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back to article Photo loss blogger to Flickr: You're f*cking kidding

Yahoo!-owned photo-sharing site Flickr has mistakenly deleted 4,000 photos belonging to a photoblogger, who opined that Yahoo! surely must be "fucking kidding". Mirco Wilhelm, an IT Architect at T-Systems Schweiz, has used Flickr to store and share his photos for five years. He reported a user account to Flickr that contained …

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Anonymous Coward

Parked data simply not safe

We knew that already, but conveniently ignored it. In the meantime, various governmental agencies are pushing, this way or another, into the cloud. Soonish if not already that will include /critical services/. I shouldn't need to spell out the obvious here, or?

Time to think about it. For example, how to put the risks in words small enough for our esteemed representatives in parliament to understand.

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Simple words.

If the stuff is not on your net work. You no longer have control of it.

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riiiight

Exactly. Seriously, folks. If it is important to you, manage it on your own hardware, back up to DVD, This guy throwing a fit because an off site service lost his stuff is a bit much. They have backups, and he'll get his work back. And maybe next time he'll take a backup of his own.

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Yeah, right...

There are still refuseniks out there which operate their own servers, own mail accounts, own PBX-es and own backups.

There is less and less of them by the year. Some succumb to the ineveitable tides of time while other succumb to the inevitable lure of Google apps. More and more of the survivors now have white hair in addition to the classic vile BOFH-ian temper and Perl-programmer-specific sense of humour.

Face it, while I admire your statement the sentiment of "I would like to keep my own data safe thank ya" clearly labels you as a dinosaur. Same as me. Time to go munch on some ginko leaves and tree ferns (drenched in a quadruple sysadmin espresso which will kill any user not with GID wheel).

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Nor do you

unless it is backed up. And the backups actually work (I've seen that before). And they're stored off-site (seen that too).

For the most part, any cloud service will effect a better backup than what most Random J Punter can do.

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RE: riiiight

The guy didn't throw a fit because they 'lost' his stuff. He was dissatisfied with their account removal procedure and subsequent compensation. As a paying customer he was given simply given an apology and extended subscription when they deleted his content without a review or a deactivation period. He has the original files but until this was picked up by the media he was expected to upload, tag, name, link, and group over 4000 images all over again, which would have taken months of work. Even then that wouldn't fix any issues related to external sites that had linked to the old pictures.

So, before jumping to rash conclusions perhaps you should RTFA along with the source. That way you'll find that you're far less likely to end up with egg on your face.

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Grenade

"Dinosaur" and proud

Hey, I can live with the "dinosaur" epithet. When everybody else's work based in the cloud goes kablooey due to system failure, my domain -- including my blog, all my posted artwork, and my email account -- will keep on chugging along.

And, yes... I learned way early to backup like an obsessive-compulsive, including the database that drives my blog. It's already saved my ass once.

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Coat

It was free space....

I too store my photos on "the cloud" (google in this case). Now, I know that I have 7GB of "free" space; to me this means, "if you put it here, it might disappear". There's no SLA associated.

However, I can pay for additional space (https://www.google.com/accounts/PurchaseStorage), and although I have not checked, I would hope that by paying , I get certain guarantees... time to check.

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Anonymous Coward

@It was free space..

"I would hope that by paying , I get certain guarantees"

Yes, so did he, that is his point. He has his own backups.

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Surely no problem...

All he has to do is restore his photos from one of his other backups (his laptop's hard disk, an external drive, CDs/DVDs). Let's face it, only a complete and utter idiot would have only 1 copy of such valuable data (and on an online source which he does not control).

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He says he has all his photos elsewhere

He says he has all his photos elsewhere, it is more that he has lost all the other flickr content - comments, links etc.

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WTF?

no problem?

If you bothered to read his blog post, you'd see that he does have a backup of the originals - however, all the metadata is now gone, all the links to his photos on flickr are broken, and he has to upload the whole lot again.

In what way does a paid service screwing up like this without any way of fixing the issue represent 'no problem'?

And BTW, can everyone who is ever tempted to post some smug and inane remark about backups every time they read about someone losing data, count to 10 and then go and do something more productive.

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re the post im replying to

Its probably more the fact that if you've spent 5 years tagging and sorting 4000 photos, then you're not really going to want to do it again because someone deleted it (albeit by accident)

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mostly

I fully expect he does have a copy of all the photos somewhere else, if he doesn't then he's a complete idiot for putting his trust in a service that costs $12 a year.

However there will be links to those deleted images in forums and blogs all over the net which are now 404s that can't be rectified. Uploading 4000 images into the correct sets with the descriptions and names and tags is going to take some time.

Then you're on to the flickr side, what kind of an organisation deletes an entire account without having a method of restoring it on the basis of a complaint from one user?

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Badgers

Ummm I don't think he thinks of it as "data"

Summary execution of Flickr types is not a matter of deletion of data - everyone who isn't an eejit has multiple copies of their treasured snaps.

It is a matter of your reputation being deleted. All the contacts, comments and favourites that stick the photos together and make it, um, social.

You clearly missed that has become dreadful popular recently.

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He can, but would YOU want to upload 4000 photos again?

Only for none of the links to the original photos to work any more...

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True

but at the same time: why does flickr not have a roll-back system in place to cope with such mishaps?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Surely no problem

Being an "IT Architect", he has no really excuse for not having backups, or is "Architect" the new form of "consultant", aka someone who doesn't have the knowledge to be an engineer in the field? (or maybe that's just my experience of telecoms consultants tainting my view!).

I'm sure it's the 5 years worth of contacts, groups and animated "Flickr Award" comments that he is really mourning the loss of.

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This

He's a fool for not having a local backup yeah but they should have backups too, plus they shouldn't go around deleting people's accounts without suspension first, they could clearly have a much better process in place to avoid screw ups like this.

They both failed.

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@ Surely no problem

It is a bit ironic to use the word idiot so quickly, not realizing that merely uploading the pics again does nothing to get the links working again which was the primary problem cited.

Let me be more clear. Here is a randomly selected link:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/rappensuncle/194332104/

If flickr deletes that pic and the user re-ups the pic, a new # is created for the pic so...

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@Tom Melly

"And BTW, can everyone who is ever tempted to post some smug and inane remark about backups every time they read about someone losing data, count to 10 and then go and do something more productive."

Flickr should definitely invest in a better backup solution, or more competent staff. Or both. Definitely the first one, though.

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Go

Exactly !

Such as run your backup routine.

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@Semaj

"He's a fool for not having a local backup..."

So tell me Mr. not a fool, how does he backup the internals of Flickr's database? You know all the relationship data that is completely internal, and can only be guessed at by going to every single page on Flicr.

Now assuming that he has managed to backup the internal database relationships, how does he put it back?

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@Michael H.F. Wilkinson

"but at the same time: why does flickr not have a roll-back system in place to cope with such mishaps?"

Because partial rollback systems can be inordinately complex to develop, especially on scale-out infrastructure. It's probably several orders of magnitude cheaper to get someone knowledgable enough to manually restore data from a recent snapshot on the rare occasion that data is lost due to human error.

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WTF?

Shut up you plank!

I have a DeviantArt account, had it for 2 years now, it only has about 100 of my best photos on it, but it's all the wonderful comments and hints that make it special. Even one DD I am very proud of, DD is an award that is presented to only 30 pictures each day, out of the thousands uploaded every 24 hours by it's 13 million members. The photos are nothing as such just my attempts at creativity, it's the links to all the really great people on DA that make my account priceless to me.

I am not some Facebook or Twitter person, I don't have accounts there just DA. Perhaps when you have poured your heart and soul into something that has taken years of painstaking work to achieve, it then gets deleted by some arsehole with a mouse and a "click-OK" fetish, you wouldn't be so flippant about what this poor sod has lost!

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@BristolBachelor

Using the Flickr APIs? Not saying he should have to, but you can access all your metadata (tags / groups / sets / etc) through them. Re-adding comments / restoring the original photo URLs I don't think are possible though.

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Anonymous Coward

@Surely no problem ...

If he can restore from a backup, why can't Flickr?

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@Jeff 11

"Because partial rollback systems can be inordinately complex to develop, especially on scale-out infrastructure. It's probably several orders of magnitude cheaper to get someone knowledgable enough to manually restore data from a recent snapshot on the rare occasion that data is lost due to human error."

Maybe so but there's no need for that complexity:

- Flag account as publicly inaccessible (404 from user pov).

- Flag as pending deletion in say, 90 days.

- Wait......

- Delete.

Such that accounts are 'deleted' from a public point of view immediately but all data and the all important comments, relationships, etc, are maintained for a grace period before actual storage-level deletion 'just in case', to avoid PR disasters like this one.

It's just common sense.

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He should just buy a mirror

C'mon folks... Is it really possible to have 4000-odd photos that need "valuable" meta-data? That definition of "valuable" is surely less meaningful than Facebooks definition of "friend".

If this block is so up himself he'd do better to put a mirror in the corner to watch a live HD video feed of himself.

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Anonymous Coward

@Jeremy 2

Well, that's what they're doing now, aren't they?

"We are working on a process that would allow us to easily restore deleted accounts and we plan on rolling this functionality out soon."

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@Jeremy 2

A very sensible suggestion but I suspect their system is in no way designed to work that way and may well be a pain in the arse to implement from their perspective vs why bother as the incident rate of a staff member being a twat is hopefully low and the benefit to the company is minimal in cash terms. It's also difficult to code out admin user stupidity i.e. they may well have the process but they didn't use it. It's a worthy change from a user perspective but can the company be arsed? Juxtapose that to Facebook where the system was no doubt designed that way from the start because they have a vested interest in retaining your data.

2 social-type systems with two different aims leading to different implementations. Incompetence? Poor design? Penny pinching? Who knows, just saying.

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Coat

ho hum

what can you say?

He should have had other backups? well hindsights all very well but whooda thought a massive yahoo owned company like that would F up that badly?

5 billion pics at say 1/5mb each

=2.5 bil megs

=25000 x million megs

25,000,000 x thousanmegs (a tera)

25000 tb , i suppose thats a lot to stick on tape every night

thats gotta be a big san

dont they got a recycle bin? a salvage folder etc etc - what i find most amazing is they'll delete a users pics, so entirely and permanently just on the word of some other user!

luckily for me all the digital personal data i've collected since pcs were invented will fit on a dvd :)

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Stop

Maths

I'm going to have a stab at correcting your maths here, which, of course, means I'lm going to smugly point out your mistakes while producing far more of my own mistakes, hence AC :)

"5 billion pics at say 1/5mb each

=2.5 bil megs"

Do you mean one fifth of a MB each, in which case it's 1 billion MB, or half a MB each - although that still seems pretty low to me...

"2.5 bil megs

=25000 x million megs"

Surely 2,500 million megs? (Assuming we're talking about American billions, which, alas, we probably are)

"25,000,000 x thousanmegs (a tera)"

From the above, '2,500,000 x thousand megs', which is not a 'tera', it's a 'giga'

So - from your original assumption, I make that 2,500TB. Still a lot to backup, I guess, but I'd say it's more accurate to just think of it as 'double the capacity they currently have', in which case it seems much more realistic. No?

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SAN???

NAS FTW. I would think they use snapshots... based on the storage they use.

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Actually.

>what i find most amazing is they'll delete a users pics, so entirely and permanently just on the

>word of some other user!

In fact they deleted the account of the person asking for another account to be deleted, though I know what you mean.

If I set up an account and then asked for other accounts to be deleted would they delete the other accounts too?

It seems bizarre that there is no account blocking facility, or contacting the accused person so that they can put things right - or anything shy of deleting an account.

Another issue with flickr is that you can only upload so much data per month (on the free account anyway) so even if the guy has a backup it will take a long time to upload all those pictures again.

ttfn

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See Below

'Snap shots'. I like it. It was a joke?

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Trashcan

It does seem odd that suspended accounts aren't moved to a trashcan pending deletion. Flickr could send the registered user a notification that there is something suspicious about the account. if they don't respond within (chooses random number) seven days then the account is deleted permanently. If they reply, an arbitration process begins.

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touche

yeah i knew i'd go wrong on that somewhere , LOL

surprising i only dropped one dec place :)

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Coffee/keyboard

Do the maths

I'd be gutted if Flickr deleted my photos, though given they must have billions of snaps floating around their servers I've never assumed they had any kind of backup solution. Everything I upload is ultimately backed up to DVD if it's important enough.

Whadya mean DVD isn't a viable long-term solution? I'm not building a time capsule for posterity...

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The irony

For once, switching to facebook might be a good option. You can't delete data from there even if you try.

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Happy

Now Mark ...

... was that really necessary? :+)

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Happy

Superb sir!

Well done! A first class effort, top of the class!

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FAIL

Backup Fail

I have copies of my photos on my local HD as well as on flickr, and if my HD fails, then I can just download them all from flickr to copy to my new HD... oh, hang on...

Err, flickr, if you're not going to back up our photos, at least give us some way to do so...

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Gone, gone?

What?

He doesn't keep his own backups?

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Grenade

THE MAN

HAS HIS OWN BACKUP!!

WHY HAVE SO MANY PEOPLE APPARENTLY NOT FINISHED READING THE ARTICLE BEFORE POSTING A COMMENT!?

apologies for the capslock, but I can't post in blinking red comic sans so that was my only choice

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"The Cloud"

And thus highlights the problem with storing your data in the cloud, and therefore under somebody elses control.

I see potential for the same issues with other cloud-based services, meaning that essentially you still need to keep a backup of your entire data-set even though you have supposedly offloaded the cost of doing so to the third-party. Granted, he probably doesn't have a corporate agreement with Flikr along with SLA's and agreed support/backup, but still it's one of the things the beancounters do not consider when looking at the attractive costing of cloud-based services.

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Only if...

True enough, but only if you're expecting your PC *and* the cloud service to die at the same time, which seems somewhat unlikely. If it did happen then I'd guess you'd be more worried about finding shelter from the mutated giant cockroaches, than any data you might have lost (unless of course that data included your plans for a giant-cockroach shelter).

So - cloud service acts as a backup to your PC (or whatever primary storage device), and vice versa. If one goes down, you restore it from the other.

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Coat

Giant Cockroach Shelter?

Why would you want to make a shelter for the 'roaches?

The one with the can of fly spray, ta.

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Not a problem.

Simply re-upload the photos from his local copies, problem solved.

Sure, it'll maybe take him a day or two, but it's only some remote copies whch were lost, not the originals or masters.

After all, only a complete fuckwitted moron would place their only copy of anything important somewhere over which they have no control - is he admitting to being a complete fuckwitted moron?

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