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Re: "Our time is too valuable to do backups"

On Sun, 30 Dec 2001, Andrey Smagin wrote:

> I had to spend several
> days scanning the hard copies so we would have at least digial pictures
> of the drawings. We did not have enough time to redraw everything again.

There's never time to do it right. There's always time to do it over.
Backups are like a spare tire. If you never need it, it's a waste of
time, space and money. But as soon as you *do* need it (and, odds are,
you will), it saves you considerably more time and money.

> I don't have enough experience and education to be thinking about the
> resume. Everywhere I look they need Solaris or Linux experience, but I
> know little bit only about OpenBSD, since it is easier to learn and use
> than any other OS.

So? Put your resume together. Even if you don't think it looks like
much yet. Note your experience, and your accomplishments. Any projects
you've worked on, any improvements you've made. The time to put a
resume together is before you need to. And maybe you're not looking
to leave your current employer. Doesn't mean you can't make sure your
friends know where your resume is, and that they keep you in mind if
something good comes up.

> Officially I am just a technician and robotics programmer. It's not my
> responsibility to worry about all the computers and backups (I do it
> mostly during the off-work time, from home). Everybody here is
> responsible for their data, but only two guys actually backup their
> stuff on CDs and ZIP disks. I backup the database on the server to my
> home computer weekly.

Yike. Is that policy documented anywhere? I would want a clear answer
in writing when someone gets around to asking "whose responsibility
was that?".

> That's a good advice, I did not think about it before. I can just bring
> my old Sun Exabyte 8mm drive from home once a month on the weekend and
> backup everything. Another problem arises though - a lot of the stuff is
> confidential and keeping it off-site introduces another risk.

Well, don't do your own offsite storage. (That is, don't take tapes
home for "safekeeping".) If you contract with a vendor (Iron Mountain,
Recall), the contract should specify confidentiality, security, and
emergency return conditions. There is a certain amount of trust involved,
but that's what the Legal Department is for.

> It would take me several days to rebuild our small internal server from
> scratch - too much stuff is installed, configured and customized there.
> I spent last 7 days (my whole Christmas and New Year vacation)  working
> for 15 hours a day to setup/upgrade everything for the next year. I
> saved amost everything on CDs, so I am OK now.

See, this is where someone needs to sit down with HR or Accounting,
whoever can provide good numbers. How much is a single engineer-hour
worth? How much does it cost (in terms of employees sitting on their
hands) per hour if your servers blow up? How long would it take to
recreate all data for project <foo>, if that's even possible?

This applies for backups, UPSen, and security policies. They all cost
money up front. But can you afford to be without them in a worst-case
| Dave Taira <bodhi_(_at_)_hagakure_(_dot_)_org>                2001.12.30/14:12:22 PST |
| Morlock for Hire                                                       |
| "Well, since you got here by not thinking, it seems reasonable to      |
|  expect that, in order to get out, you must start thinking."           |
|                                --The Watchdog, _The Phantom Tollbooth_ |