“Shadow Backups FTW!”

One of the first things they tell you in school or in the production environment as an IT guy is to back everything up, especially before you’re going to make a series of changes to something that you aren’t 100% sure will ultimately work. The 2nd part of this is documentation, which, if you’ve had any sort of formal education, should absolutely be drilled into you.

The hard part is remembering to do it, especially when the issue needed to be fixed yesterday. Most of this documentation and backing up is proactive, meaning you have to set schedules and draw diagrams and all that. Today, however, I learned about shadow backups.

Yesterday, as I was finishing work on one of a bajillion spreadsheets that I keep, I went to navigate to a link on my desktop that points to my IT directory. This directory is located on a network share that only executives have access to even see. The link promptly told me that the destination didn’t exist and wanted to commit itself to the depths of the Recycle Bin, as it had outlived its usefulness.

After allowing my trusty icon to Kevorkian itself, I navigated to the directory manually to find that it wasn’t there. At that point, I began to panic. I tried getting to it by using the IP of the file server. I made sure my files weren’t hidden. I searched through several hundred gigs of files using 3rd party file searching programs (namely FileLocator Pro) to see if it got moved… with no luck.

So, I put in a ticket. It’s always a shot to the ego when I have to do this, because it means that I’ve failed. It’s nice to have a MSP to back you up, but still.

This morning he remoted into my machine, and navigated to the drive where the directory used to be. He right-clicked the drive, selected the “Previous Versions” tab, and restored an image from 2 days prior. An archived version of the entire drive popped up, and he simply copy/pasted my old directory into the new one. Everything was exactly as I left it, and the ticket was closed in around 2 minutes.

The question is, then, why in the world did I not know that? I think the entire System Restore capability and its associated features are something that we just don’t think about until we absolutely need it, sort of like car insurance. I’m definitely glad it’s there, though.

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