Ma.gnolia: To.ast?

By  |  Friday, January 30, 2009 at 4:49 pm

As Wired’s Epicenter blog is reporting, users of the venerable social bookmarking service Ma.gnolia are getting an ominous message from founder Larry Halff when they head to the site today:


Service disruptions aren’t shockers (even when they involve companies far larger than Ma.gnolia). Permanent data loss, however, is not so common–but it’s what Halff seems to be preparing users for the possibility of. There are no details yet as to what happened, or why Ma.gnolia can’t just restore a backup to give users their bookmarks back; I’m not even sure if Ma.gnolia knows. But for the sake of the service and its users, I hope that it recovers and that all data is recovered.

I’m not a Ma.gnolia user, but I have an awful lot of important stuff salted around the Web at services large and small: Google Docs, Zoho, Remember the Milk, Apple’s MobileMe, my various finance-related accounts, and a whole lot more. If any of it went offline for hours at a time when I needed it, it would be inconvenient; if it just disappeared, it could be a major pain. (But not a total catastrophe: I have digital or paper backups of any information that’s essential and irreplaceable. I think.)

Here’s a grim prediction: At some point, some big-name Web service with a lot more users than Ma.gnolia will crash just as spectacularly as it did today, and it’ll turn out that its backup practices were a lot less conscientious (or at least foolproof) than everybody assumed. I hope I’m wrong, but I wouldn’t bet against my instinct in this case…


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2 Comments For This Post

  1. Randy Says:

    I think the message is, if you are going to have outages, let the users know you are not 100% reliable.

  2. sys admin Says:

    Y’know, most places don’t have decent backups. They go for some SAN or RAID array. The only real backup is 1:1 offsite with a nightly rsync cron job. Oh, and make sure that the backup is pulled from another server that is not visible on the web, don’t push the backup or the bad guy can erase your primary data store and your backup. Oh, and have a 3rd backup in another city.

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