WIN! An Apple Watch And Acronis True Image Backup Software

Thanks to Acronis, we have an Apple Watch Sport (black) and a copy of Acronis True Image backup software to give away worth a combined value of $559. To win the prize, simply tell us your data loss horror story — be it a business server catastrophe, a stolen mobile phone, or anything in-between. We also have nine copies of Acronis True Image up for grabs as runner-up prizes. Hop to it!

If you've ever spilled coffee on your laptop or lost your mobile phone, you probably remember the agony and the anxiety you felt knowing that the information was irreplaceable. A recent Acronis survey revealed that 1 in 3 Australians have suffered data loss and 47 percent of Australians fear losing photos and videos the most.

To enter the competition, tell us your data loss horror story. We'll be rewarding the best anecdote with an Apple Watch Sport (valued at $429) and a copy of Acronis True Image backup software (valued at $129.99).

Nine runners-up will also bag themselves a copy of Acronis True Image backup software.

The Prize

First prize is an Apple Watch Sport and Acronis True Image backup software.

Nine runner-ups will receive a copy of the aforementioned Acronis True Image backup software.

How To Enter

To enter, simply share your data loss story in the comments section below. It could be a tale of consumer gadget woe or a business snafu involving customer data — the only rule is that it must have affected you personally.

Competition Details

• Competition closes 10:45am AEST on Tuesday 17 May 2016. Winners will be announced on site / contacted via email within 24 hours. Please ensure that your User Profile contains a valid email address.

• Entry open to all residents of Australia. Full terms and conditions.


    I once accidentally formatted the wrong partition on the wrong drive on my computer when reinstalling Windows. The partition I deleted contained ALL of my backup files - game saves, photos, home movies, and, work documents. And this was the days before cloud storage or affordable external drives.

    Last edited 03/05/16 10:54 am

      Ohhh I've done this before! After it I always quadruple checked before doing formats!

    My partner's toddler pulled on the cables of an external hard drive. It came crashing down to the floor along with all the photos of the children growing up. A valuable lesson about cloud storage was learned that day.

    I was in the middle of an engineering team project at uni with a group of six guys. We had a final report for the semester (which was worth 25%). The document was editable in iCloud Drive, and we were pretty much finished. Then I made the mistake of deleting the file as I thought it was an old draft. Turns out iCloud Drive didn't have data recovery at that point, so we had to start from scratch. Needless to say, we didn't get 25% of the course marks, but I did get a lot more than 25% of hate from my team members!

    My tale of woe happened a year ago. My backup/storage NAS box notified me of a failing drive so I bought a new one to replace it but when I replaced the failing drive the settings were set to format all drives so I lost 6TB of family computer backups as well as important pictures/documents/home videos. I was able to plug each drive in to an external case to slowly recover most of the data but it took two weeks before I had it back up and running.

    I previously worked as a assistant network administrator for an accountant business, from time to time the IT Manager would get work experience kids in and dump them on me. I usually get them to do busy work, clean out the server room, audit computers etc... One of the jobs I usually get them to do is image new windows machines for deployment. I would run them through the process of prepping a machine, running through a check list of the software need to be install, how to create images for the different departments and then mass deploy machines using a previously build company image. The company was small and didn't invest in a proper deployment software, so we were using a simple backup and restore process to deploy the machines from an external HDD. Anyway I showed the work experience kid how to image the machine, I supervised the second one and left him to do the rest, being near by if he needed me. After I left he came to grab me saying it wasn't working anymore. He managed to deploy the image onto the external HDD, erasing all the current copies of the companies images. I spent the next few days re-creating new images for every department.

    It was my first month working in IT. I had to reinstall Windows for one of the girls in the finance dept. I backed up all the data, being super careful to check for archaic financial software that loads onto the root of the C drive. Had the user check as well. After the install I went back to my desk and almost immediately the phone rang.

    "How do I get back into my DOS partition?" I answered this question with a question of my own, "What DOS partition?"

    Turns out the finance dept had some really old custom DOS software they used and the only copy happened to be on a dedicated partition on that computer. I had never even considered checking for something like that. I went back and tried to restore the data but it had been cleanly overwritten by the new Windows install. As I walked away from the cubicle after telling her the data was unrecoverable I heard the girl start to cry.

    She was demoted, nearly fired and left a few months later. Part of her written job description was to back up the DOS software daily and store a copy in the safe. She hadn't done so for more than a year.

    I was never reprimanded, criticised or even questioned about it and I still feel bad today, almost 15 years later.

    Last edited 03/05/16 5:53 pm

    I was helping out a small office with some tech support a little while ago. A user was running out of space on their computer and required a backup / reinstall. I kicked off the transfer and everything went pretty smoothly. I then started deleting their user profile. This is where the mistake happens, the company were using a shared dropbox account for their work file server, this user had the dropbox app installed on their computer which was syncing all the data with their shared account. I deleted this data, the changes of course we replicated to dropbox emptying everything for all users.

    Luckily I had just backed this data up on to an external but needless to say I had a rather pissed off small office unable to work for the afternoon.

    I had an old external drive (750GB) that I had paid far too much for many years prior and I was certain would fail soon. So after getting a flashy new 1TB USB-powered external I decided I had better copy all of my data over (photos, movies, architecture work, business tax documents etc.) to the new one before the old one inevitably failed.

    Not thinking, rather than ghosting or even doing a copy/paste I simply selected all folders, hit CTRL+X then pasted 700GB or so into the new drive.

    A few hours into the transfer, while working from home, with around 100GB or so to go, AutoCAD had crashed which in turn took out windows explorer. Closing the cut/paste window. The data hadn't yet pasted into the new drive however when I went back and checked the old drive it had cut from there fine... My stomach fell to my feet.

    Alas, approx. 600GB gone. Thanks AutoCAD :(.

    Mine happened in the days of windows 95. I was fixing a computer for a friend. and back in those days, that meant formatting drive and reinstalling windows. So I plugged his Hard drive into my machine Moved all his data he wanted to keep. Ran Fdisk utility and promply fdisked my hard drive with all his data and my data on it. From that day on I have always named my drives.

    10 years ago, when my wife and I first got married, we moved to the UK and then went on a honeymoon to Venice and Rome. When we got back to the UK, we transferred all our photos to my old clunky iMac and being tech novices at the time, we didn't even think we needed to back them up. As if fate had seen an opportunity, the very next day I switched on the computer and got a grey screen with a question mark flashing. We eventually got it working again but the photos were gone.
    The saddest part was my picture of Shaquille O'neal touring the Vatican was gone! One in a million moment!

    During my PhD we had a team of students and academics working on a big physics study for over a year, involving complex videos taken of micron sized patterns, very long and time consuming processes. Throughout the year we had gathered many terabytes of videos. The videos were labelled in a systematic way, and the experimental info was stored on a excel file, meaning that without the excel file all the data was essentially meaningless for analysis.
    While we made regular and multiple backups of the video files, which took a long long time with all that data, we didn't think so hard about backing up the key file.
    And I was in charge of keeping track of the excel key file.
    As you can imagine what happened next, in a stupid move one day when i was cleaning up my computer i managed somehow to delete the file, rendering the whole years work meaningless.
    There was no recovery and i was very unpopular. It also put back mine (and others) graduations by over a year.
    At least the second time around it was a little quicker to do and I made backups of *everything* regularly.

    My story happened about a year and a half ago. I had recently purchased a NAS and had bought 4x2TB hard disks to hold all of my old photos and home movies (and my iTunes purchases). On this particular night, there was a major storm going on and my house kept losing power. After the power outages stopped, I discovered that my NAS had died (the power supply was fried) and 3 of the disks had died (they just didn't work). Luckily I still had one 2TB drive that worked, right? WRONG - the data on the last disk was all corrupted.

    I had the original photos and videos on the SD cards still, but I lost around $500 worth of data storage in one night. To make matters worse, I had to pay for a new power supply for the NAS because I was an idiot and forgot to register the NAS under warranty :/

    My horror story is that of a saga with Segate's notorious 3TB drives (desktop backup SotragePlus drives). Last year when I lost 9TB of my precious data comprising of
    1. my wedding pics, pics from my first born, starting from year 2000 onwards
    2. I started a new business and all my client'd data and many of my client's server VM's or VM images, vital to their business and mine.
    3. my iTunes purchases and all my music, home movies and DVD (ripped and purchased over iTunes).
    4. emails and documents, especially financial information.
    the most stressful time of my life. The best part of that story is that I was running redundant backups and the 5TB drive used for Time Machine backup also failed (Seagate once again).

    All the drives featured a death-click-click sound when the drives were plugged into the computers. I went and purchased some expensive software to salvage information and I was able to recover some but I am missing about 4 years of our life's worth of pictures (and a lost wedding), home movies.

    All my client and business information was lost never to be recovered. It took me 2 months to get back online, slowly installing and recovering information, piecing it by calling up clients and begging for extensions or redoing their lost work at my cost.

    Seagate offered a peace offering and replaced all my drives for free and their support was excellent, but too little too late.

    I still run backups, Time machine and manual (using scripts) to different drives (from different manufacturers) but its all manual and I cant seem to find a software that works and obviously Acronis is something I looked at but its expensive, especially when I am the business.

    I still have nightmares and I think I have managed to get a handle on the backup scene but I wish it was easier. :-(

    I have backed up most of my DVDs onto an external hard drive on my computer, it means I can be lazy and don't have to change discs/get another movie from the shelf, and if I want to rewind/fast forward/pause I don't have to wait for the disc drive to catch up. When I first started backing up my DVDs I had maybe half of my library done (probably 200-ish). I would often watch them on my laptop in bed, and kept forgetting the hard drive was plugged in, I would get up and the hard drive would go flying onto the floor. After this happened several times the usb port on the drive was busted and when I was finally able to connect it the drive was corrupted and I couldn't get any of my files. A couple of weeks worth of work on the computer wasted, not to mention all the other files I lost (pictures/old documents etc)

    Back last year... I had booked an overseas trip to New Zealand and was so excited to go. I have a Synology DS13 and I had 2x 3TB drives and I had it set up in RAID 1. I had all my data (nearly) on it. A website that I had spent years writing that was fully functional which was an NFS share to my VMWare HV.. I had a backup of it but it was far older.. I had all my normal home usage files, plus movies and TV shows and music I had collected over the years on it... only really had around 2.5GB on it.... Either way.. It was ALOT of information. The day BEFORE I was leaving for my holiday, one of the HDDs on it failed. The other one was fine. But because it was RAID 1 it rendered both disks unusable. And the backup I did have was a while ago and split over a few HDDs and some were so old they drives didn't work any more either. I lost A LOT of data that day and I spent the whole holiday angry and frustrated at myself for not being as vigelent with my backup process. I lost my website and much other data that day. Due to backups that were half backups and I couldn't recover from such old data... *sigh*

    During the first year of my computational biology PhD, I was still getting my head around the command line. The supercomputer that we ran all our analyses on generated two files from each analysis job - a .o standard output file and a .e standard error file. I was trying to clean up my folders as I had thousands of these standard error files. I typed 'rm *e*' .... and forgot the all important dot. As a result, I lost every file that had an 'e' in the file name. This included all of the evolutionary tree files I had spent months on, some of which took weeks to generate on the supercomputer. I then remember being horrified to discover that Unix has no recycle bin, and doubly horrified when I realised that I had not backed up many of those files. This small typo set me back weeks in my PhD.

    Needless to say, I now backup my PhD work every day, and do 'ls' before 'rm' to make sure I'm deleting only what I want to delete!

    It was about 3:00 am the night before a major assignment was due, As I was a slacker, I had only started writing the assignment earlier that night, but I was getting tired. I decided that was enough and would proof read it in the morning and then submit. I closed word and then clicked no to that little annoying pop up that always comes up.

    The next morning I come back to the computer, looking for my assignment, turns out that little annoying pop up was asking me if I would like to save before closing word. Turns out I hadn't saved at all during the night so I lost the whole document, this was about 8 - 9 years ago and the uni computers didn't have autosave configured in word (they repeatedly told us this as well)

    The worst part about it for me was that the only fault existed between the keyboard and the chair.

    I used to keep all my uni assessments, course info and basically EVERYTHING on a USB attached to my key ring for easy access. Having a personal laptop wasn't so much the rage back then.
    One day while attempting to unload my paddle board off at the boat ramp, I forgot to put the handbrake on and got out of the car. It started rolling backwards. I slipped trying to stop it, fell under the front wheel and crushed/broke my hand. The car ended up in the river with the keys in the ignition. Not only did I lose a semesters worth of programs (ended up with 13/100 for programming), essays and reports, but I also lost my car. On a positive note, the paddle board survived.

    I run a small business that uses a cluster of twelve Raspberry PIs to drive all the hardware within an interactive entertainment venue. I have a series of scripts that let them pull down the latest software builds, switch to a development version, and the like. I then use a utility called "distributed shell" to broadcast commands to the entire cluster that prompt them to all simultaneously run one of these scripts.

    This set has a lot of upsides, but there's a pretty clear risk here so I always test things out first on a machine that's outside this cluster. Sometimes these scripts need to run in user-space, and sometimes they run at boot as a root user to change machine-wide configuration variables and the like. To help with this, I had one script that would repair file permissions and ownership on any files checked out of a repository by the wrong user. I'd made a few changes to the scripts that pulled down files to allow them to switch between versions more easily, and I'd checked the changes on my testing machine and it all worked.

    Confident in the changes, I put the new script onto each machine in the cluster, then broadcast the new command to them all. Unfortunately I'd neglected one vital thing: to first set an environment variable holding the existing version in use. My fancy new script quite happily changed directory to "${EXISTING_VERSION_DIR}/" and proceeded to "sudo chown -R user:user *" to ensure the file ownership was correct. The Linux sysadmins in the root will already be grimacing, but for the benefit of everyone else: when you add a "/" to the end of a non-existent environment variable, you just get plain old "/". And in Linux, that's the root directory of the entire hard drive.

    Not only had I managed to change the ownership of every single file on the entire computer to a user that wasn't logged in, (and now couldn't because the commands to login and change user weren't accessible to it), I'd also managed to ensure every single machine in my entire cluster had just executed the same fatal mistake. And then of course, like any good engineer I wanted to know how I'd made such a mistake, so I retraced my steps carefully, and wiped out my testing machine too...

    The only silver linings to this horrible tale are that I *did* have a recent image saved, so restoring all thirteen machines was at least possible. I've also learnt my lesson and there are now a lot more checks and balances to prevent anyone doing this again!

    it was probably about 8-10 years ago, my housemate and I had amassed about a terrabyte of media on a NAS, being somewhat poor we had an old Ikea cupboard we had the ADSL Router in and the NAS along with a few other things and had taken the doors off for airflow, it was effective but well not the best solution... one day my father was at the house fixing a number for us while we were at work and i get home to a note from him with everthing he fixed and this roaring noise coming from the hall like a thousand jet engines... suffice to say he had re attached the doors to the cabinet and being a 35 degree day with no aircon on all day pretty much everything was dead... we had no internet and no TV shows, movies, photos lost the lot unless it was on our PC at the time untill that moment i had never really thought of the need to have a back up for the NAS now i always run a redundant raid array in a well ventilated space...

    I run a small business and use a laptop back and forth from work and my home office. All my files were automatically backed up onto a NAS as soon as I went home and also backup into an external HDD when I go into the office.

    When my laptop's HDD failed I tried to recover the files from the NAS and during the recovery of files the NAS drive decided to fail also! Though it was frustrating, I wasn't worried since there was another backup that was on the HDD at the office. The next morning, I went into work, ready to recover the lost files, and to my luck it also failed.

    From all the failed drives, I managed to lose all my work files and also 10 years worth of photos and archive. That incident is now referred to as the CRASH of 07.

    I forget the table names, but one of my most annoying data "loss" moments began with the word "UPDATE" in an SQL front-end connected to our client database. Something didn't cross reference properly, and I overwrote a lot of fields.

    Didn't lose any pertinent client information but it took me about two weeks to reconstruct everything from an older backup.

    I had placed a reputable 'waterproof' case on my new iPhone 6, I had done all the tests required and was satisfied that it was correctly sealed. So I took the phone into the pool to take photos of my children underwater. Within a minute i realised that something was dreadfully wrong and that water had indeed gotten into the case. I raced out of the pool with the kiddies in tow and dried to dry it out. Not only did I loose everything up until the last backup but i lost my new phone.

    Was running raid 0 with HDDs as my main OS and storage for all my data..had no backup copies. HDD failed within 6months, lost everything :( . Since then I bought SSDs in set in raid 0 for OS, have a separate slow spinning HDD for data with an external HDD as backup. ALWAYS BACKUP you stuff is what i learnt.

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