Victoria University of Wellington accidentally nukes files on all desktop PCs

Victoria University of Wellington is in New Zealand. We offer no further defense of this image.

Enlarge / Victoria University of Wellington is in New Zealand. We offer no further defense of this image. (credit: Aurich Lawson | Getty Images)

Last Friday, IT staff at the Victoria University of Wellington started a maintenance procedure aimed at reclaiming space on the university network—in theory, by removing the profiles of students who no longer attend the university. The real impact, unfortunately, was much larger—affecting students, faculty, and staff across the university.

The New Zealand university’s student newspaper reported the issue pretty thoroughly this Wednesday, although from a non-IT perspective. It sounds like an over-zealous Active Directory policy went out of bounds—the university’s Digital Solutions department (what most places would refer to as Information Technology, or IT) declared that files stored on the university network drives, or on Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud storage, were “fully protected.”

A grad student reported that not “only files on the desktop were gone” but “my whole computer had been reset, too,” which would be consistent with an AD operation removing her user profile from the machine entirely—in such a case, a user would be able to log in to the PC, but into a completely “clean” profile that looked factory new.

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