Why back up? Ask JournalSpace.


When your managers ask you that question, point them to the sad story of JournalSpace.com. The company evaporated on December 30, 2008 because they didn’t have a backup.

They were relying on their RAID drive mirrors to keep their data safe, but that only protects you from hard drive failures – not from application errors or server errors or heaven forbid, malicious users who delete data.

JournalSpace Closes Up Shop

Slashdot story covering JournalSpace

In case JournalSpace takes down their page about the issue, I’ve mirrored the text in my full blog entry – hit Continue Reading to read it.


Journalspace is no more.

DriveSavers called today to inform me that the data was unrecoverable.

Here is what happened: the server which held the journalspace data had two large drives in a RAID configuration. As data is written (such as saving an item to the database), it’s automatically copied to both drives, as a backup mechanism.

The value of such a setup is that if one drive fails, the server keeps running, using the remaining drive. Since the remaining drive has a copy of the data on the other drive, the data is intact. The administrator simply replaces the drive that’s gone bad, and the server is back to operating with two redundant drives.

But that’s not what happened here. There was no hardware failure. Both drives are operating fine; DriveSavers had no problem in making images of the drives. The data was simply gone. Overwritten.

The data server had only one purpose: maintaining the journalspace database. There were no other web sites or processes running on the server, and it would be impossible for a software bug in journalspace to overwrite the drives, sector by sector.

The list of potential causes for this disaster is a short one. It includes a catastrophic failure by the operating system (OS X Server, in case you’re interested), or a deliberate effort. A disgruntled member of the Lagomorphics team sabotaged some key servers several months ago after he was caught stealing from the company; as awful as the thought is, we can’t rule out the possibility of additional sabotage.

But, clearly, we failed to take the steps to prevent this from happening. And for that we are very sorry.

So, after nearly six years, journalspace is no more.

If you haven’t yet, visit Dorrie’s Fun Forum; it’s operated by a long-time journalspace member. If you’re continuing your blog elsewhere, you can post the URL there so people can keep up with you.

We’re considering releasing the journalspace source code to the open source community. We may also sell the journalspace domain and trademarks. Follow us on twitter at twitter.com/jsupgrades for news.

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9 Comments. Leave new

  • Brent, remember when you told me months ago that I should buy my own URL and hosting service for my blog. Praise Zod, that I took your advice and did not host it there.

    • HAHAHA, true – but then, are you doing backups of your blog to your local machine? There's a WordPress plugin that will automatically email them to you, but you only wanna do that if you're using something like GMail with its stupendously large email quotas.

  • Six years lost in mere moments. I cannot imagine the feelings in their stomachs when this news came to them.

  • How sad to lose the company on one of the most basic of IT functions.

  • Actually, the worse has yet to be noticed by Slashdot/other tech sites:

    In 2006:


    “Early Friday morning, a hard drive in the main server that hosts the live Journalspace site experienced a hardware failure. We have worked around the clock to fix the problem, and restore our members’ data from a recent backup. However, due to the nature of this failure, some of our backup was also corrupted.”

    In other words, 2 1/2 years ago, they nearly bit the dust, and they didn’t learn their lesson then.


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