back to article Flickr thinks again about 4,000 pix loss

Flickr has managed to retrieve the 4,000 pix it deleted yesterday and given the aggrieved photoblogger 25 years of free Flickr membership. Here's the statement: Yahoo! is pleased to share that the Flickr team has fully restored a member’s account that was mistakenly deleted yesterday. We regret the human error that led to the …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Troll

    they were able to retrieve the data

    but they wouldn't have done so unless the customer have managed to get some real attention.

    this is the real worrying part, had the customer not got the attention of the press, would they still have bothered to retrieve his/her lost data? or would have simply said "here is your free membership, now shut up"

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon

      Sir

      I would also have been more impressed if they had rolled out functionality that made it slightly more difficult to delete an account entirely.

      Like starting with disabling access to it for a starters.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. Andrew Moore

    Thaqnk god...

    ...given that the guy did not have a full backup of all the data himself. Maybe he'll learn a valuable lesson from this.

    1. mego

      Actually, he did have a backup of all the photos

      It's the meta content that's more crucial, and not feasible for a user to backup.

    2. Test Man
      FAIL

      He did

      For the last time, he DID have a back up of the photos! That wasn't his concern, it was the comments and URL links that he clearly couldn't recreate.

    3. The Fuzzy Wotnot
      Stop

      Oh not again!

      Does anyone bother to read the articles properly or for that matter anything at all properly, or are we all stuck in Twitter mode, 24 hours a day?

      Nah! Just read the headline, the sub-head, if you're lucky, get half-way through the first paragraph and simply scroll to the end of the article, click comments and vent pompous crap and make yourself look like a total dipstick!

      For the last damn time. HE HAD AN FSCK'ING BACKUP OF THE PICS! What he lacked was the abiity to bring back the comments, links and other meta data that only Flickr held!

      GOT THAT??!?!

    4. Matt Bradley
      Grenade

      An epic demonstration of missing the point

      This is kinda the whole point... and it has sailed right over your head.

      Lets disregard the fact that this user DID have a backup of his photos. That's no the point either.

      The point is that world+dog is talking about could storage and productivity / thin client solutions as replacement for conventional desktop smart client. If this is to have ANY value at all, we have to be able to trust such large cloud providers (such as Yahoo, for example) to properly backup and secure our data. And to restore it quickly when they screw up.

      If they can't, then cloud is ultimately useless.

      FWIW, I can guarantee than any decent cloud provider will have a much more robust and resilient data safety and backup strategy than the overwhelming majority of home users. Furthermore, I'd be prepared to bet that many times more users have lost their photo data from their desktop machines due to disk & backup failure / computer theft, than have ever lost photo data stored on Flickr.

      Yahoo obviously have a decent backup strategy. The only problem is that it took the user to kick up a stink in the public press before they restored that backup. Which is a bit worrying.

    5. Mark 65

      @Andrew Moore

      Are you being facetious or did you miss out making the same poignant but incorrect observation on the original article and had to just get it out there?

      Fuck me dead, it's groundhog day.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Paris Hilton

        So

        did he have a backup or not?

        Paris, derp...

  3. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge
    FAIL

    Eh?

    Surely Yahoo have a comprehensive data backup and restoration capability?

    I am guessing, that like a lot of companies that require a fast time to market of products, that the "backup" was probably tested, but that the "restore" and subsequent disaster recovery elements of their infrastructure were not fully tested prior to implementation and it is these recovery processes that need to be revisited.

    There will be a risk on a risk register archived away somewhere at Yahoo indicating that fully testing data recovery and DR was deemed as low impact compared with the risks of not getting to market on time and budget.

    You'll never be able to see this risk register though as they have now idea how to recover it from the tape archive lol!!!!

    1. jonathanb Silver badge

      Re: Eh?

      I guess they have a data recovery plan to deal with hardware failure, malware, cyber attacks, natural disasters and so on. However most people forget about user error, and that is the most common cause of data loss.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Strokes long beard an croaks...

        Do they? Human error was always top of my risk list, back in my working days?

        Simple reason why: I could do more harm to the system than any other user: it was vital to cover my own backside!

        Don't all of us [ex-]sysadmins recognise that humans are the biggest risk?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I know I was

          I don't know how many times I had to drive into the office to reset something that I changed from home. Usually I'd call operations and let them know to expect calls...sometimes they called me first.

  4. Sarah Davis
    Coat

    yeah, right !

    they only bothered getting it back because of the publicity of this particular case

    as has been covered in the many comments by readers, don't trust anything that is not under your direct control, and even then make at least one back up if it's important data - foolish not to

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It is very good news.

    It should have gone without saying that that they had the ability, and they never, ever should put themselves in the bad publicity that they "enjoyed" yesterday.

    Heads should roll for that, at least.

  6. Smallbrainfield

    In 25 years

    we'll all be brains floating in jars. Hope flickr have learned a lesson from this.

    1. Jerome 0
      Thumb Up

      Captain Cyborg

      Kevin Warwick, is that you?

      1. david wilson

        @Jerome 8

        >>"Kevin Warwick, is that you?"

        Haven't heard about him for a while.

        In fact, I'm not sure I've heard much of him since the hype about his little implant that was supposed to open doors...

        1. JCL
          Happy

          well...

          He probably can't get out of his office.

          1. david wilson

            Note to self:

            Next time, stick up a 'joke alert', rather than relying on a few subtle dots.

  7. Vitani

    25 years?

    The least they could have done is give him free membership for life, although in 25 years will Flickr even be around?

    1. npupp 1

      25 years....

      ... is that not life in the penal sense? ;)

      1. Mirco
        Big Brother

        25 to Life

        I was more worried about the fact, that at the moment I didn't think Yahoo! would make it through the initial 4 years. 25 is actually a stretch to the almost impossible.

        For now, I'm just glad, I've all the photos, comments and links back... well almost. Yahoo! seems like having had some trouble with special characters in the comments and description, so I will have to check them all. But that's not nearly the trouble than having to rebuild all the album and links by hand.

    2. Sarev
      Unhappy

      Come on...

      In today's world, 25 years == infinity.

  8. Dazed and Confused

    will soon be...

    > Flickr will also soon roll out functionality that will allow us to restore deleted accounts more easily in the future.

    No kidding.

    After a few years of operation, we've finally decided that a restore procedure might be useful as well as a backup one. Funny how that happens

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hmmm

    "Flickr will also soon roll out functionality that will allow us to restore deleted accounts more easily in the future."

    So how long until the privacy police are moaning about Flickr keeping people's photos AFTER they have deleted their accounts?

    It's a lose-lose situation!

    1. david wilson

      @Tony Chandler

      >>"So how long until the privacy police are moaning about Flickr keeping people's photos AFTER they have deleted their accounts?"

      True, but who actually listens to them?

    2. The Fuzzy Wotnot
      Thumb Up

      Spot on!

      How about they DON"T accidentally delete the things in the first place by putting proper safeguards in place, like mandatory grace periods for example!

    3. Restricted Access

      RE: Hmmm

      "So how long until the privacy police are moaning about Flickr keeping people's photos AFTER they have deleted their accounts?"

      The privacy police would have less to complain about if someone designed a decent deletion process and explicitly informed users of their data retention policy. But is it really too much to ask that someone creates a system that allows you to delete an account whereby the account gets deactivated for 30 days, logging into the account during this period reactivates the account (thereby cancelling the deletion process), after 30 days of being deactivated all account information is deleted from the active system, after 90 days (or whatever the tape cycle of backups is) the information will no longer be held on the backups, and, most importantly of all, the user is actually informed of all of this during the deletion process.

  10. Mage Silver badge

    Make it easier to restore deleted accounts.

    So they expect to incorrectly delete accounts frequently then.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: So they expect to incorrectly delete accounts frequently then

      Umm, I refer you to the comments that accompanied the previous story, but to summarise...

      They should *expect* to delete accounts often enough that their ability to restore them is vital to preserve their business reputation. On that measure, even "once" is "frequent enough" and it is simply unreasonable to assume that human operators will never make a mistake.

  11. BorkedAgain

    It almost certainly helped.

    I imagine they would still have done it without the meedja attention, but the user would have had to bitch and moan a fair bit.

    More reputable cloud service providers have DR as part of their service but you gets what you pay for. $25/year isn't paying for a lot.

    You can't complain that the cheap-as-chips meal you bought turned out to be chips and not frickin caviar...

    1. Mirco
      Badgers

      It's not a backup service

      Well, I was using Flickr as an online showcase for my friends and people interested in the content. I knew they won't make backups and only uploaded down-scaled versions of my picture, while the original RAWs remained on my personal storage disks.

      Not making backups is not a problem for these services, since data is stored with multiple redundancies. This works fine, if parts of your storage system breaks down. In my case the account had been deleted with all it's data.

      Too bad this happened, but the possiblity of a support staff member being able to do so is the core issue here. In a properly managed company this wouldn't have been possible in the first place.

  12. s. pam
    WTF?

    He's fucked after all

    Don't forget when Flicka gets bought when Yahoo! sheds them that the contract will be nullified so the guy'll never see 25 free years.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: when Flicka gets bought

      Really? A company's legal obligations are wiped clean every time it gets a new owner? Where do you live? I must avoid ever doing business there.

      1. Evil Auditor Silver badge

        @Ken Hagan

        Exactly my thoughts. On the other hand, I do have some dodgy business ideas... So, s. pam, where do you live?!

    2. Richard Gadsden 1
      Boffin

      Only if they go through a liquidation

      I've been done over that way, but only when it went through Chapter 7 on the way.

      Almost any subscription service is technically insolvent, though - they have huge liabilities (obligation to provide future service to paid-up subscribers) and nothing like enough assets to cover them - they will pay the future bills from the subscriptions that come in in the future.

      Tell a magazine that they will get no new subscribers or renewals and ask if they can produce the next year's issues until all the subscriptions run out: if they can't they are insolvent.

      If they do go through Chapter 7 (bankruptcy) then someone can buy all of the assets and none of the liabilities, cancelling all the future subscriptions.

      Anyone remember S&T in 1982?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Backup

    "Flickr will also soon roll out functionality that will allow us to restore deleted accounts more easily in the future."

    ... Will they allow us to back up the whole account to our own storage on eg. S3?

    Doubt it as they'll think it's some commercial risk so just like facebook then are doomed to failure and when we are all running our own cloud servers with P2P social networking on mesh networks they will be long forgotten.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      S3 is "your" storage?

      Pedantic attac: how's different from the point of view of ownership to call S3 "your" storage versus Flickr? Both are cloudy things that are not by any measurements "yours".

      Yes, I know, I know. You were trying to mean "allow us to backup somewhere else that is not Flickr managed". Which is something that I fully agree with.

  14. The Dark Lord

    Reminds me of a line from a movie...

    "Flickr will also soon roll out functionality that will allow us to restore deleted accounts more easily in the future."

    Calls to mind the line from the (otherwise hateful) Broken Arrow: "I don't know what's scarier, losing nuclear weapons, or that it happens so often there's actually a term for it. ".

    Also, on whether "25 years" == "lifetime", then we need to consider whose life is being measured: the 'tog's or Flickr's!

    1. james robertson

      and the other amazing quote from that hateful movie...

      please do not fire the automatic weapons at the THERMONUCLEAR WARHEAD!!!!

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon

        Sir

        "please do not fire the automatic weapons at the THERMONUCLEAR WARHEAD!!!!"

        I never quite got that one, unless he was worried about richochets. How the hell are you supposed to set off a nuclear warhead with a bullet? Does the bullet come fully loaded with an activation key for the device?

        Bit like the diesel 4x4 that Morpheus blew up in the follow up film to The Matrix. Mind you, I wouldn't put it past the yanks to build a 4x4 that was petrol and nitrous injected!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Grenade

          or...

          Depleted U. rounds... ok, well that probably wouldn't work either,

        2. TRT Silver badge
          IT Angle

          OK, slim chance, but...

          you might trigger the conventional explosive that is used to super-compress the fissile material which is what sets off the chain reaction.

          1. BorkedAgain
            Joke

            Maybe

            he just didn't want his shiny new weapons dinged and scratched. I'm like that with new nukes too...

  15. nsld
    FAIL

    They dont need to make it easier to restore

    They need to make it harder to delete in that the process should require more than a phone call and then someone hitting a delete key.

    Front line support should only be able to suspend an account and any deletions should need duplicate approval.

    Even at that stage it should enter an archive holding process for a reasonable period before it gets totally removed. And the client ordering the deletion should get sent the data in a readable format as well, either as a download, ftp or on a disk (suitable encrypted)

    What makes me laugh is that as a SaaS provider thats what we do, why someone like Yahoo/Flickr cant adopt basic best practice for off site storage is laughable given there size and length of time in existence, this isnt exactly rocket science is it.

  16. james robertson
    Megaphone

    why don't they offer a useful function...

    like the ability to download to a local device all of the meta data?!

    tghis would be genuinely useful - so no guessing what a corporate monolith is gonna do...

    1. AbortRetryFail

      re: why don't they offer a useful function...

      The trouble with allowing users to back up their metadata is that, presumably, you'd need a way of allowing them to restore it too. Which could somewhat open the floodgates for people forging comments, feedback, and the like.

      Having said that, in the case of Flickr, it would be damn useful to at least be able to back up the title, description, keywords, tags and people. In other words all the stuff you can enter yourself (as opposed to social stuff like comments and faves that come from other people)

      1. The Dark Lord

        Metadata

        "in the case of Flickr, it would be damn useful to at least be able to back up the title, description, keywords, tags and people."

        The easiest way to do this is with a Digital Asset Management tool (e.g. Aperture, Lightroom, or any number of FOSS alternatives). Tag the image BEFORE upload, not after. Then you've got the metadata stored in your DAM database/the image EXIF/an XMP sidecar (delete as appropriate).

        Hell, you can even do your own geolocation outside of Flickr (using e.g. Geosetter).

      2. GregT
        Happy

        re: why don't they offer a useful function....

        Others have already mentioned that tagging *before* uploading is the best way of ensuring you have your own copy of the most crucial metadata. For the majority that have a lot of stuff uploaded already there are plenty of cheap/free tools (such as Bulkr) out there that can be used after the event to backup your Flickr pics with automatic incorporation of title, description, tags etc into the EXIF data.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Big Brother

      usefull.... maybe....

      But as previously stated over and over, a backup is only a backup if it can be fully restored...

      When it comes to all his linked photos to blogs etc which are based on the URL, then the number that is assigned to the photo to identify it will need to be backed up too so that if it is restored, the URL will be restored too...

      In 25 years can you imagine the size of the numbers used to identify the pictures? i think you will need a total perspective vortex booth to grasp the enormity of the numbers..In all probability they will start to recycle un-used numbers from deleted data.

  17. Rogerborg

    As grown ups figured out many years ago

    "Deleting" an object should usually just mean flagging it as such. Adding storage costs less than losing revenue, and it's better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      That means ...

      ... you need an is_deleted flag on pretty much every single database table. No thanks.

      I move my data to and from a recycling bin these days.

  18. hstiles

    Yeah right.

    The restore functionality was probably always there, it was just too much of an arse for the Flickr admins to carry out a restore procedure and THAT is the fundamental objective many people have to cloud services; Namely that unless you check the T&Cs like a hawk you'll find that there's a loophole that allows them to bung you some free stuff as recompense for deleting a load of your data rather than doing the right thing and restoring it. Sure, you can keep your own backups, but unless this allows you to restore all of the neccesary functionality its intended state, you won't have faith in the solution.

    I appreciate you have to put things in perspective. This is flickr, not hosted corporate e-mail or a CMS, but the principle still applies, when you use hosted or cloud services, yours may be a lone angry voice amongst thousands and your service provider may simply decide that a small rebate on your monthly subscription or some other token gesture is cheaper and easier for them than providing a service over which you have total faith and until that rather significant concern is addressed, there will still be a significant proportion of peopler who will insist on running everything internally.

  19. Adam T

    Cockups happen

    There wouldn't be nearly half as much news if they didn't.

    Doubt Flickr's going to be around 25 years though - or if they are, they'll be part of something else, and the new management will forget all about previous agreements such as this...

    1. Pirate Dave
      Pirate

      more likely

      as interest in Flickr fades over the coming years, they'll eventually make the Pro plan "free" in an attempt to keep somebody, anybody, using to their site. Then, eventually, the site will shutdown.

      And for perspective: 12-14 years ago, who thought Geocities would dry up and shut down?

      1. Lennart Sorensen

        Re: more likely

        Actually, who ever thought Geocities served any purpose? Did it have any business plan for making money? Every page looked like crap, contained practically nothing of value, and was a huge hard to navigate mess.

        1. Pirate Dave
          Pirate

          and

          depending on your point of view, how is that so much different than Flickr? "One man's trash is another man's treasure" seems to apply equally well to both sites. Sure, Flickr has consistent navigation that Geocities lacked, but it's still just huge piles of user-generated stuff sitting on the Internet.

        2. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Restricted Access
      FAIL

      RE: Cockups happen

      "the new management will forget all about previous agreements such as this..."

      What is there to forget? It's not like there will be a Post-it on someone's desk reminding them to extend this guy's subscription each year. All they would have done is fired off a one-off database query that basically looked like this:

      UPDATE users SET membership_expiry_date = (current_timestamp + interval '25 years') WHERE username = "bindermichi";

      Nothing more needs to be done.

      If Flickr did become part of something else it would just merge the membership expiry dates of existing customers into the new system.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Happy

        RE: Cockups happen (restricted access)

        Given this farce it was probably more like:

        UPDATE users SET membership_expiry_date = (current_timestamp + interval '25 years') WHERE username = "thewronguser";

        oops crap! umm, can't give that user 25 years!

        DELETE FROM users WHERE username = "bindermichi";

        ah much better, oh wait... umm

        email, "sorry again"

        p.s. we're very sad

      2. Mirco
        Pint

        Expiration Date

        Actually they just upped the expiration date from 2011 to 2015 after the first offer and to 2036 in the second, so there's no way to forget that :)

  20. Doug Glass
    Go

    Didn't one of you Britishers once say ...

    ... "Much ado about nothing" or words to that effect? Seems to fit here.

    1. Matt Bradley
      WTF?

      That would be William Shakespeare

      And it was the name of a play.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Much_Ado_About_Nothing

      :P

  21. kain preacher

    $5

    For an extra $5 a month we will promise not to acidentaly delete your account, except for when we do.

  22. tony trolle

    New El Reg unit of measurement ?

    25 years = Flickr lifetime ?

  23. Dylan Fahey
    Paris Hilton

    Thumbs up to Flucker, I mean flickr!

    Thumbs up to Flucker, I mean flickr!

    For Paris, how come my photo's never get deleted?

  24. Doug Glass
    Go

    Trustworthy Services

    So their initial frame of mind was to pi$$ on the poor user and remain silent on their ability to make him whole again. Must have been their lunch hour when they made their first statement ... more interested in filling their belly. And now, only since they been made to look like fools and worthless money grubbers have they decided to take some of their precious time and restore his data.

    And there are people out there who still think these moronic gutless wonders should be trusted with their data? Oh, this disaster in the making is really going to be fun to watch. Not to mention the hapless users who go down in flames and then display their stupidity to the world.

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