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Ask Slashdot: Protecting Data From a Carrington Event?

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the managed-to-save-the-kids-and-the-games dept.

Data Storage 386

kactusotp writes "I run a small indie game company, and since source code is kind of our lifeblood, I'm pretty paranoid about backups. Every system has a local copy, servers run from a RAID 5 NAS, we have complete offsite backups, backup to keyrings/mobile phones, and cloud backups in other countries as well. With all the talk about solar flares and other such near-extinction events lately, I've been wondering: is it actually possible to store or protect data in such a way that if such an event occurred, data survives and is recoverable in a useful form? Optical and magnetic media would probably be rendered useless by a large enough solar flare, and storing source code/graphics in paper format would be impractical to recover, so Slashdot, short of building a Faraday cage 100 km below the surface of the Moon, how could you protect data to survive a modern day Carrington event?"

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Don't panic! (5, Informative)

jmorris42 (1458) | about 2 years ago | (#41013575)

First step is to stop listening to the hype. Yes it would be bad for the large power distribution infrastructure but no solar flare is going to erase optical discs that doesn't also wipe out most life on the planet. It isn't going to erase hard drives that aren't destroyed by the power events that happen in the first few minutes. So a copy in your safe will still be readable. Remember, the safe is metal and entirely enclosed. In other words it is a Faraday Cage. I really don't know how flash memory will react to a strong electro-magnetic field but my money on it also surviving so long as it isn't connected to anything when the balloon goes up. Kinda hard to induce much of a voltage across nanoscale features. And these observations also apply to an EMP attack.

It things really get bad you might have trouble finding a working system to connect that backup to and electricity to start it up with but if it gets that bad you won't be worrying about the source code to some damned game, you will be worried about God, Gold and Guns at that point.

While making those elaborate plans to protect your data you might also want to take a few precautions to ensure you are there to need that data when the dust settles. Do you have a bug out bag? Is it fresh? Do you have an escape plan? Odds are that if you are an indie game dev you live in one of the hives where venture capital can be found and everyone there is toast within days; the trucks stop rolling when the gas pumps stop working, the shelves empty and canibalism begins. Do you have a destination in mind? Do you have a few days of survival supplies stashed to allow you a chance to get to it?

Re:Don't panic! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41013683)

This fool is beyond our help -- he thinks optical media will be toasted, so you can bet he'll just label your antihype as denial or conspiracy misinformation so he can maintain his ludicrous delusion.

Re:Don't panic! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41013835)

by and large, optical media use an aluminum substrate to write on. While the chances of damage to this are exceedingly slim, it does still exist. If static discharge can damage one [and i assure you that they can be damaged by sufficient static discharge], then a carrington event certainly can.

Re:Don't panic! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41014117)

If static discharge can damage one [and i assure you that they can be damaged by sufficient static discharge], then a carrington event certainly can.

Here's a hint: If a geomagnetic storm is strong enough to cause sparks to be emitted from near by power, telephone, and telegraph lines, do NOT stick your optical media into those emitted sparks.

If you follow this simple warning, your optical media will be safe from geomagnetic storms.*

* (Protection not guaranteed for rioting, looting, or people acting stupid in response to such a storm. Protection does not apply to high frequency magnetic oscillations, such as near an induction heater. In the event of a geomagnetic storm induced by a magnetar colliding with Earth, your mileage may vary.)

Re:Don't panic! (5, Informative)

rgbrenner (317308) | about 2 years ago | (#41014177)

aluminum substrate to write on

No. that's not right at all. The aluminum is only used as a reflective layer. A CDR/DVDR is:

1. printed label/printable surface
2. aluminum
3. dye
4. clear plastic substrate

On a blank disc the laser goes through the dye and is reflected by the aluminum.

When the laser writes to the disc, it (basically) burns the dye.

When the burnt area is read by the laser, it is not reflected back by the aluminum. (so now you have 1s and 0s)

Re:Don't panic! (3, Insightful)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#41014159)

He probably saw that Nicholos Cage movie two nights ago about a sun EM pulse that "destroyed the ozone layer" and then wiped-out all on mankind in a fiery inferno (even people 1 mile below ground). Hence a massive loss of data.

Of course no EM pulse could destroy the ozone layer, and even if it did it wouldn't matter because it's the *magnetosphere* that protects us from EM events and that was still intact.

Plus even if something did set the world afire with flames, the event would not effect the humans living on the dark side of the earth. The U.S. might be toasted but China, Russia, and most of Europe would still be alive & well. (With their 24 hour news channels talking about the death of the heathen Americans... it was an act of God, Allah, Buddha, whatever.)

Basically this is a ridiculous "Ask Slashdot" arising from too many ridiculous Hollywood terror/fear films.

Re:Don't panic! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41013731)

This may be the best slashdot comment I have ever read.

Re:Don't panic! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41013793)

Wrong. The best comment ever is HOT GRITS

Re:Don't panic! (0)

steelfood (895457) | about 2 years ago | (#41013765)

According to Wikipedia, a storm of this magnitude happens only once every 500 years or so.

Since one just happened about a hundred years back, the question is largely irrelevant.

Re:Don't panic! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41013933)

someone needs to go back to school on probability...

Re:Don't panic! (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41013939)

According to Wikipedia, a storm of this magnitude happens only once every 500 years or so.

Since one just happened about a hundred years back, the question is largely irrelevant.

While you're reading Wikipedia, look up "Gambler's fallacy". The fact that such an event occurred relatively recently has no effect on the probability that will happen in the near future.

Re:Don't panic! (1)

Score Whore (32328) | about 2 years ago | (#41014065)

You are assuming that it's a random event. Kind of like earthquakes, we can't predict when they will happen but it's certain that we will not have to major earthquakes at the same location on the same fault line. Once you've had one, it takes time for the conditions to arise again.

Re:Don't panic! (1)

Nutria (679911) | about 2 years ago | (#41013947)

That a big, fat statistics [wikipedia.org] *FAIL*!

Unless you're being sarcastic, in which case you did a very bad job of that, too.

Re:Don't panic! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41013963)

I hope you're joking. If not you really need to study Intro. to Probability.

Re:Don't panic! (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41013773)

You are correct about flash memory not being particularly vulnerable to EM. I work in data sterilization and modern degaussers that are used by a lot of government agencies to nuke their hard drives are completely ineffective on solid-state drives.

Re:Don't panic! (4, Insightful)

MitchDev (2526834) | about 2 years ago | (#41013889)

If a true "Extinction Event" occurs, no one will be alive to care about your data...

Re:Don't panic! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41013975)

... In other words it is a Faraday Cage. ...

Considering the rate of change of magnetic fields from geomagnetic storms can be on the order of minutes or longer, the skin depth of an oscillating field in the millhertz range is going to be really larger. It would take a rather thick, highly magnetic material to make a Faraday cage at those frequencies. In principle you would be better off with something that shields from DC magnetic theories. In practice, the magnitude of change in magnetic field is not going to be that big of a deal, unless your drive is sensitive enough to need from people walking by with a permanent magnet in their pocket.

Re:Don't panic! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41014039)

If there is a Carrington event, odds are there won't be much of a society left to play games. You saw how bad people got during Katrina and that was 3 days of shut down society. Imagine that 30% of the power grid is burnt out, whole cities could descend into chaos.

Re:Don't panic! (4, Insightful)

Penguinisto (415985) | about 2 years ago | (#41014149)

In complete agreement with this, but a bit more elaboration is needed IMHO.

If a full-on Carrington Event irreparably blows the electrical grid, you're going to have a hard time finding something that would compile your source code, let alone having an audience to sell your final products to.

If electricity blew out for a few days, no biggie. On the other hand, something that damned big may well take out power for months, if not years. Same goes for most modern trucks, trains, and ships - specifically their computer-run engine controllers. Without transportation, most cities would see grocery stores run out of food within 3-5 days. Most home have an average of 1 day up to two weeks of food in a given pantry. The military could conceivably step in as most of their vehicles are hardened against frickin' nuclear EMPs, but there are only so many mil-spec vehicles to go around (less in the US, when you consider how many of them are currently in the Mideast right now). Long story short, relief would be haphazard at best, and would certainly not reach anyone who isn't in one of the top 5-10 metro areas of your country.

The rest just comes apart from there.

I'm a sysadmin. I take a rather paranoid approach to DR/BC measures. On the other hand, if something like the sun going apeshit to Carrington levels happened and blew out the infrastructure? Fuck it - I wouldn't even go into work at that point, because we would all have much bigger problems to tackle than a screaming CEO.

I do disagree with parent about relying solely on a "bug-out bag". Unless you live in a dense urban area where you have no other choice? Once you leave home you're a refugee, period. 3 days worth of food will run out pretty quickly, and if panic truly set in, I doubt you'd find much shelter beyond whatever the government might provide.

Long story short? You will save yourself a lot of grief and money by preparing your datacenter/source/whatever for the more common outage causes. Anything beyond the typical stuff (fire, flood, hacking, etc) is likely going to make you question whether or not civilization as we know it will even survive - and I'm fairly sure that you place your family/spouse/kids/etc at a far higher priority than a bunch of source code to a game.

Re:Don't panic! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41014203)

You may want to build some equipment that could survive the radiation/ EMP, perhaps take a disc of sapphire, and etch it with a laser to store the code (as if it was punch cards or a clay tablet, but much smaller) and you'll want to build the equipment to read it as well; but mechanically. of course that would require capital, and it isn't in the budget; and the investors really want a return this year.

Wow... (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | about 2 years ago | (#41013603)

With all the talk about solar flares and other such near-extinction events lately, I've been wondering: is it actually possible to store or protect data in such a way that if such an event occurred...

So you're worried you might go extinct or even worse... expelled?

Pray, Mr. Babbage... (5, Funny)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about 2 years ago | (#41013815)

To paraphrase:

On two occasions I have been asked, 'Pray, Mr. Babbage, if the surface of the Earth is fried by a solar flare and all computers are rendered inoperable, how can one protect a video game?' I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a need.

Dumbass... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41013613)

Wow, this is one of the most retarded questions to date and that's saying something for an "Ask Slashdot" question.

Re:Dumbass... (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about 2 years ago | (#41013753)

Wow, this is one of the most retarded questions to date and that's saying something for an "Ask Slashdot" question.

Yeah. Joan can't possibly interfer with Blake's things anymore as he's R.I.P.

Re:Dumbass... (5, Interesting)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | about 2 years ago | (#41013953)

It's a bummer your post was modded down. You bring up a good point, it's really hard to get past this guy's warped sense of priorities.

I propose a do-over. How about instead of asking how to protect his video game in the event of global catastrophe, how about just a discussion of how we (as a society I mean) bank a few things so that if that event does come it doesn't turn out as bad as what happened in Dark Angel? For example, what if the US Gov't built a vault somewhere that could supposedly survive this even and stored a few computers with tons of data about history, technology, maybe a backup of Wikipedia, etc?

Well my idea may be dumb but I have to say a discussion about that would be way more interesting to me.

Least of your worries (5, Informative)

hairykrishna (740240) | about 2 years ago | (#41013637)

The only mechanism I can think of which would case a solar flare to render optical disks unreadable would be radiation damage. A solar flare which delivered that kind of dose would likely wipe out all life on earth so you probably wouldn't be worrying about your backups.

Re:Least of your worries (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41013781)

And even if it didn't...

If it is powerful enough to destroy all your info, wouldn't it stand to reason that *EVERY COMPUTER ON EARTH* would also be destroyed? (Or at least all those in the same hemisphere as yours.)

Your company's entire purpose for existence just vanished at the same time as your company's data.

It's one thing if your company deals with data that has use outside computers (banking information, for example, or engineering blueprints for physical objects,) but when your company just writes software for computers? Yeah. You're going to be looking for a new job anyway.

Re:Least of your worries (3, Insightful)

Bobakitoo (1814374) | about 2 years ago | (#41013797)

The optical disks would be unreadable because, presumably, the electronic hardware used to access them would be unusable. Not because the disk itself somewhat melted away.

Re:Least of your worries (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41014161)

If there's no electronic equipment to access the disks, source code is useless anyway, readable or not.

Re:Least of your worries (4, Funny)

cowboy76Spain (815442) | about 2 years ago | (#41013829)

The only mechanism I can think of which would case a solar flare to render optical disks unreadable would be radiation damage. A solar flare which delivered that kind of dose would likely wipe out all life on earth so you probably wouldn't be worrying about your backups.

A good sysadmin would worry about backups even after death... :-P

Re:Least of your worries (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 2 years ago | (#41013981)

I've had this same situation come up with clients and employers. Folks come to me wanting data to be safe from all* circumstances. It's too expensive to do that.

I can get it up to the situation where if a nuclear bomb exploded over our state they could go somewhere else and set up shop, but for a small business or non-profit would you need to worry about such things if a nuclear bomb exploded over your home and/or business? Probably not.

If such an event occurs... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41013639)

...your small indie game company is the least of your worries.

Re:If such an event occurs... (2)

jellomizer (103300) | about 2 years ago | (#41013851)

His customers are some really HARD CORE GAMMERS!
With their PC's are setup Miles underground, Back up power generators powered by underground rivers.

Re:If such an event occurs... (1)

zerro (1820876) | about 2 years ago | (#41014053)

as the first poster alluded to - computer gaming would be completely supplanted by the real life games of survival that would resemble something out of the Fallout series

Re:If such an event occurs... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41014121)

But if the entire planet were melted into nothing but slag by, in comparison to our technology level, a borderline-omnipotent alien race, and humanity has been reduced to a mere fraction of a percent of its population, being held in slaver ships spread across the galaxy, where any group of ten or fewer humans, even down to a single human, were truly inconceivable distances away from anyone else they could even remotely call "friend", awaiting inevitable extinction of the entire species as this alien race only sees us as just another disposable physical labor resource they can easily replace by conquering another inhabited planet just as swiftly as they reduced ours to useless smoldering rubble, as everything that anybody, anywhere on Earth knew and loved is forever and irrecoverably gone to the cold, black void of oblivion, I want my source code to still be there, damnit! We'll worry about the other problems at patch time!

Yes (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41013641)

Punch Cards.

Re:Yes (3, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | about 2 years ago | (#41013885)

Heck just print your code out. You can always retype it back in, just in time for civilization to recover.

let's see...linux kernel source (3, Interesting)

Chirs (87576) | about 2 years ago | (#41014033)

15 million lines of code. Call it 100 lines per page to ensure OCR can read it after. Let's be generous and go double-sided. That's 75K pages of printout. At 0.003" per page, that's a stack of paper roughly 6 feet tall.

Re:let's see...linux kernel source (3, Informative)

1u3hr (530656) | about 2 years ago | (#41014135)

Paper worked for St Leibowitz.

Or you could use Bradbury's method, get a bunch of people to commit it to memory by reciting it continuously.

Re:let's see...linux kernel source (1)

omnichad (1198475) | about 2 years ago | (#41014141)

I am sure it would end up being thicker. It's 150 reams.

Don't worry about it... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41013663)

If such an event destroys all the computer media on Earth, nobody can buy or play your game anyway.

But maybe you can use punch cards?

Old tech to the rescue (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41013665)

If you are that worried about it you could look into some old technology like paper tape or punch cards.

Re:Old tech to the rescue (1)

jmorris42 (1458) | about 2 years ago | (#41013811)

Do the math on the volume a gigabyte of data on paper take would consume. Now go look at the size of the source repository even for a crappy little Android game. Not practical.

UPS Datacenter (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41013673)

I once toured one of THE TWO UPS datacenters that could run for a week on its own diesel generators. They figured that after a week, they could get more fuel to their generators if need be, but you also have to think that if things are so bad that critical infrastructure like the UPS operations cannot get power back after a week, then there is probably a disaster so big that the data might not mean much to anybody for much longer.

In the same way, if things are so bad with data drives and computers being destroyed everywhere in the world, who do you think is going to give a crap about being able to play your game?

Re:UPS Datacenter (1)

jmorris42 (1458) | about 2 years ago | (#41013763)

Yes but UPS must stay running because the only way to recover from such a disaster is for UPS, FedEx and such to stay running. Under the martial law that would follow such an event the military would be ensuring they get priority access to whatever fuel can be obtained. That is why they figure on a week. If they can't get more in that time it is truly game over anyway. And anyway, the datacenter without fuel for the trucks and planes wouldn't help a lot.

Re:UPS Datacenter (2)

cowboy76Spain (815442) | about 2 years ago | (#41013993)

Yes but UPS must stay running because the only way to recover from such a disaster is for UPS, FedEx and such to stay running. Under the martial law that would follow such an event the military would be ensuring they get priority access to whatever fuel can be obtained. That is why they figure on a week. If they can't get more in that time it is truly game over anyway. And anyway, the datacenter without fuel for the trucks and planes wouldn't help a lot.

Yes, because humanitarian aid, heavy repair machinery and qualified personnel will be delivered by UPS... go figure. Ah, and UPS workstations, communication networks (including wireless) and electricity and fuel will come from a diferent network that won't be affected by such an event.

The seven day figure is good for a minor local catastrophe event (a tornado, floodings, earthquake) or even just unreliable power suppliers. But the real reason is that, in case the shit hits the fan, UPS CIO can go to the board and claim that he had the datacenters protected against anything that could be expected.

Re:UPS Datacenter (1)

omnichad (1198475) | about 2 years ago | (#41014157)

If all the computers fry, UPS isn't much better than a guy with a truck. Can UPS planes even fly if their avionics are fried?

Re:UPS Datacenter (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | about 2 years ago | (#41013983)

In the same way, if things are so bad with data drives and computers being destroyed everywhere in the world, who do you think is going to give a crap about being able to play your game?

And even if they care, they aren't going to be able to, even if you've preserved your source code.

Optical? (2)

florescent_beige (608235) | about 2 years ago | (#41013687)

How would optical be wiped by e/m radiation? As for magnetic, as long as there is no physical damage taking place (I'm no Carrington event specialist, but it doesn't seem as if high energy particles do the damage, just warpage of Earth's magnetic field (someone can correct me if I'm wrong)) wouldn't any old Faraday cage do? I wouldn't be surprised if the metal drawers in safety deposit boxes would be sufficient.

Re:Optical? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41013965)

Spinning disk and "the cloud" may be quick for backups, but spinning disk and the cloud are (1) fragile, and (2) hackable.

Actually, tapes in a vault are your best best. Anything surrounded by metal (Farraday cage) will be isolated from huge electrical fluxes which could degauss the tapes. Like your link states, even if there isn't a "full" Carrington event that electrocutes people touching wires, I can imagine a "half Carrington" easily overwhelming electrical systems and frying every hard drive in a data center. Remember, the surge protectors are limiting the difference between "hot" (and neutral) with "ground" -- so if "ground" is also elevated by a few hundred volts, and that juice passes through to the drive controllers, you've got slag.

I hope it is obvious that platitudes like "the cloud is redundant" does not apply to situations like this, where (1) enterprise datacenters are toast, and (2) connectivity everywhere is out for a significant timeframe.

Personally, I think it is more likely that your backup files would get deleted; either accidentally by someone internal, or through hackers. For those situations, too, tapes are your friend. No one can delete or hack into a tape on the shelf!

I've used many backup tools, but IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) has good price/performance, scales to from small to very large enterprise, and is very efficient in tape use. Couple that software with an LTO tape library, and one or more vaults, and you are as safe as you can get. If you're using TSM, I'd be more concerned about having any CPUs and memory (after the event) to restore the data!

Re:Optical? (2, Informative)

clintp (5169) | about 2 years ago | (#41014015)

How would optical be wiped by e/m radiation?

1. Find a CD or a DVD with your valuable source code on it.
2. Take the media to your kitchen. Insert media into microwave oven.
3. Turn microwave on exposing media to EM radiation.

Re:Optical? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41014047)

Try putting your optical disc in a microwave oven and turn the oven on for a few seconds. The nifty electric arcing you see is the result of e/m radiation.

Whether the sun (or a space-based nuclear bomb) would produce enough e/m radiation to produce this effect is another issue.

have you never put a CD in the microwave? (1)

Chirs (87576) | about 2 years ago | (#41014057)

The induced electric currents burn up the reflective layer.

That said, any solar flare strong enough to zap CDs is likely going to cause major issues for people as well.

Re:Optical? (1)

omnichad (1198475) | about 2 years ago | (#41014173)

Maybe they wouldn't. But not having a drive to read it in could be a problem.

Faraday cage made easy (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41013691)

Wrap your USB flash drive in aluminum foil. You are all set. For extra points, make an aluminum hat to keep out the bad thoughts.

PaperBak (1)

MetricT (128876) | about 2 years ago | (#41013709)

http://olydbg.de/Paperbak/ [olydbg.de]

In theory, if civilization is destroyed by the Flame Deluge, the monks should be able to reconstruct your data on paper using nothing more than a magnifying glass.

Argh, link in original post is a typo (2)

MetricT (128876) | about 2 years ago | (#41013735)

Re:Argh, link in original post is a typo (1)

idontgno (624372) | about 2 years ago | (#41013795)

If you're planning your paper-based backup to survive the Great Flame Deluge, you might wanna use fireproof paper. Lots of it.

But for Carrington 2.0, I guess regular paper would work, as long as induced current arcing doesn't burn down wherever your backups are stored.

Re:PaperBak (1)

cowboy76Spain (815442) | about 2 years ago | (#41014019)

They should really hurry themselves. Even in good conditions paper desintegrates slowly and, for what I have read, paper made since the 50s has a higher acidic composition that makes it even less durable.

Just a disk backup in your safe... (3, Informative)

nweaver (113078) | about 2 years ago | (#41013721)

A steel box is a perfectly good Faraday cage. Its a small antenna cross section, so you'll effectively get no effects inside the box.

So if you are paranoid enough to care, just keep a backup of your data in your safe. Which you want to do anyway, since that helps mitigate many many many more risks to your data than a big solar storm.

How about something more plausible (5, Insightful)

onyxruby (118189) | about 2 years ago | (#41013771)

I think people should really be designing for a more plausible and real world scenario that happens far more often. The man made scenario known as a court order. Companies like Ontrack do far more business recovering data for court order subpoenas than they do for floods or fires.

Seriously, you can put your data on RAID 6 arrays to mitigate against disk failure. You can back up your data to mitigate against a disaster at a site. You can distribute your data to multiple sites to mitigate your risk from flood or hurricane or similar disaster.

Can you comply with a court order seizure of your data, hand over everything that is required and still operate? If you can do this than you have a pretty good disaster recovery plan. If you can't do this than you don't have a good disaster recovery plan and it's the one disaster than in the real world strikes businesses more often than just about anything else.

Yes, I have been involved with this kind of thing more than once, and you really don't want to mess about a court order.

Re:How about something more plausible (1)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | about 2 years ago | (#41013937)

How can you go about doing this? Wouldn't any backups you make by definition fall under the order? It seems like such a court order would completely shut your company down until all proceedings were over, which could be for years.

How to stop Carrington events (5, Funny)

maroberts (15852) | about 2 years ago | (#41013789)

how could you protect data to survive a modern day Carrington event?

Ban reruns of Dynasty on TV?

Three reasons not to worry (2)

Anaerin (905998) | about 2 years ago | (#41013801)

Unless your computer is in an all-acrylic case, the metal shell acts as rather a nice Faraday Cage. Given that the atmosphere protected most of the equipment on the ground during the last event (Bastille Day, 2000) you should be just fine. And finally, as the last one was in 2000, and they're due every 500 years, you'll be good for a while.

Last reason is a fail (3, Insightful)

maroberts (15852) | about 2 years ago | (#41013931)

And finally, as the last one was in 2000, and they're due every 500 years, you'll be good for a while.

One presumes that these events are totally random processes and like dice, the fact you rolled two 6s last go has no effect on whether you'll roll two 6s this time.
Assuming that to be true, you could just as easily get one next year as in 500 years.

Missing sense of scale (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41013805)

The geomagnetic effects of a solar storm is very large, in terms of physical extent, but still relatively slow, small changes in terms of magnetic field amplitude. In a crude sense, you can think of the voltage induced in a loop of wire from a changing magnetic field. The voltage is proportional to the area, size of change in magnetic field, and how fast the field changes (inversely proportional to the time the change takes). The second and third factors are already quite small. The only reason it affects power grids, is due to their large size, allowing for a accumulating the effect of magnetic field changes over a wide area. This isn't going to affect small devices on the surface of the Earth, short of temporary power loss and possible loss of satellites from increased particle flux in space.

So how do you protect equipment like hard drives and computers from geomagnetic storms? Don't hook up antennas to them that are miles long. Or if you do plug them into the power grid, protection circuits are pretty simple for over voltage issues. So simple, a lot of power grid equipment has such circuit breakers, which is the reason they probably will go down from a major storm: not from damage, but from protection circuits pulling the plug when conditions go too far out of spec.

don't worry (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41013819)

If such an event deleted all your backups, then you would be without of business anyway as everything would go offline...
So, continue with your normal backups and go spend your free time to relax...

OK, I'll Bite (5, Insightful)

carpwall (595270) | about 2 years ago | (#41013839)

Let's just get the promotion out of the way.. sigh.. what's the name of your game company and what game did you just release?

Re:OK, I'll Bite (1, Informative)

Desler (1608317) | about 2 years ago | (#41014081)

Kactus Games [kactusgames.com.au] . I really doubt the world would care if the source code to his not even released game was lost.

750ML of perspective (1)

Fly_Boy (102253) | about 2 years ago | (#41013843)

May I ask what exactly you plan to do with this source code after every IC on the planet has been rendered inoperative? You will likely have other priorities following such an event.

If You're Serious, Just Get a Safety Deposit Box (0)

darkmeridian (119044) | about 2 years ago | (#41013847)

It would be incredibly paranoid to think that a solar flare would destroy hard drives and OPTICAL DISKS but if you want to allay your fears cheaply, burn copies of your source code on a DVD, then onto a hard drive, then on an SSD hard drive, and then onto a USB key drive. Then apply for a safety deposit box at a bank that holds them in the basement. A basement bank vault will serve as a very good Faraday cage indeed. Having the data stored in multiple forms would help against a solar flare.

NOTE that you have traded security of one sort at the expense of security of the other sort. With so many copies of your company's lifeblood floating around, you are at risk of having that information getting stolen. Most people use trade secrets to protect their code. If you are careless about it, and let everyone keep a copy of your source code, then it's really not a "secret" and that's a prerequisite to asserting "trade secrets". Therefore, you should minimize the number of copies floating around. Centralize all the source code onto a server with a RAID array. Put access control methods onto the RAID array. Make an on-site backup onto a separate RAID array. (For instance, the server should have a RAID 5 array, and it should back up onto a NAS with a RAID 5 array.) Make off-site copies of the backup server. For instance, put an encrypted copy of the backup onto a HDD and drop that off into the bank vault.

True near-extinction planning. (4, Funny)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 2 years ago | (#41013857)

So, the big event happens, many people are dead and all computer technology has been wiped out.

How to properly prepare your backups? The trick is to really think about what is the core mission of your company... obviously, you build games now so the company will survive.

So how to ensure the company will survive in the event most customers are dead and computers nearly non-exstant? Quite obviously, it is to be the leaders of the next rise in civilization.

This means ensuring a good supply of arms, and training for each person in the company so that you can arise as the natural leaders from the ashes of civilization.

You should probably also harden the building, and lay in a year of food so the company can sit safe while civilization steadies into a steady state outside. To ensure you can really hold out that long, make sure your company is housed in a large building with a flat roof, that no-one can see from the outside (a 10 foot extension to the walls on the roof may work). Then put enough dirt on the roof that you can grow crops and raise goats/chickens.

As a game company you stand a better chance of ruling civilization than most. You'll have better reflexes, and of course who has thought more about post-apocolyic matters than a modern game developer?

Good luck, and I look forward to living in servitude under your wise rule.

Attack surface (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41013869)

So you're telling that you've essentially multiplied by several factors the attack surface for whoever might want to steal your blood...sorry your code ?
If you're REALLY that paranoid, you should evaluate the risk factors and protect against large probabilities.
As such you're not looking like someone who wants to protect the code, but someone who wants to protect himself against blame. Start being efficient.

Two things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41013875)

Two things
1. Don't buy too much into the hype. You've got multiple backups across multiple locations. That's about as good as it gets.
2. If you really believe magnetic and optical media won't protect your data, print off your source code. Good old fashioned paper and ink isn't going to be harmed by solar flares. Granted, you won't want to do this backup often, but if things get so bad you ever need to use a paper backup then restoring to a recent point in time will be the least of your worries.

if people die i hope my source code survives (-1, Troll)

alen (225700) | about 2 years ago | (#41013879)

wouldn't it be cool if everyone died but your code survived? it would be on the next season of Life After People

you're a MORON. i joke about DR with people all the time. i get daily emails about spending ridiculous amounts of money on DR. sure it works for fortune 500 international megacorps and financial exchanges but for smaller companies it makes no sense to spend a lot on DR. if a nuclear bomb goes off in NYC or an 8 magnitude earthquake happens my concern is my family, not going to Philly to get DR running. like i'm going to dump my wife and kids and hope they survive just to go do DR
who cares, in the ensuing depression most of our customers will go out of business anyway which means my employer probably going belly up

What is wrong with paper? (2)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#41013883)

It would take some time to retype all the code but at least it would not be lost.

As for audio and video recordings, they would be lost unless you can find some way to record them on a non-erasable format like a vinyl record. RCA developed a record that could store video but the quality was no better than VHS. With MPEG4 compression that could be upped to HD quality, but you would still lose a lot of high frequency movie content (1080i =/= 2000p of today's movies).
.

Re:What is wrong with paper? (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 years ago | (#41014045)

As for audio and video recordings, they would be lost unless you can find some way to record them on a non-erasable format like a vinyl record. RCA developed a record that could store video but the quality was no better than VHS. .

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slow-scan_television [wikipedia.org]

Come to think of it, SSTV vinyls sound like kind of a neat thing to do anyway, just for kicks...

With MPEG4 compression that could be upped to HD quality, but you would still lose a lot of high frequency movie content (1080i =/= 2000p of today's movies).

If all we're talking about is preserving current knowledge for future societies to grep from our ashes, something tells me video quality will not be a major priority.

Re:What is wrong with paper? (1)

Desler (1608317) | about 2 years ago | (#41014147)

With MPEG4 compression that could be upped to HD quality, but you would still lose a lot of high frequency movie content (1080i =/= 2000p of today's movies).

Then encode it to a higher resolution than 1080p. Wow, that was a hard solution...

(plus one InformatiYve) (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41013895)

Pulling my plonker? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41013905)

Seriously. You are pulling my plonker aren't you?

Do you think *anyone* gives a rat's ass about some indie game (company) with such a natural disaster on our hands? Do you think your biggest worries during and after such an event will be your indie game source code?

Dude. Get a fucking grip!

On reflection. This must be a stupid, immature 20-something asking this question.

How about Stone Disks for the Stone Age? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41013915)

These should last longer than civilization:

http://www.techspot.com/news/45006-m-discs-stone-like-optical-discs-that-are-nearly-indestructible.html

You are worrying about the wrong stuff (1)

a-zarkon! (1030790) | about 2 years ago | (#41013923)

An electro magnetic event (man-made or natural) that is sufficiently powerful enough to corrupt magnetically stored data is also more than likely going to be sufficiently powerful to really mess with everything that relies on microprocessors to work.

There has been some proposals around requiring the electric industry to harden their infrastructure and systems to deal with this type of event. Assume the utilities do manage to somehow fund this type of hardening (which would be a massive undertaking in both time and expense). You still need to ask yourself what is going to be left to consume this power. The event is likely to leave many if not most things inoperable on a very wide scale. This means cell phones, computers, televisions, air conditioners, refrigerators, stoves. Any car made after around 1980 is probably also a non-starter. So there's power available, but not much left to consume it. Even if you have protected your data and your data center and have power, what percentage of companies have not?

This would be a hugely disruptive event that would take massive effort and years to recover from for any modern society. Maybe when the dust settles it might be nice to know what you have in your 401(k) and how much back taxes you owe; but then again it's equally possible that all this stuff will be irrelevant in the "new normal."

I agree that this is not an "extinction event" but it could very easily be sufficient to significantly change the political and societal landscape.

If all electronics and data are lost... (1)

browndizzle (2709539) | about 2 years ago | (#41013929)

Then what is the point in having a back up of your source code then? By the time the world recovered from such a catastrophic event to the global network, your games would be useless. Not that it isn't fun to think about, but you are redundant enough.

Wait, what? (0)

DragonWriter (970822) | about 2 years ago | (#41013945)

I run a small indie game company, and since source code is kind of our lifeblood, I'm pretty paranoid about backups. [...] With all the talk about solar flares and other such near-extinction events lately, I've been wondering: is it actually possible to store or protect data in such a way that if such an event occurred, data survives and is recoverable in a useful form?

I don't know, but I'm baffled by the priorities that would have you looking to preserve the source code of a small indie game company against near-extinction level events and present that as something motivated by business priorities ("since source code is kind of our lifeblood.")

It seems to me that there are a near-infinite panoply of risks that are vastly more likely to materialize that are much more fruitful to mitigate, such that the marginal benefit of mitigating that particular risk for an indie game company is very small (especially considering that mitigating the risk to your company's source code from a near-extinction level event won't address the fact that such an event would still eliminate your market, your systems of delivering goods to that market, and the financial and social systems -- including property rights regimes -- underpinning that market.)

 

if it really is a near-extinction event (1)

ILongForDarkness (1134931) | about 2 years ago | (#41013961)

What are the chances that you still care about data and aren't preoccupied scrapping the skin tumors off you third hand?

With common sense (1)

Roger W Moore (538166) | about 2 years ago | (#41013967)

With all the talk about solar flares and other such near-extinction events lately...how could you protect data to survive a modern day Carrington event?

Two things to consider. First if the Carrington event was a near-extinction event why did the world's population survive intact (with the exception of a few unfortunately telegraph operators)? Second if a vast majority of the earth's population did die (i.e. a real near-extinction event) why would the survivors be interested in your video game data? In addition if the EM disturbance is so great that it erases hard drives everyone's computers will also have fried so even if they were somehow interested in the midst of dealing with an unprecedented global disaster they would not have any capability to use it.

So I'd stick with just coping with ordinary disasters which affect, as an upper level, your local town or city. In fact even something like the Carrington event, while hugely disruptive to power grids and communications is unlikely to be powerful enough to affect computers and, given that we would likely have a day or so notice there would be time to power them down and make a tinfoil hat for them. So important stuff could be protected.

Store backups underground (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41013971)

You could store your backups underground. The US government has underground installations that can survive not only a nuclear attack,but also the EMP (electromagnetic pulse) from any nuclear explosion. If your backup can survive an EMP, it would survive a solar flare. You wouldn't need to make it nuclear explosion proof--if that happened, you'd be wanting to save something other than your data.

Old is best (1)

arthurpaliden (939626) | about 2 years ago | (#41013997)

Punch cards. Fire proof and water resistant punch chars. Oh and bug proof.

Off-Site Backup + DVD Backups = Pretty Safe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41014003)

Between those 2 you have pretty much got yourself covered. Unless you are leaving an archive for humanity's successors, you don't need to take it any further than that.

Perhaps solving the wrong problem? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41014017)

From OP:
"I run a small indie game company, and since source code is kind of our lifeblood, I'm pretty paranoid about backups.
[snip]
How could you protect data to survive a modern day Carrington event?"

Just pointing out that if there were a true Carrington event, it won't make a whit of difference if your games company's data is recoverable or not. Who are you going to sell to? And what would they play your games on?

CDs and DVDs are not magnetic (1)

1u3hr (530656) | about 2 years ago | (#41014035)

CDs and DVDs are not magnetic.

Any event energetic enough to erase them will also erase all life on the planet.

Stone tablets (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41014055)

Assuming that apple does not have a patent on them too, use stone tablets, they worked for thousands of years...

genetically (3, Funny)

WillgasM (1646719) | about 2 years ago | (#41014073)

Just create a new form of life and embed your source code in its DNA. Then build a rocket/ion drive/stasis chamber to deliver your new life form to a neighboring star where it can then land and seed life on another planet. The real bitch is starting all over every time you release a patch.

Paper! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41014087)

How feasible would printing everything with very tiny font that is still scannable be?

Easy problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41014105)

Simple. Encrypt it, mark the file TOP SECRET and put it on a website. Wikileaks will pick it up and post it worldwide in a matter of days. :-)

Don't keep all your eggs in one basket. (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 2 years ago | (#41014125)

In short: Get your ass to Mars!

This is slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41014139)

Clearly the solution is to open-source all of your games and seed the source code.

Dude, don't worry... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41014143)

if the world ends, nobody is going to want your games anyway...

Huh? (1)

mcl630 (1839996) | about 2 years ago | (#41014195)

If there were a Carrington event (or worse a "near extinction" event), would anyone care about indie-games?

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