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2/2/2008
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Howard Marks
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D'oh! -- I Should Have Made A Backup #2

In our last installment, a disgruntled employee deleted files from the computers at the small office where she worked. Her boss should have known better, but we don't expect Florida architects to be IT mavens. In episode 2, cable TV operator Charter Communications, whose chairman and largest stockholder is none other than Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, accidentially deleted 14,000 e-mail accounts and their contents.

In our last installment, a disgruntled employee deleted files from the computers at the small office where she worked. Her boss should have known better, but we don't expect Florida architects to be IT mavens. In episode 2, cable TV operator Charter Communications, whose chairman and largest stockholder is none other than Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, accidentially deleted 14,000 e-mail accounts and their contents.Since many cable modem customers have e-mail accounts from employers, Web hosting providers, AOL, or others, they don't use the free e-mail account that Charter provides. Charter periodically runs a program that deletes these mailboxes. This time something went wrong and 14,000 users were temporarily without e-mail service and permanently without whatever e-mail was in their mailbox.

"We really are sincerely sorry for having had this happen and do apologize to all those folks who were affected by the error," spokesperson Anita Lamont said Thursday when the company announced the gaff. Charter has applied a $50 credit to the bill of each customer whose account was affected by the mistake, Lamont said.

I always thought system admin rule No. 1 was "Run a backup before you delete anything just in case you delete the wrong thing." Apparently, Charter's admins never heard that. As a result, Charter's out $700,000 in service credits and an indeterminate number of customers now calling their phone companies for DSL.

Customers that used a POP-3 client lost just whatever mail arrived since the last time they downloaded their mail, but users that primarily used Web mail have lost the entire contents of their mailboxes, including pictures of the grandkids.

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