One morning a user came rushing into my office with a panicked expression upon her face. "I need a file backed up as soon as possible!" she exclaimed breathlessly.
Usually when a user asks me to back up a file, I find that they are actually requesting that the file be restored. I asked her to have a seat so we could determine the real issue.
The first question I asked her was, "What was the name of the file?" She quickly started rambling off a multitude of names that the file might actually have been called. Eventually the two of us realized that she didn't know the actual file name. A wave of distress consumed her. I assured her that this would probably not be a problem if she could recognize the file if she saw it. Her eyes lit up and we continued troubleshooting.
"Where was the file located?" I asked. Once again, there was a look of confusion. I continued with a series of questions attempting to narrow down where the file would have been backed up.
"Which server was it on?" She shrugged her shoulders. "What share?" She shrugged her shoulders. "What project was it associated with?" She shrugged her shoulders. "When was the last time you had used this file?" She shrugged her shoulders again.
It was becoming apparent that I was going to be putting in quite a bit of effort to recover this file for this poor user and we were both starting to get really frustrated. Eventually, she started mumbling under her breath that the file was created a very long time ago and she sorry she was having trouble remembering the details. Suddenly, I had a thought. I asked her, "Are you sure this file really ever existed?"
She just sat and looked at me. We both sat in silence as she formulated her thoughts. Finally, she said in a quiet voice, "I really don't know for sure whether it ever existed. But I do know that if it did exist, I really need it."
I stared at her in disbelief and calmly asked her whether she heard what she just said. She thought about it for a few seconds and then her face turned bright red. She smiled sheepishly at me and stood up and left the room.
Lesson learned: Make sure a file really exists before you decide to panic about backing it up!
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