Have you heard the tale of Marco Marsala?
Recently, Marco posted to an internet forum that he had accidentally run a particular line of code - “rm -rf” - on his computer. To understand the importance of that, let's break down the function of that command.
The “rm” means “remove.” The second “r” tells the computer to delete everything in a directory. The “f” means “force” or, in other words, “ignore any warnings and just delete the files, already!”
Unfortunately, Marco didn't specify a folder to run this command on, so it deleted everything on his computer.
That was bad enough but to make matters worse, Marco runs a web design and hosting company with more than 1,500 clients. Normally, the error wouldn't be a problem because most people host files remotely. But as Marco explained, the server and the back-up drives were mounted to the computer when he ran the code.
In his own words: All servers got deleted and the offsite back-ups, too, because the remote storage was mounted just before by the same script (that is a backup maintenance script).
Translation: Marco deleted the websites of his 1,500-plus clients.
Advice on the forum wasn't very encouraging either.
“Your company is now essentially dead,” wrote one responder. Some people had a few things he could try but the overall consensus was that he and his clients were out of luck - the files were not recoverable.
“You don't need advice,” another forum user told him. “You need a lawyer.”
That whole episode above? It's a lie.
Well, not all of it. A person named Marco Marsala did post to an internet forum that he had nuked his computer and server using the command but a few days after it was posted, Marco claimed it had been some sort of viral marketing
Although Oscar Wilde famously said, The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about, I can't for the life of me see any benefit in being known as the company that lost 1,500 websites with no hope of recovery due to poorly thought-out infrastructure and carelessness.
Maybe the idea was to say, “Oh, hey, I did find a way to recover all that lost stuff, and my company is so awesome that we can throw every file we manage into a trashcan and light them on fire and still keep everything up and running!” That still doesn't make any sense to me, however.
But I digress.
While the scenario our intrepid internet marketer outlined is in fact farfetched and unlikely to happen, data loss is a serious problem for any business.
Consider these statistics:
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