Great Moments In Backup: A Personal Tale

By Matt Tyrer

Like many of you, I’ve been around the block having cut my teeth on many facets of the industry over my something like two decades of work in this technology business we call IT (among other things 😉).  This month, we celebrate something that has been an underpinning foundation of that industry – Backup. It is no random gesture that World Backup Day falls right before “April Fools’” as we can all attest: Anyone that doesn’t have a backup will soon be a fool :P.

So I wanted to take a moment to share my own “GREAT MOMENT OF BACKUP,” when it really came in to save my bacon (and bacon is good!). I also lied just now as I plan to share two stories, which may or may not include bacon – yet definitely cover backup.

Tale the first: Those aren’t supposed to touch

This was a frightful tale, but had a happy outcome. Picture it: Ottawa, 2008, I’m a week into joining Commvault and I’m moving files from computer A to computer B (because I can play Diablo and WoW better on the new system!). The external drive I had most of my files on happened to be sitting upright for most of its life – until it wasn’t. So the external drive fell over and I could hear the platters (not the band!) make contact with things inside.The drive was down, we could not access it by “natural” means and needed to turn to a third party to forensically recover the data. That data included (but was not limited to):

  • My first born’s baby pictures (why do we not print those!!!!!) and video
  • Family photos
  • Personal documents and files (you know, like the important ones you need)
  • Saved games (totally important back then)
  • Music/movie/media files that we didn’t have the originals for anymore

You get the picture, but really the first two bullets were what had us almost in tears, as those were the things we needed to have back. Thankfully the third-party data recovery service was able to recover my files, and while that was happening I found a BACKUP copy I’d made (just in case) on some CD-R disks (yup, we did use those!). After that, I’ve always been sure that all of my systems – personal or professional – are properly protected. Thankfully, I happen to work for a company that excels at that which leads into tale two …

Tale the second: Lifeblood spilt upon thine system

Those who know me realize that I am a talker and a vivacious hand talker at that. This extra animation certainly helps convey my passion and excitement about various topics, but it also skirts me close to certain doom as it intersects with another element of my life – coffee. Picture it: Ottawa, 2014, and I’m due to present our business case and financials to a customer at the tail end of a lengthy campaign. While regaling my sales counterpart with my presentation (I was a system engineer at the time), I happened to knock my (very full) coffee mug onto my laptop quickly, cutting things short.

Assessing the damage, I determined the amount of coffee dripping from the innards of my computer was above the critical mass of “will it still turn on.” Thankfully, Commvault practices what we preach and I had a full system backup from the last time I changed a file on my system (woot deduped block incremental backups!). So, being a standard geek and having multiple devices on my person at any given time, I pulled out my tablet and was able to recover the files I needed from our internal cloud. The presentation went off without a hitch thanks to backups!

The moral of the story

It doesn’t matter what it is or where it lives, your data needs to be protected. So, on World Backup Day (March 31), I’d love for you to share with me your own GREAT MOMENTS IN BACKUP and celebrate those times where something often left as an afterthought became the most critical part of your life. Data has value, whether personal or business related, so make sure you treat it right and back that s%*t up 😊.