Island Life by David Slack

Daily routine: do backup, iron underpants

April 3. Book deadline looms, writer finds quiet refuge in inner city apartment. Harbour views. Gym two blocks away. Ferry within six minutes walk. Very fine sushi bar on far side of Hobson Street. No deadline worries now.

April 4. Web server hosting writer's online business crashes with extreme prejudice. Writer's online business wiped off face of Internet in 30 seconds.

Writer establishes in terse exchange with web host in Kentucky that backups have not been performed. Writer learns, as vague knot develops in pit of stomach, that backups are automatic with the shared server option, but optional with the dedicated server option. Writer upgraded to dedicated server three years ago. Failed to tick box for optional backups. Writer berates self for characteristic failure to pay attention to small details in his business dealings. Self-beratement yields nothing by way of bringing business back online.

Writer now checks laptop for backup material. Web page coding backups exist, copy of database backup does not. Sweat forms on brow of writer. In absence of database backup, online business possesses equivalent of car body with no engine. Online business keeps writer's family in comfort to which they have all become happily accustomed. Absence of such comforts might well make re-creation of business long and bitter experience. Only hope now lies with three PCs at home. One had a hard drive crash three months ago. There will be nothing there. One needed an OS reinstall late last year. Writer cannot recall backing up database to that one since. Sole remaining PC therefore only hope, if apologetic support staff in Kentucky fail to retrieve writer's arse from fire.

Apologetic support staff in Kentucky confident of retrieving database from smoking hard drive. Panic may be premature. Writer nonetheless keeps wary distance from window of sixteenth floor apartment. Hours pass; emails and phone calls fly up and down wires from Altitude Apartments, Auckland to, Lexington Kentucky.

Succeeding messages not dissimilar both in discouraging content and eternally hopeful style to those seen being delivered to quivering Fuehrer in his Berlin bunker in excellent movie Downfall.

Writer returns home at dinner time, with little appetite. Boots up last-hope PC with trepidation. Database backup is extant, but pretty damn stale. August 2004. 18 months of subscriber details therefore not accessible. Will be possible to open up shop, but nightmare still likely if subscriber details not accounted for.

Perfect technology storm has converged: writer has made pig of self in preceding month using Bit Torrent to catch up with movie or two. Has consequently, for first time, had lightning-fast internet connection rate-limited by Wired Country and thus has only dial up speed with which to upload mammoth backup database file.

Writer returns to apartment to use laptop to upload file using faster access available through Telecom hotspot service. Login fails using mobile broadband account. Spends 45 minutes on hold listening to execrable Natures Best cd. At 46th minute Sanjev asks how he can help. Ten minutes now elapse as he demonstrates inability to do so. Access still not possible, and laptop battery now fading.

Writer abandons attempt, checks to see if apologetic support staff have had any joy retrieving database from broken drive. Answer: yes! Writer tries to attach database without success. Invites apologetic support staff in Kentucky to have a bloody go. Apologetic support staff in Kentucky agree: cannot be re-attached. File may be corrupt. Database administrator may be able to help.

Night passes, messages continue. Writer finds apartment less agreeable for overnight stay than initially anticipated. Sleeps only a short time through the night, rising to check email and make calls. Berlin falls at daybreak with email from database administrator:


I was able to recover your database and bring it back online. However, the database is so corrupt I can not access any of the data. In your situation the recovery tools on the market will not work.

However, you may want to look at hiring a data recovery consultant to see if they can recover your data. I have never worked with anyone who does this so I can not make a recommendation. However, I believe that an internet search brings up several firms who offer this service.

Thank you

Database Administrator
Maximum ASP

Writer looks bleakly out window as sun rises. Registers only the grey in the sky. Thinks for a moment or two, then begins search for data recovery consultant. Settles on one in Auckland, one in Toronto, and one in Dallas. Auckland tries for day and fails. Toronto tries and fails. Dallas spends two days analysing database and then reports:

The engineer has found that the database is corrupted due to RAID rebuild. The table must be manually scavenged for all possible records. The table had over 36,000 records, so we should get the majority back.

Sky looks less grey. Writer sets to work resurrecting site on temporary basis, helping subscribers into temporary accounts as they make contact. Writer relives all coding corrections of past three years as aged coding shows its gaps.

Life returns slowly to normal. Two weeks pass. Dallas sends an Easter email: the records are back. Writer reinstates subscriber details. Breathes out.

For all your data crises large and small, the writer wholeheartedly and unreservedly recommends They're in Dallas. The writer has also ticked the relevant box at

Book going well; blogging likely to remain sporadic for a week or two.