Candidate for biggest PR nightmare of the year: the SaaS back-up company that lost data for 7,500 of its customers – see the full article for details
Here’s a tough question: how do you balance the value of a problematic lawsuit against a vendor against the potential damage to your company’s reputation? Executives from Carbonite Inc. may be pondering that calculus this morning amid disclosures that the fast-growing online backup company lost data belonging to 7,500 customers.
I would like to make sure that your readers understand two points with regard to Carbonite’s lawsuit against Promise Technologies:
1) This event happened over a year ago. We do not say this to minimize the matter. But we do want to point out that this has not happened in a long time and is not an ongoing problem.
2) The total number of Carbonite customers who were unable to retrieve their data was 54, not 7,500.
Here is what happened: The Promise servers that we were purchasing in 2006 and 2007 use RAID technology to spread data redundantly across 15 disk drives so that if any one disk drive fails, you don't lose any data. The RAID software that makes all this work is embedded as "firmware" in the storage servers. In this case, we believe that the firmware on the servers had bugs that caused the servers to crash. Carbonite automatically restarted all 7,500 backups and more than 99% of these were completely restored without incident. Statistically, about 2 out of every 1,000 consumer hard drives will crash every week, so 54 of these customers had their PCs crash before their re-started backups were complete. Since they weren’t completely backed up when their PCs crashed, these customers were unable to restore all of their files from Carbonite. Most of the 54 got some or most of their data back. We took full responsibility for what happened and I did my best to call each of these customers personally to apologize.
As a result of our problems with the Promise servers, we switched to a popular Dell server that uses RAID6 – an improved RAID that allows for the loss of 3 of the 15 drives simultaneously before you lose any data. This configuration is in theory 36 million times more reliable than a single disk drive — the chances of 3 out of 15 drives failing at the same time are almost nil.
So far, Promise has refused to accept responsibility for their equipment’s failures, so now we are suing them to get our money back. The Dell RAID servers have been flawless and we're extremely happy with them.
Dave Friend, CEO
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