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Post-outage King's College London orders staff to never make their own backups

Trust us. It's not like we had a fortnight-long... um. Trust us

Broken cables, photo via Shutterstock
Photo via Shutterstock

Exclusive Despite losing a lot of user data from shared folders in October's mega-outage, King's College London is asking staff not to save work independently of the university's IT facilities.

A month ago, departments across the university suffered "irretrievable data loss" when a 3PAR's one-fault-tolerant RAID Array kicked the bucket. Almost every system at the university, from payroll to shared drive access, went down in the TITSUP — total inability to support usual performance.

A week later the issue was still interrupting business, and continued to do so a fortnight post-borkage.

"There will be lessons to be learnt from this incident," was the refrain of an apologetic CIO, Nick Leake, whose emails to staff were seen by The Register.

Unfortunately, those lessons don't seem to have extended to the value of independent backups, which have saved an awful lot of expensive research from being written off, because they are being prohibited by institution.

Another email on Monday, also seen by The Register, implored staff to "not save work independently on personal devices, or any other purchased storage services" warning that they may not have suitable backups in place, or could be a risk to the security of information.

One staffer at KCL complained to us about the condescending attitude of Dr Ian Tebbett, senior veep of operations, and noted the lack of technical information regarding the university's new backup system, which considering recent events could only provoke further mistrust.

Responding to The Register's enquiries, a KCL spokesperson said:

Virtually all our systems have been restored following the recent IT outage. As the shared drives have been made available to users, we have been working with them to identify any issues and this process is ongoing. The shared drives have been installed on new infrastructure and their backup is on new technology. We are encouraging users to save data according to normal King's practice.

Tebbett's email reiterated to staff that an "independent external review" will be conducted of the incident once staff have "the full picture" regarding recovery of the final shared drives.

"This will include a thorough review of the causes of the outage and the full implications and business impact across the university," Tebbet wrote. "I envisage this taking six to eight weeks from its start. We will share the recommendations and our response to them once the investigation is complete." ®

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