The Reserve Tank

I’m writing this post from my back-up computer.  Actually, it’s the back-up to my back-up and I’ve fired it up because I’m using my real back-up to do my work since my main desktop died.  Turns out there are really excellent reasons to turn your computer off at night besides the environmental concerns and those reasons involve fried capacitors (mmm…fried!).  But that’s not our subject this morning nor is a rant about the evil machines that run our lives.

I learned a lesson many years ago in a TV production meeting and it’s served me well as I migrated into digital.  It’s been one I’ve tortured my folks with but I think they’ve come to understand why I did so and so I’m sharing it with you today.

I learned the lesson while listening to a show producer argue with a unit manager over the need to spend a lot of money on back-up power for an event taking place in an arena that supposedly had its own generator.  The unit manager wanted to save on the costs and the producer wanted to be sure the broadcast would go off without a hitch.  For the TV power to be needed, the city power would have to fail and the arena’s generator would have to fail too.  The general question had to do with the willingness of all parties to roll the dice on some very strange circumstances happening.

Here’s the thing:  those really off the charts strange things do happen.  I mean who would think you’d need to deal with an earthquake while covering a baseball game?  Since then I’ve always made my folks walk through some extreme scenarios as we’ve discussed redundancies and disaster planning.  I know some of them thought it was a running joke but as we learned on 9/11 when the dust in the air in lower Manhattan brought the back-up power generators down, even extreme cases happen.  We had no back-up to our back-up power (meaning another place to host our site) so we were off the web for a few days.

It doesn’t have to be that extreme.  Just the other day, a client had sites unavailable for an hour since the back-up didn’t work for certain web addresses (the non-www versions) in the very unique circumstances we had created to fix a problem.  The back-ups had always worked before but we had never pulled the servers offline before so we found a hole.  We’re patching it.

I have back-up computers.  If my ISP fails, I can use my smart phone and I know where there’s public WiFi a few minutes away (this was needed last March when the power was out for days).  Your back-ups need back-ups.

This PC is slow and it took an hour to boot up and patch itself.  But it’s working and business (and blogs) go on.  Have you found the need to call on your back-up?  Did you have one in place or did you have to scramble (or worse)?

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