You would think, after Leia stole the plans for the Death Star, the empire would have invested in some form of data recovery/back-up system. It seems inconvenient that they would store such vital plans in a single place. And similar with the Force Awakens

Poe steals the map recovered from the Empire's archives that lead to Luke Skywalker. Again, the information seems to be stored on a single flash-drive-esque device.

More-so with the Force Awakens scenario, but why would the evildoers not make a back-up or copies of this information, in the event that resistance/rebel scum would steal it?

  • 4
    one question per question
    – phantom42
    Commented Dec 21, 2015 at 13:35
  • 36
    there's no evidence that the empire/first order wasn't backing up their information. they didn't need need to recover the DS plans for their own use, they wanted to keep it out of the hands of the rebels. with the map in TFA, they never had the full map to begin with.
    – phantom42
    Commented Dec 21, 2015 at 13:37
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    They would have had to deal with imperial tech department; the corps of the first order with the strongest ties to the cruelty and malice of the sith Commented Dec 21, 2015 at 16:24
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    Nobody backs up their data until it's too late. Commented Dec 21, 2015 at 19:01
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    The Empre's problem wasn't that they didn't have the data. The problem was that the Rebellion did have the data. Making more copies of the data doesn't help to prevent that. Commented Dec 22, 2015 at 0:14

3 Answers 3


There is no evidence that the Empire and the First Order aren't backing up their information.

The Imperials were not after the stolen Death Star plans because they needed them for their own use. They were concerned with the Rebels utilizing the plans to find a weakness in the battle station.

From the ANH script:

Tagge: And what of the Rebellion? If the Rebels have obtained a complete technical readout of this station, it is possible, however unlikely, that they might find a weakness and exploit it.

The map to Luke Skywalker is obtained through unknown means.

From the novelization:

“Legend says this map is unobtainable,” Poe noted. “How’d you do it?” The older man just smiled, clearly not willing to give up all his secrets just yet.

General Hux isn't even sure that the map exists, implying that it was not stolen from the First Order originally, and that they've never possessed a copy of the portion that BB8 is carrying.

Ren interrupted the general’s impassioned defense. “Keeping the map out of the hands of the Resistance shouldn’t be a problem, then. Yes?”

“Again, this map. Which for all I know may or may not even exist.”

Ren’s voice darkened to a degree that caused Phasma to take a step backward. “I do not think I care for your implication, General. You would be wise to keep such thoughts to yourself. You would be wise not to think them.”

(note that the conversation above is between Ren, Phasma and General Hux)

  • I guess I will have to see it again to pick up on the details. So the First Order never had the piece of the map? And did it explain why the old man in the beginning had it or how he obtained it? Commented Dec 21, 2015 at 13:51
  • No, Poe directly asks Lor San Tekka how he got the map, and Tekka just deflects the question.
    – phantom42
    Commented Dec 21, 2015 at 13:54
  • The site I read that says the First Order obtained it from the Empire's archives must be misinformation then. Thanks for your answer Commented Dec 21, 2015 at 14:00
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    The First Order likely obtained the rest of the map (the portion that R2 finds at the end) from the Imperial Archives.
    – phantom42
    Commented Dec 21, 2015 at 14:04
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    I'm fairly sure it was specifically stated in the film that, as @phantom42 says, the First Order obtained the rest of the map, excluding the piece everyone's hunting for, from Imperial files.
    – recognizer
    Commented Dec 21, 2015 at 19:43

Leaving aside Phantom42's great answer, we also know from out-of-universe that this is NOT an unheard-of procedure.

Truly top secret documents often only exist as 1-5 hard copies, each copy numbered, and tracked as to who took it. AND not on electronic network.

Wikileaks clearly demonstrated why doing anything else is... problematic.


It was a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.

Git, Subversion, Mercurial, et al. did not yet exist. Sure they had computers & what-not, but backing up data was a much rarer occurrence than we have nowadays.

  • For civilizations so long ago, they sure had some advanced technology like hyperspace travel.
    – phantom42
    Commented Dec 21, 2015 at 21:30
  • @phantom42, sure - which makes it surprising that nobody invented their own DVCS. But the Jedi temple didn't even have basic IDS - it was simple for a Jedi to go in and delete an entire star system from the computers. Commented Dec 21, 2015 at 21:34
  • This seems more of a joke than a serious answer. But if it is serious, it seems strongly implied that the planet was somehow deleted from the archived data in the Jedi Archives. But instead of making a movie that lasts for two weeks about how the Jedi struggle with their database backups, it's glossed over in about 10-15 minutes. A reasonable decision by the film makers, no?
    – Ellesedil
    Commented Dec 21, 2015 at 23:46
  • @Ellesedil why not both? While there are plenty of things you can point to in Star Wars as high tech/advanced, there are still a lot of evidence (Ewoks, for one) of cultures that are not nearly as advanced. I think, given the evidence, it's perfectly reasonable to assume that while they were highly advanced in space travel, that doesn't require they have good data retention policies. As another example - Obi Wan and Yoda had to physically be in the temple to view the archives - no off-site data access. Commented Dec 22, 2015 at 5:54
  • Look at the gungans - I don't know what tech creates their weaponry or habitats, but we would consider them low tech. Who knows if Tusken raiders even bathe or write? But they have blasters. I think it's a mistake to assume that just because backups are a large part of our history that they should be a part of the Empire, just because they have certain advancements. Maybe most of their storage is so stable that they rarely suffer the data loss that we do. So only in rare instances is it even considered Commented Dec 22, 2015 at 6:00

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