Disaster Preparedness

Posted July 1996

When most of us computer types use those two words together in a sentence, we’re usually referring to being prepared in the event a catastrophe befalls your computer system. And we’ve seen more examples of this than we’d like to admit to. Everything from spilled Cokes in terminals to direct lightning hits on the main computer. The question then is how fast can we patch together and/or replace the dead pieces/parts to get the system running again.
This week we were reminded of another type of disaster preparedness. A local propane supplier’s fill plant caught fire and almost a hundred propane cylinders exploded before it was all over. It burned down a total of four businesses, including their neighboring direct competitor. As we listened to the news reports (and watched the smoke billowing over town), we began to contemplate what we’d need to grab on our way out the door on the off chance there would be no door there when we got back the next morning.

It turned out to be quite simple in the end. Grab last nights nabar backup tape, and if time permits, quiet down the system and run another fresh backup before leaving. The more industrious of us could have carefully disconnected the external cabeling from the main computer, and carried it out also, thereby insuring its survival.

We hereby remind you that your backup tapes should be stored in a fire-proof safe, or better yet off-site, leaving only the tape for tonight’s backup on-site (in the computer itself). And, you should be using no less than five tapes (usually one for each weekday) in rotation.

In practice, this means; whomever is responsible for switching backup tapes in the morning should check the console terminal to make sure the backup/reorg ran OK, then remove last nights tape from the system and put it in their briefcase or purse to take home. The tape for tonight’s backup, which was last used a week ago, should then be put into the tape drive, where it will sit until needed later tonight.

Furthermore, your system should be configured to backup the data and archive directories if space permits, so that one tape contains all your corporate information. If you are not sure what’s being backed up by nabar, check the first line of the nabar message put on your console screen each night.

And for those of you beginning to sprout networks of Windows workstations, we remind you that prudent corporate policy suggests keeping ALL PERMANENT FILES on the network file server (the I: drive), where it is backed up on a nightly basis (the `/net’ directory). PC workstation users are notorious for creating all sorts of important files on their local hard drives without a care in the world for getting it backed up.