Software error causes 34m research files to be lost at Kyoto UniversityLeigh Mc Gowranon January 5, 2022 at 12:34 Silicon RepublicSilicon Republic

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A software update malfunctioned in Kyoto University’s supercomputer, leading to the loss of around 77TB of research files.

The incident took place on December 16 2021, when the university began to investigate an issue caused by a Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) software update.

Kyoto University said 34 million files from 14 research groups had been deleted and four groups of data likely be lost forever, unable to be recovered from backups.

The university said it would immediately contact those affected and has not confirmed which four groups have permanently lost their research files.

HPE took full responsibility and said the update for Kyoto University’s supercomputer system was originally designed to “improve visibility and readability,” by deleting log files older than 10 days, the company said in a statement translated on Google Translate.

The company admitted there was a “lack of consideration” in the release procedure of the new script and it was not aware of any potential side effects when it was applied.

This lead to a script being overwritten while it was still running, “resulting in undefined variables”. This caused the original log files in the supercomputer to be deleted “instead of deleting the [log] file saved in the directory,” HPE said.

“We believe this file loss is 100pc our responsibility,” the company added, and linked to a response email to help those affected with file recovery and loss reduction techniques.

HPE said that measures will be taken to ensure this issue does not occur in the future, including verification of updates before their application and re-educating engineers in charge of human error and risk prevention.

Kyoto University is the second oldest university in Japan, founded in 1897. It is one of Japan’s leading research-oriented institutions and has produced multiple Nobel Prize winners.

Microsoft faced a software issue of its own at the start of the year, when its Exchange servers stopped working properly as the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Eve. The servers could not accomodate the year 2022, leading to some calling it the Y2K22 bug.

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