In honor of the upcoming World Backup Day, our all time favorite holiday, we decided to look back through history in search of real events that reinforce the importance of backing up the things we find valuable. After all, in the words of George Santayana, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Ernest Hemingway’s Lost Writings
In 1922, while riding a train to Switzerland, Hadley Hemingway, the first of Ernest Hemingway’s four wives, lost her husband’s suitcase containing nearly all of his writings that he had written at the time, including a partially-completed novel on World War I. For Hemingway, the loss was devastating. In fact, it is rumored to have lead to his divorcing Hadley. Sadly, Hemingway never attempted to rewrite the lost works, which I imagine were brimming with manly greatness.
Royal Navy Lose Applicant Data
In 2008, the Ministry of Defense reported a laptop had been stolen from the automobile of a Royal Navy officer. What’s the big deal? Said laptop contained the private details (passport info, medical records, bank account numbers) of some 600K applicants to the British armed forces. The incident lead to worldwide criticism of the the MOD’s security measures (or lack thereof). None of the data was encrypted. The laptop was never recovered.
One Man’s Trash is Another Woman’s Treasure
In 2010, the world learned the story of an elderly British woman whom, after playing the lottery nearly every week, had finally won nearly $181 million in the Euromillions. Unfortunately, she never saw a dime. Why? According to said woman, her husband had “binned” the ticket before they winning numbers were announced. She knew she had picked the winning numbers because every week, she recorded her selected numbers on a separate sheet of paper before she hands the tickets over to her husband for “safe keeping.” At the time, it was the biggest jackpot the Europe-wide lottery had ever offered. I bet she would have paid $100 million for a duplicate of that ticket.
The Question of the Q Document
The Q Document (from the German word “quelle” meaning “source”) is argued to be one of most influential religious pieces ever (allegedly) recorded. It is basically a collection of Jesus Christ sayings that are thought to have defined much of the “common” material found in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. So where did it go? There are many theories on this, but the short answer is that no one knows. In the 2nd century, it wasn’t protocol for scribes to make two copies of scriptures. Things were pretty manual back in those days. If “Q” does truly exist, you better believe the church wished someone had made a backup copy.
What did we learn for these stories today? That backing up the things we care about is a timeless and universal method for preventing devastating, life-altering loss.