If you visited this or any of my sites around the start of July, you would (hopefully) have been greeted by this smiling chap instead of the web page you’d requested.
For a period of two or three weeks at the start of July 2009 all my sites, including this one, were unavailable. The physical node that hosts the VPS that hosts the sites was wiped out in a mass hack attack perpetrated against the operators, VAServ. All VPS data on the node was destroyed, which unfortunately included my personal email, web content, source code repositories and so on. As far as I’m aware no data on the VPS was actually compromised as the attackers simply deleted everything on the hardware node.
I’m not alone, as over 100,000 sites were taken down by the same attack. While I sympathise with the other webmasters, their company is cold comfort.
Since then I’ve been working to build a new VPS from scratch on a new hardware node and restore all my services. I’m nearly finished now with just a few final niggles to sort out.
I had recent backups of most of the content, with Google’s cache filling in some of the remaining blanks. But I’ve lost around six months worth of email from the start of 2009. If you emailed me around the end of June or start of July and are still waiting for a reply you should re-send your message as it’s likely to have been lost.
Data loss is one of those things that you think happens to other people, right up until it happens to you. Now that I’ve been burned I’m in full-on paranoid mode, and I’m evaluating internet based backup software for all the machines I have content on. If lightning strikes twice, at least I’ll be ready!
It’s easy to underestimate the importance of your data when it’s all safely there, but, like your knees, you’ll miss it as soon as it’s gone.
At least I didn’t lose the Moon landing tapes.