Oops! Emory University accidentally tells all of its Windows PC to format themselves

Emory University is slightly red-faced at the moment after accidentally deploying a Windows 7 image to all of its computers and servers that started off with instructions to format and repartition drives. The mistake was noticed, but by the time the deployment server was switched off, it had itself been formatted; what then followed was huge clean-up operation.

The fallout was quite dramatic as while the deployed image included a number of key applications such as Office, other such as Visio and Project required manual installation. IT technicians worked through the night to restore “mission critical” computers to help speed up the process of getting others systems back up and running in a somewhat automated fashion.

Although a degree of automation was possible, visits from technician were still needed in many cases. The process as helped by the use of the Microsoft Development Toolkit but, as pointed out by The Next Web, incidents such as this do serve to highlight the importance of having up to date, reliable backups.

But while the accident caused quite a lot of problems, it did also show just how useful group policies are — this made it possible to rollout a lot of system settings. All told, the clean-up took a couple of days from start to finish, although there is still some work to be done to get all system fully operational again.