Computer Stupidities - Backups

Although some people need to learn about backups the hard way, even the most illiterate of computer illiterates have had it ingrained in to their heads that they should backup their data on a regular basis. The problems arise when people fail to learn how to create a backup correctly.

Customer: "The printer has been acting up. Could that be the cause of our backups failing?"

Customer: "What do you mean, other tape? When it said second volume, I just hit enter again."

Tech Support: "Have you made backups of your software and data?"

Customer: "I didn't know it had a reverse."

Customer: "Michaelangelo virus ate my hard disk, but I have a tape backup. Can you help me restore the system?"

No problem. When I arrive, I find out that the last time she had run a backup was 18 months ago. Worse, she hadn't done it correctly:

Customer: "I thought you just shoved in the tape, and it sucked up the data."

A friend at work had to visit a police station to work on a Clipper database recording parking fines. Before he started work he made sure to check that the staff had a backup of the database in case anything went wrong.

"Oh yes, every evening we back it up onto a floppy disk and take it over to the other building and lock it in a fire-proof safe."

"Very good," said my colleague, impressed at their security-consciousness -- if only all our customers could be so efficient! But then something they'd said made him pause. "Wait a minute - did you say a floppy disk? You mean you back up the whole database onto a single diskette?"

"Yes, that's right. Just one."

"But this diskette can only hold 1.44 Mb of data -- you've got over ten megabytes in this system. What exactly do you do to make the backup?"

So they showed him. Every day they'd religiously inserted a fresh diskette into the drive, typed "FORMAT A:", and, "backup complete," they deposited the newly formatted, but quite empty, diskette in the safe.

Before starting his work, my friend showed them how to really make a backup, which was fortunate for my friend, if not for the local parking offenders, as a week later the PC in question suffered a complete hard-drive failure.