Occasionally – I’m too embarrassed to say how occasionally – I make a complete backup of all the computers in our home and store a copy offsite. The probabilities governing offsite backup fascinate me. It’s not very important if the offsite copy gets lost or damaged, because it’s very unlikely I’ll ever need it. I just want to guard against a disaster that might destroy a computer and not affect the offsite copy as well. I can give the copy to a neighbor who lives a hundred yards away. (New Jersey rarely experiences tornadoes, flash floods, or giant forest fires, so a disaster that affects my home is unlikely to affect my nearby neighbor.)
Recently, I made such a backup. I packaged it nicely in a little cardboard box, and arranged to store it at a friend’s house. I put the copy in the trunk of my car, and that week, well, we never quite got together. The following week, my friend and I hardly saw each other at all, and when we did, I didn’t remember the backup. I wasn’t worried. A disaster could strike our house: robbery, fire (oh let’s not mention these things!) and leave my car unscathed.
The next week, my car went to the body shop for repairs. I figured that was great. My offsite copy (encrypted, by the way) was now six miles away from home, and likely to be very safe.
My car returned from the shop looking brand new. I forgot all about the backup.
Last weekend, we went to a wedding in Maryland. I cleared out the trunk to make room for luggage, tossing some old scraps, empty boxes and dirty cloths. It wasn’t till this afternoon that it hit me: I had thrown away the box containing the backup.
Replacing the backup wouldn’t be that hard, but it would be a time-waster, a small cost, a nuisance, and proof once again that I am one spacey person. I thought hard: where was the backup?
It was still in my garage, in a trash can scheduled to go out to the garbage truck next morning. I recovered the backup. It’s now in my neighbor’s home, where it belongs.