How long do you hang on to decommissioned hard drives and storage devices? Do you at least wait to make sure your new drives or backup applications are functioning properly?

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How long do you hang on to decommissioned hard drives and storage devices? Do you at least wait to make sure your new drives or backup applications are functioning properly?

If you answered yes to that last question, there might be a job at the White House for you.The latest wrinkle in the missing White House e-mail saga is that the drives are gone. Tossed out. Destroyed, even.

"When workstations are at the end of their life cycle and retired... the hard drives are generally sent off-site to another government entity for physical destruction," the White House told a federal judge last week.

Normally, a reasonably sensible storage professional makes sure all necessary data was properly copied. And, normally, new applications -- whether it's an e-mail server or the backup system for it -- are tested and re-tested before anything gets destroyed. But this situation isn't normal, and the story behind the story keeps changing, or getting added to, like one of those serial chain letters that clutter your in-box.

Earlier on, I was willing to give the White House and CIO Theresa Payton the benefit of the doubt about this mess. My suspension of disbelief about this is officially suspended. The way they've disclosed details about the chronology and methods behind their actions now sounds improvised -- very lately improvised.

I have no idea if the judge in the case, John Facciola, is technically astute where the ins and outs of IT are concerned. But I'm betting he's started to sense that something's a bit off. This has now gotten to the point where it officially insults the intelligence. We'll see just how insulted the judge is in the next chapter -- his response won't be any kind of throwaway.

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About the Author(s)

Terry Sweeney, Contributing Editor

Terry Sweeney is a Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered technology, networking, and security for more than 20 years. He was part of the team that started Dark Reading and has been a contributor to The Washington Post, Crain's New York Business, Red Herring, Network World, InformationWeek and Mobile Sports Report.

In addition to information security, Sweeney has written extensively about cloud computing, wireless technologies, storage networking, and analytics. After watching successive waves of technological advancement, he still prefers to chronicle the actual application of these breakthroughs by businesses and public sector organizations.


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