As IT professionals, we are (or should be) quite obsessed with backups.

The question is … does our obsession go far enough?

Yes, I’m sure our IBM i systems are all backed up quite securely … with tapes being rotated and taken off site. Probably even a solid HA solution to mirror your operational environment to another machine.

But how many of us backup our workstations?

As we all know … hardware fails. It’s just a fact. Hard drives especially, as they have parts that are constantly moving.

When was the last time you backed up your workstation?

Not to take a ‘holier-than-thou’ stance … but I’ve got my workstation backed up three times a day to an external 500gb USB hard drive using Norton Ghost. I particularly like Norton Ghost because it can do a complete backup (or incremental) while I’m using the system. I’ve got it to configured to backup the entire system at 6am, 12pm, and 7pm. Full backup’s once a week the rest are incremental. I had to ask our IT manager for the drive and software.

Guess what: It’s saved my bacon more than a few times.

Case in point: A few weeks ago the main hard drive on my workstation started generating errors … mind you I wouldn’t have noticed if I didn’t check the Windows event log periodically (another pet peeve of mine, disk errors should generate critical error notifications in Windows).

I ran the built in disk diagnostics and was informed that there was an ‘Error 7’ on the hard drive.

I told our network administrator about it, he got me a replacement drive, I installed it, and started the restore from the backup.

My total down time was about 3 hours.

Had I not been doing regular backups of my workstation, my down time would have been significantly longer.

I would have had to reinstall windows, reinstall all software (some of which requires a LOT of time to install), reapply all the updates, reconstruct my development environment, and reconstruct any the local documents I had on my machine. Best guess as to down time: 2-3 days.

Take my advice … get some backup software that makes it easy to do regular backup’s for ALL the machines in your organization and start using it.

Oh, while you’re at it … pick up an inexpensive UPS for your workstation … there’s nothing more annoying than a minor power blink that causes your workstation to reboot.

About David:
David is a Principal Software Engineer for PTC, Integrity Business Unit. He cut his teeth on the S/36 and has more than 25 years of experience on the IBM i / System i / iSeries / AS400. He primarily works in Java and ILE RPG specializing in cross platform integrations. David has received the COMMON Distinguished Service award and was named an IBM Power Systems Champion. David is an active volunteer with the American Diabetes Association's Tour de Cure fundraising bike ride. He is currently captain of Team RED Chicago. David runs and maintains midrange.com. His personal blog is Geeky Ramblings.