What Rogue One Teaches About Data Backup

By | February 9th, 2017

I finally got a chance to see Rogue One: A Star Wars Story recently (I know, I’m late to the game, but I was off my feet for a few weeks around the holidays). It got me thinking about data backups and data security. Whether you’re in a small business, an enterprise, the Imperial Forces, or just backing up a home computer, the same rules apply.

Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t seen Rogue One and don’t want any plot details leaked, skip this blog post if you want to stay in the dark.

Test Your Security

The Imperial databank on Scarif is an impressive facility with only one way on and off the planet. That Shield Gate is one heck of a firewall. But Jyn Urso and Cassian Andor prove that Imperial security is fallible. No matter how good you think your data defense is, it can probably be better.

Conduct regular reviews of your backup and data security strategies to make sure you’re not leaving any glaring holes open that someone can take advantage of. Regularly change passwords. Use encryption. Here’s more on how we use encryption.

Backup Redundantly

Scarif is the only place in the Galaxy the Empire is keeping a copy of the plans. If you only have one backup, it’s better than nothing – but not by much. Especially when Governor Tarkin decides to test his new toy on your planet. Better to backup in at least two places.

We recommend a two-step approach. In addition to the live data on your computer, you should keep a local backup copy on site in case you need to do a quick restore. Another copy in the cloud (not Cloud City) will make sure that no matter what happens, you have a copy you can recover from (that’s what we’re here for).

If you don’t already have a backup strategy in place, make sure to check out our Computer Backup Guide for lots of information about how to get started.

Check Your Backups

One other thing we learn from the Death Star plans – the Empire didn’t manage version control very well. Take a close look at the Death Star schematic that Jyn and Cassian absconded with. Notice anything…off?

Yeah, that’s right. The focus lens for the superlaser is equatorial. Now, everyone knows that the Death Star’s superlaser is actually on the northern hemisphere. Which goes to show you that Jyn and Cassian made off with a previous backup, not the current data.

It’s important to test your backups periodically to make sure that the files that are important to you are safe and sound. Don’t just set a backup system and forget it – verify periodically that the data you actually need is being backed up. Also verify that all the data you need is accounted for.

Restoring your data shouldn’t be as hard as massing a rebel assault on Scarif. There’s another practical reason to test your backup and restore process periodically — so you’ll be familiar with the workflow when it matters. Catastrophes that require data recovery are fraught with enough peril. Don’t make it worse by learning how to use software on the fly, otherwise you might end up like an X-Wing hitting the Shield Gate.

You’re One With The Force And The Force Is With You

Data security and backup doesn’t need to be a battle. Develop a strategy that works for you, make sure your data is safe and sound, and check it once in awhile to make sure it’s up to date and complete. That way, just like the Force, your data will be with you, always.

Peter Cohen
Peter will never give you up, never let you down, never run around or desert you. He also manages the Backblaze blog.

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Category:  Backing Up
  • Nexiilabs offers a stringent, holistic and comprehensive data storage consulting, end-to-end backup to the cloud services. We at Nexii have a structured approach to overcome the challenges faced by the clients. We have in place a team of experts to assist the clients to research on the different backup to the cloud vendors and evaluate them to provide the best business-appropriate backup to the cloud solutions.

  • Ben Jolly

    on the note of backups and ensuring you reviewing them … did anyone see the gitlab outage couple weeks ago?

    My favourite summary of the event page.
    “out of 5 backup/replication techniques deployed none are working reliably or set up in the first place”


    • You should always test your backups…

      • DocNo42

        A new backup vendor (at the time; I’m still fond of them) made the point that ‘backup” is one of the most misnamed things in all of IT. Nobody really cares about backups, what they care about is the restore :) So the first thing I look at in any solution is how easy is it for me to get my bits out when I really need them. The liberal hard drive restore policies of Backblaze are significant reasons I am a Backblaze customer!

  • cjacja

    Lets resolve the version control problem by saying the beam dish did not move. It only LOOKS equatorial because our view point is on the dish’s central axis. In other words we are above the northern hemisphere looking down the beam axis.

    • Hm. Even if I could go with that, the problem is the placement of the equatorial trench in the CG.

      Anyway, as lore enthusiasts (like Brian, below) know, the real answer is the movie makers changed the Death Star design after the CG was already done, so it’s a mistake.

    • Redundancy Disorder

      As noted above:

      There was a production issue. In the games and books they resolved this by saying the drawing reflected primary ION drive. But they even contradicted themselves by saying the equatorial trench is where multiple ION drive ports where housed. As to the trench location the animation zooms in to the fighter entry point and pivots to depict diving into the trench and head toward the pole.

      As for the data storage on scarif being the “ONLY” location it is not specified. They could have another copy at another facility clear across the galaxy. But the message only said there was a copy on scarif. IF I were the empire I would have multiple hardened facilities for data storage. But then again the empire doesn’t seem to like handrails on any dangerous walkway so…

  • Douglas Weiner

    Sadly when I was watching the movie, I was distracted by the whole backup dilemma as well. But other computer plot holes were killing me.

    1) The Empire uses tape back up? Regardless if that was tape or some other form of storage it was “offline” and required a retrieval system. Really? When you have crystals that are the heart of dead stars and can power the most destructive weapon on the death star, they couldn’t spare a shard to have all that data “on-line” Is it a cooling issue? Put the facility on Hoth instead of some tropical warm planet. You have hyperspace abilities for goodness sakes, put the facilities wherever you like.

    2) With B&W death star schematics like the one in the movie/blog, how much data could they really be storing? Even if this image were 800K and you had 100,000,000 (hundred million) diagrams, thats 74,506 TB or .073 PTB. I think the Empire must have been storing a lot of drone porn.

    3) The financials of Star Wars also drives me crazy. The Empire keeps losing enormous amounts of resources (Rogue one – they blow up their own facility) or the rebels (2 death stars, a death star planet, and countless battle cruisers). How does Empire HR recruit people? Who keeps applying for these jobs? How long does it take to hollow out a planet anyway?

    • gavingreenwalt

      Online is a security hole. The easier it is for someone to quickly call up data, the easier it is for a droid to abscond through an unpatched security hole. Think the new Battlestar Galactica, networked computers are dangerous to a AI. Notice how the data interfaces require a physical manipulation to maintain a link. That places a physical limit on the access rate. Also the droid was only capable of lighting up the data physically through an index of data. Someone had to physically manipulate an arm to retrieve the data. That air gaps your data even further.

      Star Wars is a universe where you can build a deathstar but it’s also a universe with highly capable AIs that could infiltrate even the most secure network. When you have an army of storm troopers, it’s worth the inconvenience for your own employees to prevent your enemies from accessing your data except with an equally large contingent of troops on the ground.

  • Brian

    If you want to get pedantic :P, the guy (yes, one guy, Larry Cuba) who did the CG Death Star on the viewscreens, he was told the beam dish would be equatorial, not up on the northern hemisphere. Then sometime later while the physical scale shooting models were made, the decision to move the dish to the northern hemisphere was made. But the CG would hav taken too long to remake that it was decided that the CG would be used as-is.


    • Yes, yes, but when have facts ever gotten in the way of making an important point about data integrity? ;)