During production of Toy Story 2 in 1998, Pixar accidentally deleted 90 percent of the film. Wait until you hear what happened and how they managed to recover it.
In early 1998 the production team was already about 10 months into the sequel of the hugely popular Toy Story. It was due for release in November the following year. One day, Toy Story 2 Associate Technical Director Oren Jacob was in an office with a few other associate technical directors when they were looking at a directory where the assets for Woody were held. When they refreshed they noticed the assets of Woody were decreasing. For example, one refresh Woody would loose a hat, then his boots, then his entire body. Once they noticed this they very quickly looked at the other characters and noticed the same problem.
What had happened was that someone had run the command “rm –rf”; rm is used to remove files from directories on a UNIX shared computer system. In this instance though, someone had accidentally used it on the master root of all the directories on the shared system. How could just one person wipe out all the files in the system. The way Toy Story 2 was being produced required everyone to have access to the master files. Getting everyone to apply for special permission would have been too time consuming. When they finally discovered the mistake, Jacob practically panicked and got someone to unplug the entire system. When they rebooted it, they discovered that 90 percent of the film had vanished. So how did they recover all of the lost work?
A few months earlier Supervising Technical Director Galyn Susman had given birth to a baby. Being a new mother she needed to be able to work at home, so Pixar had set up a computer in her home. This computer contained the complete film. Additionally, requiring up to date changes and alterations to the film meant that it was updated at regular intervals. When Pixar realized that Susman had a backup copy of the film they drove to her house and retrieved the computer.
When Pixar got the computer back the only question that remained was when the last update had been done. Once they turned it on they found that it was last updated only two weeks earlier. They managed to recover 70 percent of the lost files from this one computer, and they spent the rest of the week checking left over files from other computers in the office to get it back to nearly 100 percent.
Now comes the funny part. The film was completed at the end of 1998, but they were unhappy with the final product. After working for nearly two years, and nearly losing the entire film earlier that year, they decided to scrap nearly the entire film. It took them just under nine months to remake Toy Story 2 and have it ready for its planned release date in November 1999.