University loses 77TB of research data due to backup error

Kyoto University in Japan lost around 77TB of research data due to an error in the backup system of its Hewlett-Packard supercomputer.

The incident happened between December 14-16, 2021 and resulted in the deletion of 34 million files from 14 hunt groups from the system and from the backup file.

After investigating to determine the impact of the loss, the university concluded that the work of four of the affected groups could no longer be restored.

All affected users were individually notified of the incident via email, but no details were released on the type of work lost.

For the moment, the backup process has been stopped. To prevent data loss from happening again, the university has removed the backup system and plans to apply improvements and reintroduce it in January 2022.

The plan is also to keep incremental backups – which cover files that have changed since the last backup – in addition to full backup mirrors.

Supercomputing is expensive

Although details of the type of data lost have not been disclosed to the public, the supercomputer search costs several hundred dollars per hour, so this incident must have caused distress to the groups involved.

The Kyoto Supercomputer Cluster
Kyoto University Supercomputer Cluster
Source: Kyoto University

Kyoto University is considered one of the most important research institutions in Japan and enjoys the second largest investment in scientific research through national grants.

Its excellence and importance in research is particularly distinctive in the field of chemistry, where it ranks fourth in the world, while also contributing to biology, pharmacology, immunology, materials science and science. physics.

We have asked Kyoto University to share more details about the incident and its impact on research groups, but have yet to hear back.

Japan in the lead

Japan currently has the most powerful supercomputer in the world, called “Fugaku”, operated by the Riken Center for Computational Science in Kobe.

Fugaku is an exascale system manufactured by Fujitsu, capable of computing performance of 442 PFLOPS. The second on the world list, IBM’s “Summit”, can reach a much smaller figure of 148 PFLOPS.

Fugaku cost $ 1.2 billion to build and has so far been used for COVID-19 research, diagnostics, therapies and simulations of virus spread.

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