Shark Tank: Think of it as a token of our appreciation

It's just after the Y2k turnover, and this pilot fish is a systems analyst at a small manufacturer where most of the software is running on an aging minicomputer.

"About mid-March of 2000, the sysadmin came and told me that we had a drive that was failing on the system," says fish. "He had called tech support, and the vendor would have the new hard drive ready to install over the weekend.

"I told the sysadmin that was good and to make sure that we had good backups before anything was done. I didn't think anything else about it."

Friday night at 10 p.m., fish gets a call from the very panicked sysadmin. There was a system crash while the vendor tech was installing the new hard drive, sysadmin says.

Fish tells sysadmin that once the new hard drive is installed, he should just restore everything from the backup.

Um, not possible, sysadmin tells him.

"Little did I know that the only tape drive had gone out and was being repaired as well," fish sighs. "The sysadmin and vendor tech had decided to replace the hard drive without doing a system backup first.

"I asked the sysadmin when the last good backup was taken. After a long pause, he said it was in November."

On the way into the office, fish remembers that he was the one who made that backup -- just before the Y2k conversion.

The sysadmin refuses to be the one to report the crash, so it's fish who makes the painful call to management. And over the next 50 hours, fish splits his time between piecing together bits and pieces of data from partial backup tapes and constantly updating the bosses on what's going on.

"By 9 a.m. Monday morning, I was holding a meeting with upper management and all the user base," says fish. "Here I was, no sleep since Thursday night -- I hadn't even left once over the weekend to freshen up -- telling everyone what happened and that they had lost only two weeks of data.

"The sysadmin, who had gone home over the weekend, walked into the meeting and got a big thank-you from management.

"What did I get? I got to leave work early that day."

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Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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