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College intern mistakenly deletes 5-years of data; supervisor is mortified.

College intern mistakenly deletes 5-years of data; supervisor is mortified.


College internships are usually the only way for most college students to get work experience. Typically, interns do the grunt work, grab a coffee, and sit in on meetings. Usually, the more critical work is done by full-time staff.

On a popular Reddit thread in the Today I F*cked Up Subreddit, an intern messes up big time on a simple task.

They write:

Last week when I was interning at my university's IT department. So I'm a 3rd-year Computer Science student doing an internship to get some experience.

Mostly I've been doing simple tech support and handling basic issues. My supervisor asked me to clean up some old files on one of the servers to free up space. He left for a meeting, and I got to work.

Now I know my way around Linux and servers; I thought this would be easy. As I deleted old log files and backups, I accidentally typed 'rm -rf *' into the wrong directory. I instantly realized my mistake, but it was too late. I had just wiped every single file on the central database server.

Panic set in. Five years of records, course materials, enrollment info, you name it - gone in ten seconds of stupidity. I broke into a cold sweat, paralyzed, not knowing what to do.

The server was redundant so that data could be restored from backups, but those were in the hands of another department. I had to confess to my supervisor what just happened.

He turned ghostly white and swore a bit but then focused on contacting the backup admins to start an emergency restoration. I spent the rest of the week helping get data back online and apologizing profusely.

At the end of my internship, my supervisor said I caused some of the most dramatic on-the-job experiences he's ever witnessed but appreciated how I owned up to my mistake and helped fix it. While they'll be double-checking any commands I enter from now on, I'm still welcome back again next term!

Lesson learned: Be VERY careful when wielding powerful commands, especially on production servers. RIP data; you will not be forgotten! I will always be haunted by that 'rm -rf.'

The internet has traditions for f*ck ups.

ucrross says:

In a past job, in the days before content management systems, whenever someone did something that took down some or all of the university's web presence (which seemed to happen alarmingly often), they received 'The Hammer.'

It was shared with the message 'Congratulations, You Have Broken the Internet. Here's the Hammer.' It is my honor to present The Hammer to you, OP.

The one rule of The Hammer is that you must hold onto it until the next person has broken the internet. Keep the tradition alive.

Temp89 says:

Meh, I blame the uni for having a setup where an intern's careless mistake can put all their data at risk.

crowdude28 says:

Great outcome! I am always nervous I'll forget the WHERE clause in an sql update or delete.

OP, it could've been worse! You could've also deleted the backups!

Sources: Reddit
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