Cloud Storage is a crucial business service which ensures data security and data protection and recovery in the event of a disaster.

What Happened to Ma.gnolia? The Autopsy

Larry Halff’s social media website ma.gnolia.com is gone.

He spent four years during which he, “devoted most of my time, energy, and love” to building the site. Users of the site had built intellectual and social capital through the bookmarks, groups, and connections they made. Many users had even purchased premium feature subscriptions.

So, what happened to Ma.gnolia. Here, from what we have learned, is the autopsy:

Magnolia had about 500GB of data in a MySQL database. There were two instances of the database on two separate servers. Each server had a RAID configured to protect the data.

The primary database was replicated from the primary server to the secondary server using a firewire connection. Sounds good…so what went wrong?

The MySQL database suffered some file system corruption. We don’t know if that corruption was at the operating system level or within the MySQL database itself. Both scenarios are possible and lead to very similar outcomes. Assuming that reliable hardware was in use, there is not much that Magnolia could have done to avoid this problem.

But there were three significant mistakes which led to the demise of Magnolia.

First, whenever data is replicated, it MUST also be backed up. The distinction being that replication happens in near real-time, so any corruption in the primary data is replicated to the secondary data almost immediately.  But most good backup solutions offer versioning, meaning you can drop back to an earlier version of the data – hopefully earlier than when the corruption occurred.

Second, Magnolia admittedly did not test their backup strategy. Given the scenario used, it would have been difficult to test, but it is more than prudent to test. You really must test.

Finally, Magnolia did not have any offsite data storage. Having a remote backup would have saved the day.

We wish Larry and Magnolia’s users the best going forward.

Leave a Reply