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It's not possible to lose all of Lerner's emails. Here's why.

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“Business Continuity”

Those two words speak volumes to anyone who has ever run an IT department. Furthermore, the larger the business, the more those words mean. Then consider that the U.S. Government is the largest “business” in the world, with a $3.6 trillion budget for 2014.

For many years I ran large IT departments and in every case, there was one issue that was far more important than the daily maintenance of systems. That was “Business Continuity.”

We backed up everything!

The primary questions that senior officers of all large corporations ask of their IT management is, “How would our business continue to function if there were a major natural disaster, such as a tornado, hurricane, flood, or earthquake, that caused massive damage to the building and many computers? What if the building burned down and destroyed the on-site backups? How then, would we recover?” These are the questions that always lead to a structured backup plan.

At each company where I worked, we had a slightly different backup strategy, depending upon the Business Continuity needs of that company. But in every case, we kept a variety of on-site and off-site backups. As soon as the technology became available, we began backing up important files on the disk drives of individual computers. Among the most important of those files was the Outlook Database that contains all emails sent, received, saved or placed in the trash folder and not yet permanently deleted, along with the contacts and calendar of that user. This kind of backup scenario is standard procedure among large companies and remember that the U.S. government is even larger than the largest corporation and Business Continuity is even more important to them.

Today, these backups are generally kept in a variety of formats. Some are simply moved to another disk array on another server, to make accessing accidentally deleted recent files easy. But other backups are saved to removable media (such as DVD) that can be easily stored off-site, to protect against the possibility of fire or other disaster in the building. However, since that removable media is meant for long-term storage, that media will never be re-used. So in order to save money, companies use non-rewritable WORM (Write Once Read Many) media. In other words, instead of using DVD-RW, they would use DVD-R.

The government might also use an online backup system. But being the government, they would most likely keep that service in-house, but at a different location. Even so, such systems make it next to impossible to delete just one file out of an entire backup. To do so would take a serious hacker and even he would need to be elite in his field.

So let’s look at what this all means, as regards Lerner’s emails. There are two possible scenarios, so I’ll cover both.

First Scenario – Lerner’s emails were kept on her PC:

  1. Since Lerner’s computer is a Windows-based PC, all of her emails would be necessarily kept in one file (database).
  2. If Lerner really did lose all of her emails, then she would have lost all of her contacts and calendar records, as well. We have not heard that. But someone should be asking that question. With Microsoft Office, it’s not possible to lose just emails without also losing contacts and calendars. They are all in the same database file
  3. Since backups are certainly WORM or specialized online storage, you can’t delete just one file from the backup media. Any attempt to delete just one file on a WORM disk would corrupt the entire disk, so you would lose all files on that media. Online storage software is designed specifically to insure that the backups remain untainted.
  4. There are certainly multiple copies of that file, both on-site and off-site.
  5. Anyone who says that Lerner’s emails are lost and cannot be recovered is either lying or repeating someone else’s lie.

Second Scenario – Lerner’s emails were kept on a mail server:

  1. If the files are kept on an email server then the emails are certainly the primary things that are backed up from that server.
  2. Emails for all users would be backed up at the same time, to the same media, which would certainly be WORM or specialized online storage. Any attempt to delete just one file on a WORM disk would corrupt the entire disk, so you would lose all files on that media. Online storage software is designed specifically to insure that the backups remain untainted.
  3. There are certainly multiple copies of the backups from the mail server, both on-site and off-site.
  4. Anyone who says that Lerner’s emails are lost and cannot be recovered is either lying or repeating someone else’s lie.

Even if we assume that the IRS’s IT director is a typical government worker, who couldn’t hold a job in the real world, we must conclude that if he has been capable of getting far enough to be considered for such a role, even as a government employee, he has to have at least basic knowledge of backup strategies.

There is no doubt but that those backups exist somewhere – more likely, several somewheres. Furthermore, it’s not possible to delete just Lerner’s emails on WORM media, without destroying the whole disk and all of the other Business Continuity files on it and online backup software is designed to prevent deletion of files in the backup till the files are automatically deleted due to age.

In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the IT director who made the original email files “disappear” didn’t keep a copy for his own protection, in case he is ever called to task for it. Although such backups are almost always against company policy, it’s far from uncommon for IT geeks, who know that their boss is having them do something wrong or even illegal, to make a covert backup for their own protection. More importantly, since one of those various backups will turn up sooner or later, turning those covert backups over to authorities, before other backups are found by law enforcement, might be the only thing that will keep the IT director from becoming a scape-goat and going to jail, for the crimes of Obama and Lerner.

It’s not a matter of “if,” but “when” one of those sets of backups is found. It’s only going to be a matter of time.

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