Backups: Slam Dunk? Well, No and Finding That Out Is a Shock to Some

January 9, 2023

Flash back in time: You have an early PC. You have files on floppy discs. In order to copy a file, one had to fiddle around, maybe swapping discs or a friend in the technology game with a disc duplicator. When one disc is bad, one just slugs in the second disc. Oh, oh. That disc is bad too. In the early 1980s, that type of problem on an Eagle computer or DEC Rainbow could force a person back to a manual typewriter and a calculating machine with a handle no less.

Today, life is better, right? There are numbers that explain the mean time between failure of speedy solid state discs. If one pokes around, there are back-in-fashion tape back up systems. Back up software can be had for free or prices limited only by the expertise of the integrator bundling hardware and software. Too expensive? Lease the hardware and toss in a service plan. What happens when the back up data on the old, reliable magnetic tape cannot be read? Surprise.

The cloud provides numerous back up options. One vendor, which I shall not name, promises automatic back up. The surprise on the face of the customer who stores high-value data in a uniquely named file folder is fascinating. You may be able to see this after a crash and the cloud believer learns that the uniquely named folder was not backed up. Surprise for sure.

I read “EA Says It Can’t Recover 60% of Players’ Corrupted Madden Franchise Save Files.” I am not into computer games. I don’t understand the hardship created by losing a “saved game.” That’s okay. The main point of the article strikes me as:

EA says that a temporary “data storage issue” led to the corruption of many Madden NFL 23 players’ Connected Franchise Mode (CFM) save files last week. What’s worse, the company now estimates it can recover fewer than half of those corrupted files from a backup.

It is 2023, isn’t it?

What’s clear is that this company did not have a procedure in place to restore lost data.

Some things never change. Here’s an example. Someone calls me and says, “My computer crashed.” I ask, “Do you have a back up?” The person says, “Yes, the system automatically saves data to an external drive.” I ask, “Do you have another copy on a cloud service or a hard drive you keep at a friend’s house?” The person says, “No, why would I need that?”

The answer, gentle reader, is that multiple back ups are necessary even in 2023.

Some folks are slow learners.

Stephen E Arnold, January 9, 2023


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