How This Developer Deleted His Entire Company With One Line Of Bad Code

If you think you’re having a bad day at work, just be happy you aren’t Marco Marsala.

Marsala ran a small hosting company and had 1500 websites running on his servers. He was doing routine maintenance work a couple of days ago, when he typed in a seemingly innocuous line of code – “rm-rf”. 

It deleted all of his customers’ data. Permanently.


The five characters “rm-rf” can unleash deadly destruction in coding language. While “rm” tells the computer to remove, “r” deletes everything within a given directory and “f” stands for force, telling the computer to ignore the usual warnings that come when deleting files.

After having accidently deleted his company with a few keystrokes, Marsala took to the internet for help. He posted on Server Fault about his situation, and apart from telling him that he’d messed up big time, other internet commentators talked about how staggering his mistake had been.

“Well, you should have been thinking about how to protect your customers’ data before nuking them,” wrote one user. “I won’t even begin enumerating how many errors are simultaneously required in order to be able to completely erase all your servers and all your backups in a single strike. This is not bad luck: it’s astonishingly bad design reinforced by complete carelessness.”

And others him he’s in a lot of trouble. “You’re going out of business,” wrote another user. “You don’t need technical advice, you need to call your lawyer.”

While some people were more helpful, asking him to contact a data recovery company, at the moment it looks like Marsala’s business is gone. You live by code, you die by it.