TECH: BACKUP, Backup, backup. Fail at your own peril!

Back Up Your Computer to Save Time and Money

Saturday, 25th October 2008 (by J.D.)

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Here’s a public service message: Back up your computer regularly. This has more to do with your pocketbook than you might think.

Not only was I sick this week, but the hard drive on my laptop crashed. It’s gone. The Apple Geniuses (that’s what they call themselves!) cannot salvage it. I was able to pull the single most important document (the GRS spreadsheet) and a few posts-in-progress, but I lost a hell of a lot, including:

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It never ceases to amaze me how pros get caught short.

And, as I have learned the hard way, back in my FBC days, you have to test the restoration.

My story was entertaining. Since it was a test! If it’d had been “for real”, the outcome might have been different. I was challenged to justify at the highest levels why the organization had to run a very expensive Thanksgiving Day test of our recovery capability. IT was a huge multimillion dollar effort. I was insistent. (That was in my younger days when I was full of “principle”.) We were under regulatory scrutiny and my plan was pulling them out of the mess that they were in. (Those were the days when folks listened to my advice as opposed to seeing my gray hair!) I refused to sign off and certify to the regulatory authority that we were in compliance with the agreement to “be recoverable”. The entire chain of command was saying it was a lock sure process. But, I insisted on a test. (In injineering skool, we waz taught about Mister Murphy and his law!) My Boss and his Boss gave me weak support, but under pressure had to admit that based on their reviews they saw no reason why a test was absolutely necessary. So, I was called up on the carpet. (It was a very lovely RED carpet.) To explain. (Get my arm twisted.) It was a subcommittee of the BoD. (I learned later that it was the Audit subcommittee.) My defense was simple: “The regulators will hold me and the Board of Directors personally liable if we cause a market meltdown by being unable to recover. Since I’m too young to be unemployed, I need a test to sign off. I’d suggest that you have more to lose financially that I do, so you might want a test too.” That simple logic carried the day.

The Head of the Largest Business unit, (a trading desk), was to go run the test. I was there as an observer. (Soon to be unemployed, if the grazillion dollars was wasted.) The Head Poobaah was one of the one’s who confidently predicted success and was upset that “his bonus was going to be reduced because of the expense of this test”. Rules of engagement were that WTC (where the data center was) is gone. A core cadre of people are in Sunguard Philly with all the back up stuff stored there and were to recover the business from that point. (It really was the simplest of the seven disaster scenarios.)

(Can you see where this is going?)

Bottom line: Test failed. AND, among the reasons for the failure, in addition to the usual media and process failures, was that the Poobaah’s trading desk had essential data store on their PCs on the trading desks that was NEVER baked up.

That incident taught me to have lots of “belts and suspenders”.

From time to time the Universe has reminded me of that lesson. Hopefully, you can learn it without the painful experience.

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One Response to TECH: BACKUP, Backup, backup. Fail at your own peril!

  1. From a small business perspective we have used a product called Carbonite. It’s $49 per year and it continually backs up your PC to an offsite location. The good news is that you never have to worry about it. The bad news is that when I had to re-install Vista to clear up some problems I was having (don’t get me started), although I was able to fully recover my data, it took about four days to fully restore 32Gb over a WAN connection. But, I did get it all back.

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