One of the first rules of using computers to manage your data is to always have current backups. Unfortunately, that is one of the most frequently overlooked tasks that managers of data perform.
On Monday, July 28, the News office found out just how reliant they are on computers when the out-of-town mailing list database crashed. Actually, according to our software vendor, it did not crash, it completely disappeared from the hard drive.
Labels had already been run for the July 30 paper, so we were able to secure a photocopy of those labels to assist in rebuilding the mailing list. We were then able to pull an old backup copy and integrate the information from the newest labels to restore all of our subscribers. We finished all of this on Friday, August 1st.
I have run some preliminary reports, and we feel confident that we have all of our subscribers restored. However, the expiration dates may be incorrect on some of the accounts. When there was uncertainty, we decided to err in favor of our readers, and simply bumped the due date forward. We were also able to look at several months of subscriber renewals to get much of the information corrected.
That still leaves one very important data field that we were NOT able to restore - alternate billing contact. Many folks in Mason give gift subscriptions to their children, grandchildren or friends. When the renewal for the paper comes due, the notice is mailed to the generous person listed in the alternate address field, which we were unable to restore.
So! If you are one of the folks who give gift subscriptions for existing recipients of the News, you will need to contact us and let us know all the accounts you should be listed on as billing contact. Provide your name, address, and the names of the subscribers for whom you pay, and we will finish restoring the database.
Till all of these details are provided, we will continue mailing out normal renewal notices. If you think you might have already paid, just let us know. If you think someone else is supposed to be paying for your paper, let us know that as well. In a short while, we should have everything back to normal.
And now, we even have backups of our backups, so this should not happen again.
Thanks for your help!