Disaster Recovery From the Perspective of Pixar and DreamWorks

Kid with Airplane
A toy cowboy and an overly-confident spaceman taught us the value of friendship. 

An old man and a boy scout taught us that the adventure never ends.

A dragon taught us that things aren't always as they seem. 

A kung fu-loving panda taught us to look inward to find our strength.

All of these lessons came from the creative minds at Pixar Animation Studios and DreamWorks. These companies also have lessons to teach us through their different approaches to disaster recovery. 

Pixar's Disaster Recovery Nightmare


In 2012, Pixar experienced a disaster recovery nightmare when its files, containing two months and hundreds of hours of work for “Toy Story 2,” were accidentally deleted.

“The command that had been run was most likely ‘rm -r -f *’, which commands the system to begin removing every file below the current directory,” said Oren Jacob, the associate technical director for “Toy Story 2.” This is commonly used to clear out a subset of unwanted files. Unfortunately, someone on the system had run the command at the root level of the 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."

Backups were available, but unfortunately, they weren't up-to-date. By a stroke of luck, Pixar was able to recover the entire movie. Read the full story here.

Lesson Learned

You should not only regularly backup your data, but confirm through testing that your backup methods are working, because sometimes, technology fails us. 

DreamWorks' Disaster Recovery Dream Come True


DreamWorks is taking proactive planning measures to protect its animated movie files by partnering with the city of Glendale, CA — the state with the second highest number of earthquakes in the U.S. — to build a disaster recovery program called “Back to Business.” The program aims to provide a localized recovery for businesses affected by disasters. (You can learn more about it here.)

Lesson Learned

DreamWorks teaches us that businesses must be proactive in planning for the unexpected, because disasters can strike at any moment. It’s vital to have up-to-date backup files of business-critical data and to have a plan in place in the event of a disaster.

So even though Pixar and DreamWorks have taken different approaches to disaster recovery, they both teach us one thing: it's important to be proactive in finding a solution for backing up and protecting your data. What steps are you taking to protect your data?