Data Lost: I Just Lost My Entire Database, Help?!

mssql-delete-dbOn a one fine morning a few days back, we had a call from one of our customers saying that they are unable to access the ProLine database after updating ProLine to the latest version. In two words – data lost.

The system uses Microsoft SQL Server to store its database.

After a panicky phone conversation, we did what we need, that is doing the investigation on their machine and found:

  1. We suspect that the user (which have administrator access) ran the “ProLine Database Generator” utility instead. There is no way the database can be wiped off easily.
  2. The utility is meant to recreate a new database and just clicked “Next >” until completion while ignoring the bolded “DELETE & replace existing database?” warning notice; which causes the existing database to be replaced with an empty new database.
  3. What the utility does is drop the target database and then load the SQL scripts that will populate the database with tables and default parameters.
  4. The server’s daily ProLine database backup folder is totally empty, there are no backup files found.
  5. This is when we started to sweat! The ProLine database backup program has been uninstalled.

Then we asked the client whether there are any backups on an external hard-disk (it is our standard practice to getting clients to connect a USB hard-disk as a backup).

Guess what? No backups. Data lost! Gone.

With no available backups on hand, the current situation is a DISASTER!

How do we get the database back at the point before all this happened?

This is when things get really panicky. Our client, the staff, the boss and my bosses are getting sweaty by now.

Of course, we can easily blame the client that they did not made any backups and they didn’t care either. But being professional, we try not to go that route not to conclude its data lost, yet.

Even googling and searching for answers everywhere does not give any clue. The only answer is: Sorry, you’re out of luck. No backup, no cure.

Not giving up though, we stayed calm, knowing that our client is “really” depending on us for a fix to their problem.

Restore Previous VersionAnd suddenly, we remembered there is another way. To use the built-in Windows Restore feature “Previous version of file” or “File History”.

The first step is to right-click on the database files and check its properties for “Previous versions”.
For this case, we are fortunate that there are copies of the older version before this disastrous event happened.

We stopped the MSSQL service, copied out the older database files and replaced the unusable database files.

After starting the MSSQL service, ProLine database login is successful and all data is back online, as though as the accident did not happened! No data lost.

Wow, what a BIG relief!

It just felt like a doctor, bringing a dead person back to life. The best feeling one can get, just like when reaching the peak of mount Everest!

Then we reinstalled the ProLine database backup program and configured it to backup to an external hard-disk as well. We had such incidents few times over our support history. Now the client is more aware of the importance of backup, after the traumatic event.

But it would be good if there is a better way to have our clients to be aware, without going through such trauma. Just a wish!

Data lost is inevitable. It can happen in many ways. But backup is the only rock-solid solution until today.

Thanks to the Windows File Versioning feature that allows to restore back to older version, which is the last hope that we have. But we would not be solely depending on that as a recovery plan.

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