Stupid user tricks 3: IT admin follies

IT heroes toil away unsung in miserable conditions -- unsung, that is, until they make a colossally stupid mistake

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Stupid user trick No. 2: Oh, you wanted to recover those backups?
Suppose your company's mission was to inform others about the business of technology. Surely you'd want your own IT operations to be above the cut, if only to maintain a modicum of credibility with your readers.

In one of the more amazing not-practicing-what-you-preach stories of recent history, the editorial and design staff of tech-centric Business 2.0 somehow managed to lose its entire June 2007 issue to a hard-drive failure on its editorial server sometime during the night of April 23, 2007.

[ Think you're above a boneheaded IT miscue? Prove it, by taking our IT IQ Test ]

As wrenching as it must have felt for its editorial staff to realize that a month's worth of work was gone, that sinking feeling in the pit of the stomach must have been compounded by its status as a standard-bearer for sound data-protection practices, including frequent and comprehensive backups.

Well, at least the Business 2.0 IT staff did the backup part. What they never seemed to do was the restore part, as a test to make sure the backups were readable and that they worked. And that's exactly what failed when the admins tried to recover from the catastrophic crash.

Fallout: As for the editorial content of the issue, it turned out that the lawyers had copies of every article in a final, copyedited state. But the layout and design of the magazine had to be re-created from scratch. A heroic effort from Business 2.0's art department saved the day and got the magazine produced (reproduced?) in record time, on deadline for press.

Moral: As any halfway sensible IT person will tell you, it's not enough just to back up the data; you also have to test those backups periodically to make sure they actually work.

[ Stupid user trick No. 3: Soup of the day: Social Security numbers ]

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