Executive Corner

What Can Buzz Lightyear Teach Us About Backing Up?

If your data is your livelihood, watch this and learn about the time Toy Story 2 disappeared:


It’s a teaser for a longer story on the Toy Story 2 DVD, which I watched with my son this weekend. It starts:

“When making a film like Toy Story 2, we use a bunch of UNIX and Linux machines. On those kinds of machines there’s a command, RM*, that removes everything on the filesystem as fast as it can.”

“Somebody had run RM* on the drive where all the Toy Story 2 files were kept, and things just started to disappear.”

After the teaser, the story goes on to describe how their backups for the past two months had been corrupt, and that the work on the film from the past two years was just gone. Freaking out, they started putting together a plan to push the film back an entire year to try to keep from having to scrap it altogether.

But Galyn Susman, visual arts director at Pixar, came to the rescue. She had just had a baby, and in order to spend time with her newborn had set up a system she could work on from home. She brought with her a copy of the film. The ONLY copy of the film.

My wife calls this story a lesson about how cool new moms are. I say it’s a reminder that if your data is important you can never have enough backups.

Imagine that for moment. Imagine everything you had worked for, months even years worth of data, literally disappearing in front of you. This happens to countless people everyday and it really underscores the fragility of our data. A few unfortunate keystrokes and Pixar, one of the most respected and lucrative animation studios in the world, nearly lost a Golden Globe winning film to the ether.

At ServInt we back up our clients’ files for free, automatically, on every product we sell on our website. Our backup service is awesome – it is reliable and robust and I think it’s an Industry-leading service. But if anybody tells you that ANY backup is 100% reliable 100% of the time, call them a liar and run away from them immediately.

If your data is critical to your livelihood, you can NEVER have enough backups. Go ask Pixar. Then go watch Toy Story 2 or some other Pixar movie. They are all awesome – and at least one survived to be seen because of backups.

Photo by Alex Buhrmann

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  1. [...] a special feature on the DVD — and suddenly it’s all over the place, though the story goes back to at least 2010. It’s a teaser for a longer story on the Toy Story 2 DVD, which I watched with my son this [...]
    ‘Toy Story 2′ Lost Its Backup, Too - Yottabytes: Storage and Disaster Recovery /
  2. Congrats on 6 years with ServInt! I am so glad to hear you have such an 'anal' backup strategy. Why wouldn't you? It's your business! Your livelihood! Very, very smart. Had Toy Story 2 been delayed or cancelled, the RM* guy would have become infamous and would never have been able to live it down. Even though it all worked out alright, I still feel bad for the guy, whoever he is.
  3. A question: Who would have felt worse? The person that ran RM* or Gray Powell? In this case, had there not been a backup... I'd venture to say the RM* person would win hands down. (I can hear The Donald now.... "You're Fired!")
    Rob Ludlow /
  4. Just a few days ago I passed my 6 year anniversary with ServInt. In all those years I've been very fortunate to never have a catastrophic hardware failure (knock wood) that forced me to rely on ServInt's great backup system. Of course though there were plenty of times where human my errors required me to call the NOC and/or submit a ticket to get some files or a database restored. Each time I got a quick response and the files I needed restored and I was back in action! Well, even though I have a ton of confidence in ServInt's backup systems, nothing is 100%, so every night I backup all my key databases to a completely different off-site server. In fact, I'm so anal about it that I documented how I have up to 7 different copies of each day's backups in multiple locations all over the world: http://www.nifty-stuff.com/daily-mysql-database-backup.php So, the moral of this story: ServInt's backup system rocks, but you never want to have all your eggs in one basket... no matter how totally awesome and stable that basket is.
    Rob Ludlow /
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