Bookmarking Service Ma.gnolia Suffers Massive Outage, Data Lost

15 Comments

magnolia

Matt Cox points out that Ma.gnolia, a bookmarking service, may have lost all the data (bookmarks) curated by its customers. The situation seems pretty dire.

15 Comments

Joseph Dunphy

Before we string up Larry, I would ask people to ponder this thought: it is possible to win the lottery twice.

When we say that a system is “reliable”, we do not mean that it is impossible for that system to fail. No such system ever has been built, and none probably ever will be built. What we mean is that failure is a very, very improbable event.

But just like with the lottery, the occurence of one highly improbable event does not render the occurence of the next highly improbable event impossible, or even more improbable. So has it occured to people that maybe Ma.gnolia just got really, really unlucky and had their backup system fail just as it was needed?

Is it a good idea to dismiss a service just because the dice rolled in a bad way? Especially when it is a service that has offered a level of functionality not matched by most of its competitors, and an administration that, as far as this relatively new user can tell, seems to be friendly and genuinely concerned with its user base? Anybody who has been on the Internet for a while knows that last part is far from being a given when one does business with a new service; if anything, a combination of screaming, borderline psychotic arrogance and mindboggling idiocy seems to be more the norm in the industry. Things could be be worse, and have been at companies that are still with us, so why not give these guys a break?

As for lost data, while I do sympathise with those who might have lost large amounts of work, and hope that they haven’t, I would remind them that if there were any foulups, they weren’t Ma.gnolia’s alone. Aren’t we all aware of the need to keep backups of our work on our own hard drives? Granted, that isn’t always feasible with all services (e-mail services come to mind), but what would keep a user of Ma.gnolia or some other bookmarking service from keeping a copy of his bookmarks on his own computer? Or from downloading copies of pages on the site into a subdirectory on his own computer, so that he could cut and paste copies of his own commentary back onto the site, should the worst happen at their end?

These are all things that even the newest of users know that they should be doing. If some of those who are maybe out in the cold right now didn’t do so, whose fault is that?

madison

Nobody would be dumb enough to not have a reliable backup! Their whole business model is based on retaining user -generated information. I can’t imagine that they would lose more than a day or two’s worth of data.

Screen Sleuth

If it’s just a day or so and they recover nearly everything, not that huge. If large amounts of data (or all of it) is lost, the site is done. That’s what it boils down to, IMHO.

Bosco Pereira

Unfortunately, Whack Pow and Erica are both correct. Magnolia needs to do some serious internal reviews. It would be catastrophic if a rapid (shallow and superficial) recovery is made only to be followed by another outage/corruption incident.

Magnolis, use your PR people to help you with lucid thinking!

Erica

A shining example of why good ops and security folks are worth their weight in gold. Do NOT trust your hosting company to do your backups.

-Erica

Matt

I have a lot more confidence in a service (like Github) which openly says they back things up to Amazon S3, because then I know as a failsafe there is something external and 100% reliable that can save you when the worst case scenario happens.

g

Shit happens. The measure of an organization is not merely taken by the ways in which they fail, but more importantly in how they respond to it.

If they’re prepared and up to the task, they’ll be back online in a couple hours with minimal loss.

Whack Pow

A professional entity in this day and age that’s handling customer data that doesn’t have a =reliable= backup is not professional.

A.B. Dada

It’s times like this when I have to sit back and confirm all my web data backups, including MySQL databases. Ugh.

Hope they weren’t relying on RAID alone.

Jeffrey

To be fair, what they’re saying seems to imply that they’ll restore from backups, so will lose some data but not all. (If they really lost all their data then there would be no point in executing a recovery plan.)

Unless the backups themselves are corrupted or are otherwise non-functional, in which case that’s it. But they haven’t said this yet.

I’m pretty bummed about this. I have thousands of links in ma.gnolia.

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