I noticed a recent thread about backup over at comp.os.linux.misc where someone asserted that the value of backups fades very quickly with time, and that there is no value in long term backups.
I disagree rather strongly. Many a time I have resurrected data from "old" tapes when it was found that the new tapes were unreadable or that important data had been damaged some time ago without being noticed - the "useless" old tapes had the data. I encourage having at least an "end of last month" set and an "end of last year" isn't a bad idea either.
Sometimes the availability of this old data has been of forensic interest - I've had customers who have been the victim of embezzlement or other computer crime and the availability of old data allowed reconstruction of the crime. I've also had customers experience disasters where they have lost everything, and found that their current backups were also damaged: the ancient data wasn't a great place to start rebuilding, but it was a heck of a lot better than nothing at all.
It's just not true that the value of backups is ephemeral. For example, some of the Cobol programs I took from a very old sco box and brought to life on a Linux box should have been on tapes; it was fortunate that the drives hadn't died completely:Transfer SCO Acucobol to Linux. As the programs themselves hadn't changed in years, even a very old tape would have been valuable.
By the way, later in the thread the person who said long term backups had no value stated that "archives" was the proper term for what I was referring to as long term backup, and that archives are valuable. I fail to see any important reason for this distinction: an "archive" is still an old backup. Some folks call current backups "archives" too, so to me it all sounds pretty much the same. It's a tape or other storage medium; all I want to know is what's on it and when was it made. Call it whatever you want.
However, speaking of overkill: Every Single One was an example of saving just a little too much.
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More Articles by Tony Lawrence © 2009-11-07 Tony Lawrence