The Importance of Having a Backup Plan: Lessons from Toy Story 2’s Data Recovery

Toy Story 2 is a beloved movie, but few people know the behind-the-scenes story of how Pixar almost lost the entire movie. A simple human error nearly cost Pixar the entire movie. 

The lesson is clear: having a backup plan or two is essential in any industry, including the investment world.

The Importance of Backing Up Data

Data is the foundation of many businesses, including those in the investment industry. The loss of important data, such as financial reports or investment portfolios, can be catastrophic. 

Backup plans are critical to protect against data loss because of accidents, cyber-attacks, or other unforeseen events.

Lessons from Toy Story 2’s Data Recovery

In 1998, Pixar was working on Toy Story 2, which was intended as a direct-to-video sequel. When executives saw the early footage, they upgraded the movie to a theatrical release. 

The crew scrambled to get the picture ready when the unimaginable happened. An employee entered a command (‘rm -r -f *) which accidentally deleted 90% of the movie’s files. 

“Unfortunately, someone on the system had run the command at the root level of the Toy Story 2 project and the system was recursively tracking down through the file structure and deleting its way out like a worm eating its way out from the core of an apple.” -Oren Jacob, former Pixar CTO, who was an assistant technical director on the film. 

“He [Larry Cutler] had an error… It was like, ‘Directory no longer valid,’ because he’s in a place that had just been deleted. Then he thought to walk up [a directory] and he walked back up and then we saw Hamm, Potato Head, and Rex. Then we looked at it again and there was just Hamm and then nothing.

“Then we saw sequences start to vanish as well, and we were like, ‘Oh my god.’”

Toy Story 2, at that point, was nearly done. The last two months had hundreds of hours’ worth of final edits to prepare the movie for release. Now, 90% of the movie was gone. 

To make matters worse, Pixar’s backup system had stopped working the previous month. 

Completely devastating the crew, but luckily, there was another backup. 

Galyn Susman, the supervising technical director, was working from home in order to care for her newborn. The team found a two-week old backup file on her computer. Toy Story 2 was saved and shared with studio bosses. Where, despite the efforts to save it, was promptly scrapped with the script and the animation re-tweaked to the version we all know today. 

Aside from the movie’s retooling, Pixar learned a valuable lesson. 

They implemented changes to their backup plan, including regular backups to an off-site location.

I don’t want that to happen to me. How do I prevent that?

There are three steps in creating an effective backup plan:

  • Assess the data you need to back up
  • Settle on a schedule that fits your needs
  • Decide on a backup solution that is best for the job 

It’s important to verify your backup strategy regularly to ensure that it is functioning properly. And that you can restore data if it is required.

The Importance of Regularly Reviewing Your Backup Plan

Backup plans are not a one-time event. It’s important to regularly review and update your plan to ensure that it remains effective. As your business evolves, so should your backup plan. Remember, the Pixar team didn’t save Toy Story 2 with one backup plan. 

In investments, as in any other field, it’s essential to have a backup plan. Angel Investors, Inc. recommends that you review your backup strategy and change it as needed to keep your data safe. 

Toy Story 2 teaches us that data loss can occur at any time. And backups will always save the day. 

Now grab a tissue and a few hours to rewatch Toy Story 2. After backing up all of your data, of course!

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