Tao Of Backup Wailing Wall Story

Maybe I jinxed it?

The first job I worked at where I was actually working with computers (as opposed to scanning things at a check-out register) did daily backups during lunch; the secretary took them home with her to have an off-site backup. This was done on a old crude multi-tasking version of DOS that used serial terminals, and everyone had to log out while the backup proceeded. The backups were taken of the customer and order tracking data. It became one of my duties to fire off the backups and take the tape when finished.

One day I said to my boss "I know we have a backup of the business data, but do we have a copy of the entire operating system?" No, we didn't. That afternoon I used a spare tape to take a copy of the entire machine - this was in an age when tapes stored ten megabytes and the disk was twenty megabytes in size, so I couldn't just do a copy of the entire thing.

TWO days later, the disk basically died. Fortunately the rest of the computer was OK (it was a kludge if ever I saw one and I would have hated to try and rebuild it, because almost certainly you couldn't've got the parts). So I went down to the local store and bought a new 50MB drive, and after a brief struggle with the software and some manual reading I restored everything. The staff just used paper records - something they were used to when various bits of computer machinery were on the fritz - and typed it all in afterward.

I had to keep on repeating that I hadn't actually caused the disk to fail :-) It was such a huge coincidence...

This was a year or so after a house fire had taken all my data, including two weeks worth of solid programming on a two-year project and several short stories and novels. So I knew the value of good backups.

     Paul Wayper
    Canberra, Australia, Fri 04-Feb-2005 2:18am

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