A Blank Disk

While most people nowadays work doubly hard to ensure a stable future, Motley Fool recently sent included in their newsletter some statistics showing very few of us actually do security measures for these hard-earned savings such as keeping a copy of our records on a floppy or CD! Problem becomes even bigger when this leniency is carried over to a larger scale, and there lies the rub as you could see in the following post.

I was recently performing some consultancy for a company. They had suffered a break in, and although nothing had been stolen, their insurance company insisted that a review should be made of their IT systems, with particular reference to disaster recovery.

At the time, they did not have any formal backup procedures, except for their accounts. The bookkeeper dutifully followed the procedure that she had been taught for storing the accounts on a floppy disk, and would take a disk home each night. I was pleased that at least one part of the data was being kept safely. I established a more general procedure for saving all of the essential information, but, being unfamiliar with the package the company used for its accounts, I asked the bookkeeper to demonstrate what she did for backup. I saw her save the accounts from one part of the computer's hard disk to another, but not to the backup disk. Just in case I had misunderstood, I examined the empty backup disk, and found it... empty.

The moral of the tale – just because somebody tells you something – even if they honestly believe it – you can't be sure it's true unless you check the facts yourself. Occasionally it is worth reviewing what you believe to be the truth – you might be surprised.

addendum

A couple of years after I wrote this article, I returned to the company and found that the bookmaker was supposed to be backing up onto a memory stick. I again watched her procedure, and noticed that she had reverted to backing up to the hard drive. When I questioned this, she assured me that it was how she had been shown to do it. Since the memory stick backup was an identical procedure to the floppy disk based backup, i was unconvinced.

Additional moral - People who make errors often continue to repeat the same errors, unless carefully watched and advised.