Unclear on this whole 'backups' concept

This government agency does lots of time-critical and space-consuming analyses, and with multiple people using each data set, it's a version-control challenge, says an analyst pilot fish on the scene.

"Then the boss called a meeting to tell us his great idea: Every analyst team should place all its files for any project, including backups, into a single master folder," fish says. "That way, according to the boss, we'll maintain better version control.

"I respectfully disagreed. Make sure our backups are on a different physical disk from the main files, I urged. That way, when a disk crashes, we can immediately restore from backup and keep working. And we can maintain version control with a coherent logical structure that doesn't force everything onto one physical drive.

"Boss pooh-poohed this idea. Central IT support staff can easily restore files from the master backups, he insisted. No problem!

"True, I said, they can restore our files -- along with all the other files caught in the crash. That will take several hours, and we won't be their highest priority.

"Boss insisted, of course.

"Mercifully, I was out of there before the next disk crash. One of the unit's IT guys, who had all been grinning conspiratorially at me during the meeting, ran into me at a conference and told me how right I'd been. They lost about six hours."

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