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BOFH: Don't back up in anger

And soooooo, Brian can wait. You know it's too late when PFY walks by

It's beer o clock for sysadmins. Photo by SHutterstock
Meeting cancelled? Beer o' clock it is, then...

Episode 3 Backups.

Backups Backups Backups.

Backups Backups Backups Backups Backups.

What more can I say?

"So do you have a backup of that?" the Boss asks.

"No."

"We don't back up your laptop."

"But you told me you back up everything?"

"Everything on the server, yes."

"YOU SAID you backed up everything but desktop machines."

"Yes."

"Well my laptop isn't a desktop machine!"

"Where do you use it?"

"That doesn't matter; it's a laptop, not a desktop."

"It's not backed up."

"Then how am I supposed to recover the past week's work?"

"Does Solitaire not have a save-game?" the PFY asks, unable to resist pulling the tiger's tail.

"It can only save one game, not 500," I add, because... well, there's blood in the water.

...

"That was quick," the PFY says, after the Boss has stormed off, no doubt to whine to the Director about lack of respect or something equally... well, true.

...

"So there's NO backups?" the Director asks.

"None at all - we don't take backups of desktops," I reply.

"But this isn't a desktop," the Boss shoots back, going for technicality points.

"Yet when I handed you the laptop when you started and warned you to save all your work on the shared drive BECAUSE WE DON'T BACK UP DESKTOPS you didn't think to point that out then?"

"I just assumed you were telling me about Standard Operating Procedures."

"Well this is most inconvenient," the Director snaps. "Brian here is supposed to be doing a presentation on the implementation of ISO9001 across the IT department to the Board tomorrow. Brian's a bit of an expert at 9001, having implemented it in a couple of his former workplaces. He'd all but finished his PowerPoint presentation."

I am of the feeling that Brian is actually a bit of an expert at padding out his CV with bullshit given the number of "Understanding ISO 9001:2008" documents that have been left on the shared printer over the past week or so.

Part of me is wondering if there ever WAS a presentation document at all, and there's only one way to find out.

"Well, we could use a deletion recovery tool I suppose. Get the deleted data back from his drive."

"You can't," the Boss chips back. "It's deleted."

"Yes, it's deleted, but the deletion process is a bit like tearing the index pages out of a book. The content is still there but the index to it isn't. The software just rebuilds an index to deleted content."

"Yes, but it's deleted," the Boss says. "Secure deleted."

"Oh you mean like a three pass overwrite?" the PFY asks.

"Yes," the Boss gasps, seeing a way out of the dog-ate-my-homework implosion.

"I only ask because we just got some forensic recovery software which can do 3-pass overwrite," he says, "but not 7."

"I think it might have been 7."

"Well we can give it a crack anyway," I say, reaching for his laptop.

"No, I don't think you'll be able to find anything - if you don't have backups," the Boss says, trying to change the focus of this conversation.

"They may as well try!" the Director says. "How long will it take?"

"It can take several hours as it does a bitwise comparison of tesla signatures on the disk surface. It can detect as low as 3 or 4 micro-gauss."

Honestly the PFY can churn complete garbage at the drop of a hat. I'd let him go on but the Boss and Director are already approaching coma-level dummy mode...

"So we'll have it by tomorrow's meeting at 2?" the Director asks. "I don't want to put the Board off again. I put them off once because of that anonymous bomb threat, but I really can't do that again."

"Look, I give you my word we'll have that presentation ready for you at the start of the meeting!" the PFY blurts.

... Later, in Mission Control...

"You know there's no presentation don't you?" I ask the PFY.

"Oh yeah - the Boss'd need to bathe in deodorant to mask that smell of fear."

"So why did you promise to recover the presentation?"

"A little white lie," the PFY says. "But I give you my word that I will have that presentation by tomorrow at 2!"

...

The next day at 1:59pm precisely the PFY rocks up outside the boardroom and hands the Boss his laptop.

"Found it!" the PFY gasps. "Took ages to recover it because of the number of edits you'd made to it. I've really only checked the first 3 or 4 slides but it looks to be all there."

The Director's ecstatic and the Boss looks like he may have crapped himself.

"That introduction to Resource Impacts was inspired!" the PFY says, and the Boss suddenly cheers up a little - like maybe the PFY put the laptop on his workbench at night and the elves came and created a 40-page PowerPoint presentation for him.

In case you're wondering, the elves didn't come at night. The Boss did though, searching high and low for the laptop that he'd presumably be outraged about the theft of.

If only the PFY hadn't taken it home with him.

"Well, let's get to it," the Director says.

"Actually, I'm feeling a little... under the weather. Must be something I ate."

"What a coincidence!" I say. "I've got a brand new roll of antacids - guaranteed to settle a bit of pre-presentation nerves!"

...

The Boss trolls into the meeting like a doomed man, but is surprised to find a number of well detailed, yet easy to understand slides about an ISO9001 implementation plan. Interesting key points and some to-the-point supporting pictures. Then some not altogether to-the-point supporting pictures.

Then some very disturbing pictures.

Then some very very disturbing text.

And more very disturbing pictures.

Then some security guards.

Then a job vacancy.


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