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PlusNet admits customer emails are lost forever

But don't worry half of it was spam anyway...

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PlusNet has today admitted that it will not be able to restore 700GB of lost customer emails. Never. Ever.

A PlusNet engineer accidentally deleted the emails on Sunday 9 July and the company has been struggling to restore them ever since.

That struggle is now over.

The PlusNet site explains why it has taken so long to (not) sort things out. The screw-up involved a Sun NAS device which runs on StorageTek's proprietary operating system which meant data recovery experts had to alter the tools they usually use.

Other than the weird operating system it said the biggest problem was caused by the unfortunate engineer's first attempt to fix the original mistake.

The engineer tried to recover the data by creating a volume of the same size, and in the same place, as the first volume - "an old sysadmin trick", PlusNet tells us. But the system uses the first volume to create a master inode - essentially a map of where all the other data is kept. Because this was deleted, finding the rest of the data in the second and third volumes is very difficult.

They did get some information back from these other volumes but without the master inode it is all but impossible to tell which emails belong to who.

Within three hours the Sun NAS was on its way to data recovery specialists.

A statement on the PlusNet website claims that half of the email was spam and that 48 per cent of it had already been read - leaving just one or two per cent of actual deleted unread email.

PlusNet is now getting its Sun kit back so it get on with setting up a new email storage system.

Here is the explanation from PlusNet. There is a more technical description of what went wrong on ADSLguide here. ®

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