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Backup tech felt the need – the need for speed. And pastries and Tomb Raider

Ignoring the manual led to near-failure of mission to escape with precious pile of verified DVDs

Who, Me? Wait, what? Is it that time again? Time for Who, Me? in which we invite readers to share stories of the less-brilliant moments of their workplace lives, and how they were caught out – or narrowly escaped.

This week we hear once again from a past contributor we Regomized as "Guillermo" when he told us about a lesson he'd learned regarding the wisdom of locking doors.

Guillermo, it seems, is still out there learning lessons. Education is a life-long pursuit, Guillermo – you just keep right on going. You're an inspiration.

Well, sort of.

In this tale, Guillermo was working for a plastic extrusion company and was handed the awesome responsibility of doing the weekly backup. This involved "a really thick and unnecessarily complex 80-page long manual, a couple of caddy-only DVD burners and four 100-disc cakes of Memorex 4x DVD-RAMs." As well, of course as three disc caddies.

Remember disc caddies? Ah, good times, good times.

Anyway, the first time through Guillermo did the backup with the boss watching like a hawk. He followed the manual "to the dot" – formatting each disc, writing each disc, verifying each disc, removing each disc and labelling each disc before repeating the process. All up it took ten discs and several hours.

Well, as you can imagine a go-getter like Guillermo didn't like wasting hours doing backups when he could be "eating pastries and drinking coffee" (his words, we swear).

So Guillermo found some ways to reduce the time. A month later, he was doing the backup on his own, unsupervised, and put his corner-cutting plan into action. Manual? What manual?

For one, he pre-formatted the discs in another machine while the backup box was working on the first one. Then as soon as that disc was done, the next went in. As soon as the machine spat out one disc, in went the next. It was glorious.

It was, as Guillermo puts it, "the backup speed run"!

Guillermo's off-books backup routine was so speedy he saved enough time to industriously ... relax and play Tomb Raider on his PlayStation Portable (PSP).

And that pile of unlabelled discs that accumulated on the ground as Guillermo guided Lara Croft through her adventures?

He was pretty sure the backup manual mentioned those somewhere … he just needed to put each disc in a machine, check the index number, and label them.

Except that, at that very moment, a rattle on the doorknob indicated the arrival of the boss.

Quick as a flash, Guillermo collected up the DVDs in whatever order they had hit the floor, stacked them on a spindle, hid his PSP, and acted natural.

The boss congratulated him on executing his task so dutifully and sat at his own workstation. Guillermo finished the backup, thinking he could go back and label the blank discs after the boss left.

But the boss had other plans. As the machine announced the final disc had been burned, the boss announced that as he was heading to the general manager's office anyway, he'd drop off the backup.

OK, thought Guillermo, fingers crossed nothing happens that requires this specific backup to be used. Next week, he'd do the backup by the book and no-one would be any the wiser.

But the boss had other plans. The following week, he announced that he wanted to do the weekly backup himself. By the book. The book that says before you do the backup you verify the previous week's disks. Guillermo crossed his fingers really hard.

And then, salvation. The boss had to answer a phone call, and left Guillermo to do the backup himself.

Which he did. By the book. No more speed runs.

Have you ever had a narrow escape like Guillermo? Cut a corner and had to wish like crazy no-one would find out? Tell us about it in an email to Who, Me? and we'll (anonymously) elevate your exploits to the stuff of legend. ®

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