• United States

User Learns to Backup

Jun 30, 20043 mins
Data Center

Here’s a note from a user, with the names changed just enough to keep him from getting in trouble with his company.

Dear James E. Gaskin

My experience with backing up data in a timely manner may be of use as a learning tool for others. I learned the easy way about backing up data.

While working at XYZ Aerospace (editied) in the mid ’80’s, I was responcible for entering the schematics and running simulation for our project. Having broken my teeth in on the early PC’s (Altair 8800), I was used to backing up often. I backed up at least once a day, and did a total backup to the corporate mainframe once a week. I also did a main-frame tape backup of the entire project every six months.

One day, at the end of the day, a thunderstorm came through. It being a Friday, I did a total backup onto floppy disk instead of just the work I had entered. It would take a few minutes, which could become a task after a while. When the backup was done, I pulled the floppy out of the drive.

At the exact moment that the floppy left the drive, lightning hit the power mains to the building. Over half of the computers in the building were fried. Nearly all suffered some damage, and the most common damage was to the hard drives.

The project managers’ all went into a panic. The biggest concern being lost data. My project manager came up in a panic, fearing the worst. When he discovered only simulation and netlist data were lost – recoverable in a few minutes, he was ecstatic. Other projects lost at least a day’s work. Most lost at least 2 or 3 day’s work, an a quarter of the a week’s work. One poor engineer lost three month’s of work, and took over two weeks to reconstruct his project.

It was after that, that I began backing up to the main frame and not just floppies. I also created multiple copies of backups, two for a rotating daily backup, another, monthly, in my boss’s office, and a weekly copy in my file cabinet. Some of the project managers put in place a similar procedure, the corporation lacking a backup policy at the time.

I found that a good IT department is more than willing to help their client users perform periodic backups. The greatest failing that they have is that they do not advertise that they are available for this assistance, or just how valuable, in time and dollars, a backup copy of important work can be. Few people, including too many IT people, fail to realize that backing up data is as important as a firewall on the network in protecting it.


Paul S

Thanks for sharing your history, Paul. Anyone else have a story they’d like to share with the group?