Marcel is whiling away the days as IT support for a few regional libraries. Typically, this means that he has to answer questions like "is this keyboard unplugged?" and "why does the screen turn off when I press this button on the monitor?"

Back in March, though, one of the libraries had a serious problem. The library has one central server that does all of their transaction logging — who has books checked out, which ones are overdue, which are on order, etc. It was turned off when Marcel arrived, and while he could get it to turn on, he couldn't get it to boot. Fortunately, they had a nightly backup, so Marcel had one of his coworkers run to get the backup tape. Meanwhile, Marcel tried everything he could to repair the system.

When his coworker came back with the tape, Marcel put it in and began restoring the backup. At about 10%, it failed. Marcel tried again and it failed again. His coworker rushed upstairs to get the previous day's backup, and Marcel tried his luck with it.

The tape seemed to be fine, but all the data was six months old. This was puzzling to Marcel and his coworker because the backup plan was designed to cover only the last three months. Marcel launched his investigation, asking around to find out who was in charge of the backups.

"I think Jan takes care of it on Mondays, then Chris handles Tuesdays." Marcel immediately got on the phone with Jan and asked what her process was.

"Well," started Jan, "every Monday morning I grab an empty tape from the top of the stack in the fireproof closet in the basement. Then I make a backup and put it in the 3rd floor fireproof closet." This was the process she was supposed to follow, which didn't answer the question of the six month old backup.

Marcel posed the same question to Chris. "Well, on Tuesday mornings I grab the tape from the top of the stack in the 3rd floor closet, make a backup, and put it in the basement fireproof closet."

With the mystery solved, Marcel was able to get the library to order new tapes with individual packaging. They're still not labeled, but Jan and Chris are hopefully not still passing the same tape back and forth.

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