I Have Screwed Up Some Computers Before, But Nothing Like This

Most people have seen the story circulating about the computer tech who screwed up and not only destroyed a hard drive full of information, but also destroyed the back up as well.

I am sure that there are those who will point to these errors (I say these because the tech made several mistakes) and use that for justification for not storing information digitally. Based upon the news reports I have seen, however, that is not the lesson to be learned here. Instead, the lesson to be learned is that part of a reasonable backup strategy is making sure that your backups work.

It appears that the owner of the records had, at first glance, a good backup strategy. The original electronic records were on a hard drive. A copy of those records existed on a second hard drive. And, a copy of the records existed on a tape backup of the original drive.

This plan is good in that it contains certain redundancies. Not only is there a hard drive backup, but there is also a tape backup.  It is not clear from the story whether any of backup information was stored off site, however that is an integral part of a good backup plan as well.

If they had such a good backup plan, how did this happen? Based on the reports, I see two reasons. First the technician accidentally erased the hard drive backup. I can envision a situation where a person accidentally erases original information. How, however, does the technician who just screwed up and reformatted a hard drive with critical information turn around and delete the same information from the backup?

The final problem of course is that no one regularly checked the tape backups to ensure that they were working properly. A backup solution is not a solution if you cannot restore your original files from the backup. You should regularly test your backups to ensure that they are working properly and that you can restore from them. This is especially true with tape backups because tape is an unstable medium. It degrades over time. Because of this, you should have any tape backups on a regular replacement schedule. Most manufacturers recommend replacing your tapes at least once a year.

One thought on “I Have Screwed Up Some Computers Before, But Nothing Like This

  1. Obviously, you haven’t been paying attention to my stories. My last company, had network backups that were failing for months before they realized they couldn’t be used to restore data. We discovered that when they were working on my laptop. My instructions were “I have a partioned drive. We need to make sure both the C & D drives are backed up and can be restored before you reformat the drives.” So they backed up my drives to the network. Then refomratted my laptop drives. Returned my laptop to me telling me that my data was sitting ont he network. Went to retive the data fromt eh network, and discovered that it was missing. They went to get it off the tape back ups of the network drives and discovered that the tape back ups were corrpted.

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