Submitted by javelin on Sat, 2007-11-03 13:36

The God who didn't make backups: A parable (by Rhyanna)
Once upon a time, there was a God of a MUSH. It was a pleasant MUSH, of a medium size. It had just recently passed 5000 objects, and he was very proud. This God, though, was not taking backups of his database.

One day, then, calamity struck in the form of a socket programming project when required many people to use the MUSH's host and use many processes apiece. The MUSH crashed, and because there were no available processes, it truncated both the maildb and the indb to length 0.

That's the way it was told to me, but it was never very clear. But for ther purposes of the parable, it doesn't matter. Perhaps the disk head swung too close and plowed up slivers of aluminum from the spinning platter. Perhaps he ran afoul of a subtle and malignant bug with compression. The point is that he had not been making backups, and a stray accident had destroyed every copy of the database.

This would have spelled the death of many MUSHes. Many MUSHes that experience such a catastrophe never return at all. This one decided to try to rebuild, but even so, two of the wizards and far more of the players never returned, and the structure of the physical building and the roleplaying environment of the MUSH were never the same as they had been before.

The moral is left as an exercise for the reader.

A useful perl script: dated db-backups (Westley)

# external db file management for MU*
# Designed to be called by cron and make
# a backup of the db tagged with the date.
# Any given backup will be held for 7 days
# before being deleted by this program.
# usage: dbchk [-d(data directory)] [-s(save directory)] [-f(filename)]
# By Michael Baker (Inigo,,
# Modified by Chris Hardy (Westley), modified slightly by Alan Schwartz

# Set usage for use in error messages.
$usage = "dbchk [-d(data directory)] [-s(save directory)] [-f(filename)]\n";

# require/include the program
# to handle switch type arguments.
require '';

# Set default variables for db location
$directory = "~/game/data";
$savedir = "~/game/save";
$filename = "minimal.db.Z";

# Call Getopts (included earlier) to handle -d and -f switches
# the ':' following indicates that data follows the switch.
# Then process the data via if's.
&Getopts('d:f:s:') || die "$usage";

if ($opt_d) { $directory = $opt_d; }
if ($opt_f) { $filename = $opt_f; }
if ($opt_s) { $savedir = $opt_s; }

# Get the current time to stamp the backup with.
($sec, $min, $hour, $mday, $mon, $year, $wday, $yday, $isdst) = localtime(time());
$filestamp = join("",$mon,$mday,$year);

# Make the backup of the db
system("cp $directory/$filename $savedir/$filename.$filestamp");

# This section removes the saves over 7 days old.
opendir(DATED,$savedir) || die "Unable to remove old backups.\n";
@files = readdir(DATED);
@files = grep(/$filename\./,@files);

while (shift(@files)) {
if (-M > 7) {
unlink($_) || warn "Unable to remove $_!\n";
exit 0;