On data lost and website crashes

June 6, the Ledger website went offline. After a week of frantic scrambling, it was determined that there had been a critical failure, though the cause and scope were undetermined. The website resurfaced, but so much was missing that it no longer resembled the Ledger. Theories were thrown around, but none made sense until Student Publications Manager Daniel Nash contacted our web hosting. The answer then became clear at that point: our data had been deleted when our host changed servers. A routine purge.

Six years of data were lost, and two years are now permanently gone. Poof!

This happened, not because of malice or ignorance, but because of apathy. Furthermore, it was not apathy on the part of our hosting; we on the web staff knew that our hosted data allotment was limited. When I took the position of Web Manager, I was briefed on our web hosting and data management techniques. I knew it was precarious at best, but did not act because I had believed there would be time to do so in the future. I never knew how much was stored in temporary hosting. I was careless with the data I was entrusted with.

Here at the Ledger, we value keeping all Huskies informed and up to date on what is happening on campus. As it would happen, this includes what is happening in a remote server farm. I had trusted something I had not verified. I knew better, and it should not have happened.

Changes to data management have taken place and, assuming that Murphy’s Law does not take this as a dare, we will not be seeing any other major crashes.

I am not telling all of you this because I believe myself to be a poor Web Manager; I am telling you this so you do not make similar mistakes. Please, be mindful of how you host your data. Be it selfies or Capstone projects, it is important to backup your files. As UWT students, we all have access to storage on the H drive (which also allows you to access your data remotely), but I would suggest going further. Consider physical storage methods such as flash drives or external hard drives. Be sure to backup your work on at least one other location, no matter what.

As the school year starts, I am still working to get the Ledger back up to speed. Don’t let your year end up the same.


Mary Fitzgerald

Mary Fitzgerald is the web manager for the Tacoma Ledger, and a junior studying computer science. Most days she can be found on campus in the development labs or in the TLC. Mary aspires to use her degree to make technology accessible and sustainable.