Back up, back up, back up!

by Meryl K Evans | Category: Meryl's Notes Blog, Tech 20 comments

This is not your typical lost data story. I was a good girl and I kept my files on the network drive just like the company recommended. The only thing I put on my hard drive was junk files – things that wouldn’t bother me if the hard drive crashed. But not on the network drive. The drives are backed up and even my PC has a local back up program. Can you see where this is going?

On Wednesday, August 25, I accessed my work from the network drive as always. I kept copies of my time report and my daily activities there. Since I was going to be out on August 26 for surgery, I saved everything and did the usual end of day sign out routine.

I returned to work on Wednesday, September 1 and accessed the drive through my ‘Favorites’ and got an error message. Thought nothing of it — figured the network was down or something. Eventually, I went into File Explorer and accessed my private network drive from there. Ah ha! They moved me to a new server. Fine, fine. Whatever.

Not fine! On that drive were two folders: /windows and /log. That’s it. Nothing else. I opened a ticket. Turned out the data wasn’t migrated from the old to the new server. Thankfully, they kept archived data for 30 days, so the ticket should take care of that.

Thursday, I went home early. My surgery wore me out after half a day. Friday, September 3, I had to go to the ER and ended up not returning to work until October 5. I checked the drive and nothing changed. I checked the ticket and it was closed! According to the ticket, the problem was resolved. My foot! I immediately contacted support and explained the ticket wasn’t resolved.

He asked for permission to remote control my PC. By all means. I watched him do all the things I had attempted. He passed the ticket to a specific group. I kept checking on the ticket and emailing the contact. I heard stuff like it’s past 30 days so it may not be archived. Well, hey, I reported the problem within five days of the last time it worked! Why wasn’t it properly resolved while I was out?

If you work for support or have worked for them – don’t get me wrong, I am married to a guy who has worked in it and managed it. I’ve lost serious data here.

Lesson learned? I should’ve backed up the data onto my hard drive. If I had, then all would be cool. What are the chances of losing the network data AND hard drive data? Wait, don’t answer that.

Back up early and back up often. Oh, and vote, too!

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20 comments

  • Posted by Lockergnome's Windows Fanatics on October 20th, 2004, 9:40 PM

    Back up!

    This is not your typical lost data story. I was a good girl and I kept my files on the network drive just like the company recommended. The only thing I put on my hard drive was junk files -…

  • Posted by Dale Poole on October 21st, 2004, 7:11 AM

    No Meryl, you shouldn’t have backed up your data to your hard drive, you should have done a proper backup.

    That’s a backup to removeable media which can then be stored OFF of any computer, anywhere! For extreme data (the highest sensitivity, the most difficult to reconstruct) that backup should then be stored in a different building, or at least a different office, and under lock and key.

  • Posted by Herman Seymus on October 21st, 2004, 7:22 AM

    I agree with Dale Poole.
    I always backup on two different removalble media “off” my PC.
    CD-RW for daily backups and CD-R (each two different reliable brands) for weekly backups.
    These have saved me form a lot of grief already on several occasions, for example when data went corrupt or… when my data hard disk crashed!!
    One more reason not backup on hard disks.

  • Posted by Meryl on October 21st, 2004, 8:48 AM

    I can’t do that at work. We don’t have the funds for offline back up and my PC doesn’t have a RW CD. However, I do have one at home and that’s what I do. Thanks for sharing it.

    I’d like to also back up my personal computer data to a network drive — but it’s not cheap enough YET.

  • Posted by Sam Foster on October 21st, 2004, 8:55 AM

    I would have suggested the hard drive backup as well. I usually have FILES (Access) that range 1.5 to 2.0 GIG, and some of the SQL “files” that range from 10 to 50 gb.

    I usually do Marketing and Data mining, and am not associated with the TRUE IT dept., therefore I am not usually fully supported (read, they don’t give a #$%^ about me or my data). I find it easy and painless to BU to a seperate hard drive, reservered for that purpose. Depending on the project, just coping the data over to a dated folder works. No extra programs required.

    But then I have really learned over the past five years, to be very protective of thousands of Mg’s.

    As the time to replace, and project delays are not desired. One time they even canceled the project. Sucks. But, like you I learned.

    Sam

  • Posted by Connie on October 21st, 2004, 9:02 AM

    Meryl,
    No horror stoies of my own, even though I have a wallapallooza. Right now, get well and heal and don’t let computers stress you out. A doc friend of mine said that modern medicine can heal the outside quicker, but the inside takes just as long as caveman days so don’t overdo. Eveything always works out…NOT LOL
    Connie

  • Posted by Wizard Prang on October 21st, 2004, 9:25 AM

    I have learned the hard way never to trust Technical Support – half of them are chronically overworked and underpaid and the other half are less competent than their “customers”.

    Personally I would not rest until I had a formal explanation as to why such an unforgivable screw-up could have occurred, along with an admission that it was their fault and a plan to prevent it from happening again. This sounds like a clear failure of Tech Support to do what they are being paid to do.

    I insist on having a tape backup on my machine. The most recent backup is kept offsite. Smaller backups are zipped and copied to a removable flash drive.

    I repeat – when it comes to backing up your data TRUST NO ONE.

  • Posted by Fred on October 21st, 2004, 9:35 AM

    Meryl, I know it’s your work PC and they “should” install at least a CD writer, but “they” haven’t.

    So, meanwhile, I suggest an external USB HD of your own. They are really pretty cheap these days, and at least for me, the possible benefit outweighs the cost. Plus, you could easily take it home, and also use it to back up stuff from your personal PC.

    I did a search on pricewatch.com and found a 120GB 5400 RPM External USB 2.0, for $89.95, plus about $15 shipping. You can upgrade to 7200 rpm for about $20 additional.

    There are smaller drives cheaper, bigger more expensive, but my point is that this is a good investment for you.

    Good luck, whatever you do,

    Fred

  • Posted by Adam on October 21st, 2004, 10:08 AM

    Ximeta (http://www.ximeta.com) makes a networkable external hard drive in differing capacities. I bought my 160 GB model at Best Buy this spring for $200 after rebates. It uses a proprietary driver for Ethernet connectivity, and also has a USB connection if you want to connect it directly. I have it connected to my switch at home and it works well. Just a thought…

  • Posted by Martin on October 21st, 2004, 12:21 PM

    Whoa guys, major security alert. If anybody responsible for securing corporate data or managing an IT infrastructure is reading this thread, you should be seeing flashing red lights and hearing a warning klaxon.

    What happened was inexcusable, and every IT staffer should be embarrassed at this level of support. But it does not justify breaking every IT and security rule. First, corporate data does not belong to you, it belongs to the company. Just to clear up any confusion, ANYTHING you do on a company computer can be considered corporate date. Backing up that data and bringing it home is no different that grabbing the PC off your desk and bringing it home. Worse, corporate data is now available in an easily portable and accessible format. That’s like handing it to any thief that wants it. Then there’s the whole issue of unauthorized IT projects, such as installing a backup device on your PC.

    To keep this short, here are some important points:

    One: The data isn’t yours, it’s the company’s. Treat it that way. If the company loses the data, it’s their fault, not yours (see point two).

    Two: Follow company policy in regards to storing and backing up data. If there is no policy, become a champion in creating one. Any responsible IT department will be very concerned that resources you need to perform your job are always available to you.

    Three: If you insist on backing up your data outside the normal process, ensure that you have IT approval and backing. And never take data off site without written permission from management.

    Finally, it’s been my experience that no matter how large the company, when the money’s tight the first place to make cuts is IT. This doesn’t excuse or even explain what happened, but it is a fact of life. I’ve been supporting users in one way or another for almost 20 years, and speaking from this side of the IT fence, what I’ve read here is really scary. Guys, IT may be a service division, but that doesn’t mean we’re servants. Work with us and I’m sure you’ll find a group of folks who are genuinely concerned with making your day better. Ignore us, or worse work around us, and you’ll find that your efforts cause far more problems for more people than anything you tried to fix.

  • Posted by Jim Andrews on October 21st, 2004, 1:18 PM

    What works for me is Daily, Weekly & Monthly data dumps to an external HD. The System itself is kept trim with most applications installed to a different external drive, so my System backup is less than critical. MyDocs also reside on that physical Disk in their own partition.

    The beauty of it is USB allows me to plug the external drives into my Notebook, with a few System folder changes via TweakUI everything remains fully functional should the Desktop need to visit the shop (and there’s virtually no personal information to worry about falling into the wrong hands.) While hardly a business solution or model of major security, it serves me well enough.

  • Posted by Bob Coleman on October 21st, 2004, 1:22 PM

    It seems strange that this company only has 30 days of data backups available. I have had situations where I have been required to look-up data that is 5-6 years old. Our company has readable backups dating from the first day of doing business (8 years).

  • Posted by Jay on October 21st, 2004, 2:46 PM

    I happen to be a backup admin for an international corporation. I have to backup approx. 40+ servers. I run daily cumulative and weekly full backups. I send the weekly full backup that immediately falls after End of Month “OFFSITE” !!!!! I back up to tape and do NOT have to worry about any server or pc dying. I hope that give you an idea of a very safe way to back your data up!

  • Posted by James Andrews on October 22nd, 2004, 9:08 AM

    I didn’t want to push a particular product, but I use BackUpForAll ( http://www.backup4all.com/ )which automates the process, but costs a bit. TaskZip ( http://www.pb-sys.com/ ) was equally effective, but slower at compacting although a freeware alternative, so you can’t beat the price. Both support Full, Differential and Incremental style backups.

    Even Karen Kenworthy’s Replicator ( http://www.karenware.com/powertools/ptreplicator.asp ) would serve (though it wouldn’t zip the resulting copies) so the enterprising geek would be able to write their own batch file to shove the results through a command line zipping program.

    All of these alternatives can run in the background. If you insist on burning something, the first 2 mentioned will split the output into CD sized chunks. A batch file could start the burn, if your software supports a command line, but changing CDs is another matter.

    Again, my original post related more to Data backups to external drives than a full System backup. In the case Meryl described, it would have saved a lot of grief. For most home users, even SOHO it would be practical, simple to set up and nearly maintenance free. Where it would be unsuited to business use lies in the physical security of the actual machine — not a problem usually unless you live in Florida, California or in the shadow of Mt St Helen’s.

  • Posted by Drew on October 23rd, 2004, 10:10 AM

    I’m sure that Mr’s Sarbanes and Oxley would be very interested to know why your company is only retaining 30 days worth of data… ;-)

    I’d be demanding your data be recovered from the backup taken prior to the server being decomissioned, or whatever else happened to it.. They did take that backup right???

    Good Luck!!

  • Posted by Rusty Roestorf on October 23rd, 2004, 12:14 PM

    I have just read all your comments after reading Meryl’s account of lost data and you guys scared the bejasus out of me.
    I’m a geriatric old fart that lives in South Africa and can’t even spell tekkie, Tcehnie,geeknotek, whatever.
    I run XP home (Pentium 4 with 2x40gb internal hard drives.)
    I have Norton system works which includes Norton ghost.
    My quezzie is what do I back up and how?
    Do I back up downloaded programs as well as files and how do I go about it?
    Please explain it to me like you would to a retarded two year old.
    My email address is rustyonline@telkomsa.net

    Thanks in anticipation,
    Rusty

  • Posted by terry bernstein on October 23rd, 2004, 3:53 PM

    I am deputy principle for a school support team in special ed.
    I manage the network that has all out reports and resources on.
    We have a tape drive with 10 daily back-up tapes. Every school vacation I remove one tape off site.
    (That’s also often when I replace a tape with a newer one).
    Every time out central database is used a copy is saved on the user machine.
    Once a month I copy all the key data items from the network to CDRW and remove it off site.

    You can never be too paranoid!

  • Posted by Geek News Central on October 24th, 2004, 11:48 PM

    Backup Nightmare Story

    Imagine this if you will. Your employer tells you that you shall store all of your work on the network…

  • Posted by Walter Meier on October 25th, 2004, 2:42 PM

    Meryl,

    With the price of flash drives getting ridiculously cheap, I’d invest in one or two (at about $80 for a GIG drive, it’s cheap insurance!). Even if you pay for it yourself (if you can’t expense it any other way) the price is well worth it considering the time and effort you’ll need to get your data back.

    Even if it saves you a couple of hours when you can restore an “oops” yourself instead of putting in a request to your IT department to restore a file from the backups, it’s worth it.

  • Posted by Lockergnome's Windows Fanatics on October 26th, 2004, 3:01 PM

    Backing up Personal Computers

    As a result of the Back up, back up, back up! entry, several have asked what and how to back up stuff on a personal computer since the article focused on business computers. Backup on business computers is typically not…

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