Crash at academic cloud service Dedoose may wipe out weeks of research


Social scientists around the world received a jolt in recent days when they were informed that one of the most popular cloud collaboration services not only crashed, but also may not be able to restore data added over the last three weeks.

It’s unclear how many users are affected by the problems experienced at Dedoose, a company based in Manhattan Beach. But on Monday, the company sent an email to users indicating that it suffered a major meltdown a week ago and may not be able to recover recently added files.

“The timing of this event was such that our entire data storage container was corrupted -- including the master database and all local backups,” the company wrote in the email. “Within minutes of discovering the problem, we contacted Microsoft Azure support. Unfortunately, Microsoft was unable to recover these data ... from its servers.”


Not only did Dedoose suffer problems, but so did its backup systems:

“Since our initial communication about this issue, we have also learned that the backup files stored to an independent location were also corrupted. We are working with Gladinet services to have the non-corrupted data transferred to alternative storage locations and restore the integrity of these files,” the company said.

Dedoose said it had restored all data added up to March 2. It said it is hopeful that it can recover the data that was lost through mid-April. After that, though, the company said it was not optimistic at restoring data added in the last three weeks.

“Needless to say, we know that this event will significantly impact many users,” the company said in its email. “Again, we will do all we can to assist in rebuilding projects that have been lost, or help in other ways as we work to regain your trust in Dedoose services.”

Needless to say, social scientists who use the system were in shock over the weekend.

“The Dedoose data fail brings into horrible relief the fragility of cloud-based services and entrusting our data/intellectual labor there,” Sarah T. Roberts, an assistant professor in the Faculty of Information and Media Studies at Western University, said in a tweet.