Data Disaster

Yesterday I worked until 10pm typing up problem sheet solutions on my laptop only to loose all the data this morning.  So just so this never happens again here is my examination of the wreckage of an entire evening’s work…  I think it is right but I have fairly successfully obliterated most of the wreak

  1. Edit document problems.odt on desktop
  2. Synch with laptop and work with problems.odt into the night
  3. Return to work and run synch program (I use Unison a generally reliable program)

This is where it all starts to go wrong….

  1. Notice that another file handouts.odt has a conflict, the laptop file is newer but the desktop file is bigger
  2. Synch all the other files, so the new problems.odt is propagated to the desktop
  3. Open OpenOffice on the desktop machine to look at the files – I still need to resolve handouts.odt
  4. This pops up an auto-recovery dialogue for handouts.odt and problems.odt which I click through and then close problems.odt.  This reverts problems.odt to the old version pre the work into the night but with a new time-stamp.
  5. I look at handouts.odt am not happy with the conflict so I create a handouts_laptop.odt on the laptop to merge the two together.
  6. This also propagates the reverted problems.odt to the laptop.  Game over!

There are two root causes to this:

  • OpenOffice’s recovery feature overwrote the new file with an older version without any warning.
  • Unison’s conflict algorithm didn’t highlight the second synch of problems.odt as being problematical which is a bit odd as normally it works very well.

A prompt from either would have stopped this from happening.  I now need to review what to do in the future as this is the second time I’ve had one of these data disasters….

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