the excess costs incurred during the six-week recovery effort, including about $128,400 (€96,500) in overtime and $71,800 (€54,000) for computer consultants.

The money would come from the permanent fund earnings, the money earmarked for the dividends. That means recipients could find their next check docked by about 37 cents.


Edited by frantique, 23 March 2007 - 10:04 AM.

  • 0

Advertisements


#2
dsenette

dsenette

    Je suis Napol้on!

  • Administrator
  • 26,046 posts
  • MVP
that guy must've been from geeksquad....man you'd think an organization dealing with that much data would check their backup tapes...like...once to see if they work
  • 0

#3
Facedown98

Facedown98

    Trusted Tech

  • Technician
  • 2,989 posts
Ouch. I feel bad for people that made mistakes like that. Ignorance. Sure, it's really his fault, but that's one of those things that totally makes you rethink everything lol
  • 0

#4
Fenor

Fenor

    Trusted Tech

  • Retired Staff
  • 5,236 posts
So THIS is why my monthly severance check was so small this month...

*Fenor cries
  • 0

#5
james_8970

james_8970

    Trusted Tech

  • Retired Staff
  • 5,084 posts

that guy must've been from geeksquad....man you'd think an organization dealing with that much data would check their backup tapes...like...once to see if they work

:whistling: He probably was from geeksquad.

I'm surprised the guy never got fired in the end, or someone for that matter. $38billion is no small amount of cash.
James
  • 0

#6
frantique

frantique

    Member 2k

  • Topic Starter
  • Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,700 posts

$38billion is no small amount of cash.

Nor is $220,700 to fix it!
  • 0

#7
james_8970

james_8970

    Trusted Tech

  • Retired Staff
  • 5,084 posts
Don't know what I'd do if I were in that guys shoes.
James
  • 0

#8
frantique

frantique

    Member 2k

  • Topic Starter
  • Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,700 posts
Hide? And maybe take up sewing? Though I think that the Department needs (and probably has since they say noone was blamed) to accept responsibility for the backups.

they now have a proven and regularly tested backup and restore procedure.

Guess it was a very expensive lesson, however, one which will be ultimately paid for by the investors.
  • 0

#9
james_8970

james_8970

    Trusted Tech

  • Retired Staff
  • 5,084 posts

they now have a proven and regularly tested backup and restore procedure.

Guess it was a very expensive lesson, however, one which will be ultimately paid for by the investors.


As usual we will pay for another's mistake. It was a simple procedure that was simply not done, seems to happen all to often, like a hospital being closed in Canada and management fired because they failed to clean microscopes, scanners and other equipment even after repeated warning by health Canada. Luckily however no infection was spread, but there are 2 hospitals partially closed due to super bugs. It's simple steps that so many people fail to address that cause widespread chaos.
James
  • 0

#10
Dryfter

Dryfter

    Member

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 42 posts
I'm pretty sure there's a way to recover data that's been erased, even after a reformat. And I can bet that it would have been a heck of a lot cheaper than $220,000...

And also. that dude should have had more than one backup tape. I was taught to have like 5 (for different types of backups).
  • 0

#11
james_8970

james_8970

    Trusted Tech

  • Retired Staff
  • 5,084 posts
In this instance there were 2 I believe, while yes there should have been more if they arn't recording information or being constantly updated they are useless no matter how many you have.
Also, information can be recovered once deleted, rarely though after being reformatted. Once information is erased then you beginning writing things onto the hard drive it becomes impossible. Also if it was possible to recover the information, they would have looked at that option long before what they are now forced to do.
The problem with governments is that if its working they don't care, they put no funds towards prevention, all they want to hear is that it'll be working in the present time.
James
  • 0






Similar Topics

0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users

As Featured On:

Microsoft Yahoo BBC MSN PC Magazine Washington Post HP