A scary reminder to back up your data…

by Sally J.

in * How to PRESERVE Family History Treasures, Free Articles / Blog


Wired News – AP News

  • Software error at Charter Communications deletes 14,000 email accounts.
  • No chance of recovery
  • (except for data backed up by customers)

“There is no way to retrieve the messages, photos and other attachments that were erased from inboxes and archive folders across the country on Monday, said Anita Lamont, a spokeswoman for the suburban St. Louis-based company.” (Read the whole article on Wired News.)

Promise me you’ll back up your emails this weekend, OK?

Travis LeMaster September 17, 2008 at 12:29 am

It would be horrible to have everything deleted like that. I’ve known the pain of data loss.

I enjoy reading your blog, and have “tagged” you with the “I Heart Your Blog” award. You can read about it at my tjlgenes blog.


Seth January 30, 2008 at 9:54 pm

@Myrtle: Enter IMAP. IMAP, to over simplify, is an access protocol supported by most email providers which, unlike POP, can keep a copy of your email both on your computer and on the server allowing both the power of a desktop email client and the use of the webmail tool when necessary.

How the emails are kept on your computer depends on your client (Thunderbird, Outlook, etc). Most of these clients only download the headers (sender, time, subject, etc) until you specifically ask to see the message. Others allow you pro-actively download everything as it becomes available. (Pros & Cons to both, but select the latter if you have a good internet connection and are concerned about having a copy of everything).

Note 1: Even though you can leave all your email on both the server and keep a copy on your computer many email providers place limits on how much you keep. So, do occasionally move email you know you won’t need during travel exclusively onto your computer to save account space.

Note 2: Although I list Outlook as a possible IMAP compatible email client please don’t use it. Outlook stores email in a locked down file format (PST) while most others use MBOX or EML which, although not very accessible to the untrained, are plain-text files and much easier to preserve.

Sally J. January 30, 2008 at 3:13 am

@Bill – Those who were hit the hardest were the customers who only read their email online. Anything downloaded to your own computer would survive this sort of blunder…but your account would still be deleted and the email address dead. Oy!

@Myrt – I don’t know of the perfect solution. It sure is nice to be able to keyword search your old emails, regardless of where you are. But if you have everything stored on someone else’s server you risk disasters like this one. Rare, of course. But still!

DearMYRTLE January 27, 2008 at 3:50 pm

I was just thinking it is difficult to manage email with only one computer at home. While traveling, I want to access an old email in a folder on my desktop computer, but cannot get there from here.

Maybe the solution is to set up a WAN so I can log into the home computer from any place in the world?

Bill West January 26, 2008 at 12:42 am

Were these emails on an online
Charter Communications email site?

I have Earthlink but I have all email dl to my computer.

Previous post:

Next post: