Studio history is riddled with a number of catastrophes commonly referred to as data loss events, including hard disk failures and natural disasters, where the event is known, is believed, or was once believed to have caused the destruction of intellectual property. Below is a timeline of such events currently recognized by studio historians. You can click any entry in the timeline to read more about that event and any affected intellectual property.

Historical Context and Macro Effects

From the beginning, IT Manager John Phillips had impressed upon Ted and Nick Phillips the importance of backing up data. However, it was often difficult to perform backups prior to summer 2000, because the primary backup media available was 3.5" floppy disks, which could only hold 1.44 MB each, and the concept of using compressed archives or split archives was not well known. Still, backing up some files would require tens of floppy disks using this technique, and it was not uncommon to lose 1 disk in a set this large. Thus backing up data using floppy disks tended only to be used when data needed to be shared across multiple systems. It was also cost-prohibitive to use external hard drives for backup purposes, since most new drives at the time still provided less than 1 GB of storage space and cost hundreds of dollars each. The prohibitive costs also resulted in most important data being stored on a system drive rather than a separate data drive, leading data to be vulnerable to operating system corruption.

In summer 2000, in the aftermath of the Crash of 1999, Ted Phillips invested a significant portion of his savings to purchase a Cendyne CD writer for the studios. However, even though this provided a way to backup larger amounts of data, since CDs were write-once, most frequently-updated data was still infrequently backed up.

With lackluster data storage and backup policies and repeated events in 1999, 2001, 2002, and 2003, this has meant that most digital projects and other important data from before 2003 have not survived to this day.

Beginning in 2003, the studio systems were replaced with more reliable onces, and one with a CD drive capable of using re-writable disks. This led to more data being preserved. However, even the orders-of-magnitude larger 120 GB hard drive was quickly filled, leading to original source files often being deleted as projects were completed, in order to make room for new projects.

Around Christmas 2003, the studio replaced the CD writer with a DVD writer. In theory, this further increased the potential size of backups, but this writer was mostly used to package video releases and later to transfer large amounts of data from one system to another.

In summer 2005, the studio systems were redesigned again, this time separating system and data volumes, and increasing available space into the multiple TB range; thus, beginning in 2005, source data could be preserved indefinitely and much was thereafter resilient to operating system corruption. As a result, most data from 2005 and later is still extant today.

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