WORLD BACKUP DAY BLOG! Backups and IT Conspiracies!

Userlevel 7
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My story goes back many years ago. At the time I was working abroad for an American real estate company. 
My manager was a decent person but very much into the whole "I am a manager" thing. He loved playing mind games with the staff by giving them the evil eye when he was not pleased and making elusive comments about imminent cutbacks in staff with a regretful but obvious smirk on this face. 

He also enjoyed demonstratively taking people into the server room for confidential talks. 
One day he asked me to come and have a talk in the server room so I knew that something unpleasant was afoot. 
He explained that the branch office in K. needed to do a server upgrade and he would have gone and performed the task himself but....blah blah. In short there was obviously something wrong with that office and he did not want to go.
I had a very early flight and arrived at the branch office before 8 am. Much to my surprise the local boss was already there. He immediately informed me that he was a former US Marine, which I found difficult to logically link to his current job as local branch manager of a real estate company in a country half way across the world.
Furthermore, he told me that he did not want me installing any of those "antiviruses" on the computers because they slowed everything down and people worked less.  I was beginning to understand why my manager was avoiding this trip at all costs.
At 9 am the local employees started to arrive all with looks on their faces like they were about to board the Titanic. 
I had told the former Marine that I needed to perform a backup before upgrading or else there could be massive repercussions, and while not being pleased since it might slow things down, he nevertheless agreed.
The server backups targeted tape and had not been working for Months so this backup would take hours. 
I decided to walk around the office and see if anyone had any issues with their systems in a fit of do-gooder’s mentality which I would soon regret. 
It seemed every workstation had an issue and while I wondered around fixing things I got a funny feeling that I was being watched.

It was not the local manager Marine as he was busy in his office talking with a buddy overseas about Basketball, but instead it was a lady from the accounting department. When I finally made it over to her desk she asked me if I was one of the helpers. I told her that while not being officially part of the central helpdesk I was in the IT department and was trying to be of some use while I waited for the server backups to complete. 
To my unfortunate surprise she brushed off my answer and declared "no I mean the helpers who are using these to affect our minds" and she pointed at a zip backup drive that everyone had for their local workstations. These zip drives were noisy I agree but at the time they were the only way to backup the user’s computers. Hoping that she was being humorous I stated "of course I am in charge of the backups as well". 
I soon realized by the expression on her face that she was being serious and needed no more convincing when she began to explain that the zip backup drive made sounds at a certain frequency which were programming everyone's minds. 
Now, I am a nice person and I try to be opened minded about things and will also admit that when the company ceremoniously gave everyone in the IT department this new super gadget called a blackberry I too had suffered a bout of conspiracy sickness. However, that was more a suspicion that somehow this device was going to get me to work more or God forbid keep track of me when I went to the pub for one of those long lunch sessions. I soon got over this feeling when I heard my boss let out wave after wave of expletives when trying to get the BES (Blackberry server software) to work properly. 
I also caught on quickly to the "my battery died" ruse and just kept the device turned off all the time. Not to say I did not find the blackberry quite useful since they were very new and extremely scarce in the city where I worked so I soon began pretending to talk loudly on the turned off device or furiously appear to be writing emails in the pub or bars hoping people would think that I was important.

This turned out not to be such a good idea as during one lunch session I managed to accidently drop the blackberry into my pint of beer. It had the whole bar table to fall on but it chose instead to dive smack into my pint glass. My relationships with cell devices ever since then has always been tumultuous.
After my blackberry drowned I had to pretend for a few Months to be talking on the phone in the office corridors or writing emails for fear someone would find out and deduct the device's cost out of my pay, but I digress. 
I eventually managed to escape the lady from accounting by telling her that Mr. mean manager had insisted that everyone have a zip drive at their desk and whispering confidentially told her that I had seen he kept a bunch of spares hidden in his office (in fact he kept all the spares for everything in his office as he did not trust the local staff and thought they would steal and sell the equipment). She turned her spooky gaze towards his office and I was free. I did find out later that this had all been an act as she was trying to get dismissed by the unpleasant to work for manager and by local law get compensation from the company. 

All the server backups failed but I was running out of time so went ahead with the upgrades anyways. These soon completed without issue and before leaving the office I decided to at least check out the local office kitchen and in that way not use up my per diem on purchased food.  I was pleased to see big bottles of milk and cereal so I dove in and got quite the wake up shock!
I was exhausted from the early morning flight and time change and had not really looked at the milk bottle labels.  It turned out that this dairy product was made from fermented horse milk and had about the same amount of alcohol in it as a light beer! Talk about adding a bang to your cheerios! Somehow spiked corn flakes did not appeal to me so I left to go do some sightseeing before my flight back. 
 A week later after returning home I found out that the branch office had been hit by a massive virus infection. No one had heeded my advice to fix the tape backups and their only good backups were from 4 Months ago. Quite mysteriously all of the zip drives had had their cables damaged so those backups too were useless.

In short, we should all be very thankful that we now have Veeam backing up our workstations and servers! It just works and to the best of my knowledge is not trying to program our minds! 


Userlevel 7
Badge +21

It is too bad they did not take your advice for fixing the backups. Great story 👍

Userlevel 7
Badge +6

That is an excellent personal statement, @Geoff Burke! Thanks for sharing! If their only good backups after the vírus attack were from 4 months ago, sure, that was a big problem for the company!  Unfortunately, good recommendations and practices are not always followed. 😯

Userlevel 7
Badge +8

Great story!!