I have been listening all week to TV pundits lamenting that Lois Lerner’s hard drive has been destroyed, and therefore her e-mails are lost. This is simply not the case. I never cease to be amazed at the lack of understanding of how the e-mail system works.
When you write an e-mail, it goes to your server to be sent to the person you e-mailed. Your server keeps a copy of that e-mail, and of all your e-mails – sent and received. When you create all the folders in your e-mail program that you use to save e-mails in…these are also stored on your server. I use MSN, so my server is an MSN server. My wife uses Gmail, so her server is a Google server. These servers are large machines, and they most often run the Unix operating system.
I have been using and working with Unix basically since its creation at Bell Labs in the ’60s. Unix has several features for doing regular backups – both incremental ones and full backups. On the Unix machine we used in one of my jobs, we created – automatically – daily incremental backups and once a week did a full backup. Back then, we did them to tape, and these tapes were then archived for future use if needed.
Lois Lerner’s e-mails exist on those backup tapes from her server. We kept our tapes for years because the government required us to do so!
Recently, my wife and I changed our e-mail program that runs on our PCs, from Windows Live to Thunderbird. And when we loaded Thunderbird, all of our e-mails and all of our folders we had been using for years to save e-mails in were automatically loaded into the new Thunderbird program. The program got them from the server! They were all there and fully restored.
So Lois Lerner’s hard drive is not the only source for her e-mails. They exist on her server in the archived backups.
When you read your e-mails from your PC, tablet, or smartphone, they are all accessing the e-mails that reside on the server. The only reason you can access them from different devices is because they exist on the server.
We went through this with Al Gore years ago, when he destroyed his PC and supposedly lost his e-mails. It was bogus then, and it’s bogus now.
As I’m typing this, I am listening to the brilliant minds on TV discussing recovering data from crashed hard drives. It makes me crazy.