Beyond the Backup


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We work with data. Tons of it. Scads. Think back to precomputer operations when we didn't worry about server space. In those days we needed file cabinet space because we stored so much paper. Now that nearly everything is digitized, we probably save more than we need to, but we are making backups to protect ourselves from losing the data during a failure.

Chriss Scherer

Or perhaps so we think.

I'm sure you have a backup system in place on your network. Because your network data is the life of your business operation, I'm sure you check that it has run nightly or weekly as its scheduled. But even with a fixed system in place, are you really backed up?

The other day I was updating our Today in Radio History page on the Radio magazine website. I constantly receive updates to the information posted there, so I frequently access the content management system to update the information. I was working through my usual steps, but I decided to remove a redundant element on the page. I work in this CMS all the time, so I'm very comfortable in checking boxes, updating entries and clicking the appropriate boxes to make the changes.

Perhaps I get too comfortable.

As I went through the steps to delete the element, I clicked a button by mistake. No problem. I'll click cancel and return to the previous step. Except I didn't click cancel. In a moment of false security I clicked delete. And not delete element, but delete story.

The resulting prompt asked if I was sure I wanted to delete the entire story. Having seen these prompts countless times and feeling too confident in my rapid pace, I didn't read the actual prompt because I thought I knew what I was doing. I clicked yes.

That was the moment the world stopped spinning, my heart stopped beating and everything went silent. Wait; did I just do what I think I did?

Yes; I did. Great.

Once the stunned sensation passed (in seconds) and before the anger at myself set in, I quickly considered what I could do to reverse my error. I know the entire website is backed up often. I was sure I could call someone to have the data retrieved in some way. I had never done that so I had no idea how involved the process would be or how long it could take. The history page is a popular one as well, and I didn't want to have it show the dreaded 404 error for more than a few minutes.

Then I realized I might have an instant backup, albeit a temporary one. I had the Radio magazine website open in another browser, although not on the history page. I clicked the back button and the page was still loaded in the cache. I instantly saved the HTML. Now I had the data I needed to reconstruct the page, which took about 1 minute.

Needless to say I was relieved.

But this experience reminded me about the importance of not only having a backup, but being able to access it quickly when it's needed. At a station, this could be a processor setting or a console configuration. If something happened, would it take you minutes, hours or days to reconstruct the file and return to regular operations?

Our history page is the result of ongoing updates, and to reconstruct it from scratch would take considerable effort. I now keep an instant backup handy so I can at least create an incremental backup in a short time if needed. Perhaps you should inventory your data and determine what critical data you should have for instant access.




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