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5 high profile stories of lost content that will make you shudder

It’s easier than ever to save and store huge amounts of content. But ironically, it’s also easier than ever to lose your precious content. One click can delete so much!

Of course it couldn’t happen to you. Or could it?

It won’t happen to me syndrome has a scientific name: ‘Optimism Bias’. Research suggests that it is incredibly common, affecting about 80% of people. (ScienceDirect)

Here are some stories that will make you re-think your natural optimism.

5 stories, 5 ways your content is at risk…

1. Hacking: HBO

In August, hackers breached HBO servers leaking unreleased shows, scripts and sensitive documents. Just one week later they wrote with a ransom demand and released more leaks.

When it rains it pours. In a separate incident, a whole Game of Thrones episode was leaked, this time from a third party with access to the content.

On top of these leaks, the HBO twitter account was hacked. There’s a tendency for hackers to respond like sharks in a feeding frenzy at the smell of blood.

And to make it worse, HBO Spain released another Game of Thrones episode early. Ooops! (Wired)

But HBO are not alone. Netflix and Disney have also fought off ransom demands from hackers this year.

2. Ransomware: Advertising giant WPP hit

WPP was one of many global companies hit by the Notpetya ransomware, which spread from Ukraine at the end of June. (About a month after the infamous WannaCry worm locked staff out of NHS computers.)

It took 7 to 10 days to return to business as normal. The estimated cost was up to £15m before insurance. (The Drum)

Cyber attacks are no longer the exception. The ABS reports that in 2015/16 more than two thirds of businesses in the Information media and telecommunication industry experienced internet security incidents or breaches. (ABS 2015/16)

Ask yourself, how valuable is your content to you?

 3. Losing digital storage devices: Bitcoin

Campbell Simpson, Editor of Gizmodo Australia, bought 1400 Bitcoins out of curiosity in 2010. About $25 worth.

At the time, he didn’t trust any online service not to crash and lose his investment. So he saved the Bitcoin in an offline file stored on a hard drive. After moving house, he had a clean out and threw the hard drive away.

He had forgotten about the Bitcoin. But as it increased in value, he remembered. As of 15/8/17 it would be worth about $7.6 million. (Gizmodo)

Further evidence to support our distrust of hard drives for long-term storage!

4. Accidental deletion + untested backups: Toy Story 2

Back in 1998, a perfect storm of events nearly wiped out Pixar’s Toy Story 2.

Toy Story 2 nearly completely deleted During production, a team member accidentally applied a delete command to the root folder where all the project files were kept. By the time the problem was discovered, 90% of the data was gone.

So the team turned to their backups, only to find they hadn’t been working. 2 months and hundreds of hours of work were gone.

Toy Story 2 was recovered by pure chance. One of the team had been working from home, and had an older copy of the project stored locally. Luckily, they were able to piece the project together again. (TheNextWeb)

The lesson: an untested backup is not a backup. Never assume you will be able to restore.

 5. Deliberate deletion: Original Apollo 11 moon landing footage

A story from the pre-digital data capture era shows that technology is not the only problem. For NASA, it was inadequate management processes and budget constraints which led to the loss of the original Apollo 11 moon landing footage.

NASA didn't think they would need those old moon landing tapes NASA engineers never viewed the original footage captured in Parkes, Australia. It took them years to realise that it was of a much higher quality than the live broadcast. By then, the magnetic tape had been sent back to NASA and degaussed, magnetically erased and re-used. To save money. (ReutersWired)

In a true case of you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone, some of the most unique content of the 20th century was lost without a trace.



Why did we share these examples? Discussing real-life stories of loss has more impact than just sharing best practices. Fighting against optimism bias isn’t sexy. We’ve been professing best practices for more than 35 years.

The most important takeaway is to realise that content loss is real and that it can happen to any company no matter how big or small.

No one method of content protection can completely remove risk, but each reduces risk.

For example, Preferred Media can’t protect you from ransomware or hacking. But we can make sure you have your content backed up. And our strong processes and double redundancy LTO mean we can get your content back for you, if you lose or delete it.

So what should you do to protect your content?

  1. The first step is to create a plan.
  2. Then review it regularly.
  3. Always test backups.
  4. Use metadata to adequately identify your content.
  5. Don’t think technology makes things better or safer. Ransomware is a new and uniquely dangerous threat. And we all know that failing tech can leave you even more helpless than if you’d never used it. Just ask anyone who’s Google Maps fail on the way to a job interview.
  6. Don’t focus your plan entirely on technology. The old culprits of mismanagement, obsolescence and degradation are less dramatic, but still remain major threats to content.
  7. Talk to Preferred Media!


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