The Backup that Bit Back

Saturday, December 11th, 2004 at 5:17 am | 420 views | trackback url

I’m a big fan of rsync, and I use it religiously to back up my data on several machines in parallel. I tend to lose data often, due to odd, unexplained hardware failures. I’ve been using rsync for years, and I know it inside and out. I’ve spoken at LUG meetings about rsync, tricks, tips, and how to use it for more than just backups. The point is, I’m not exactly “green” when using rsync.

I maintain a local mirror of Gutenberg etexts for a local project and my own use. I normally refresh it weekly with an rsync script. The 149GiB mirror of Gutenberg sits in my home directory, under a directory called “Gutenberg”.

After not sleeping well for about two weeks with the pressure of potentially-overdue client deliverables, I’ve been very “foggy” lately, not thinking straight, not as creative as I normally am.

I finished two large client deliverables tonight (3:00am), and decided to spark off the Gutenberg script to top off my mirror. I ran the mirroring script in my home directory. The script includes a –delete argument, which allows any local files which no longer exist in the remote Gutenberg repository, to be deleted.

Let me say that again… I ran this script from my home directory.

After about 20 minutes of churning, I decided to check my mail one last time before I went to bed. “How odd”, I thought, I can’t open a shell. I tried a root shell. Same story. I tried opening any other app, nothing. I had keyboard, just no ability to launch any applications or shells from the GUI.

I forcibly exited out of X, and looked to see if my profile was corrupted or something.. and did an ‘ls’ in my home directory. It was blank. Empty. Devoid of about 18gb of data + my Gutenberg mirror. Gone.

I do have a fairly recent backup of my home directory, a week old, and I did manage to back up my mail and documents on the 9th, so I only lost 2 days of mail, at most. Its still several hundred useful messages, but thats better than losing 8 years of mail archives that I use daily.

The reason this all screwed up, was because I deliriously ran the Gutenberg mirror script from my home directory, not from the Gutenberg directory inside my home directory. Ugh.

I hate data loss, and I need more sleep.

Last Modified: Saturday, December 11th, 2004 @ 05:17

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