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Dearest Datto - A Love Letter to a Backup Product

Dearest datto,

Please forgive me for starting off this letter to you without the beautiful language that you so richly deserve. Please understand that I write this way only so that you can be sure of the dark place from which I have come… the cold, dusty, basement datacenter from which you have saved me…

I… hate backups.

Actually, “hate” is not strong enough word. I’m frankly not sure if there is a word in the English language that is packed with enough loathing, venom and anguish to come even close to describing how I have felt about backups.

Until you came along, dearest datto, and suddenly… everything has changed.

I’ve had more than my share of self-destructive relationships over the years. A rack of servers going off-line because someone plugged both PDUs into a three dollar surge protector under the floor. The full-sized desktop power supply that someone “MacGyvered” into the 1U server that was running the entire company. The week our datacenter, full of ten-year-old and non-warrantied hardware, lost all power. Twice. Ever slept on the dirty floor of your office for three days? I have.

So many bad relationships. All of them horrifying. And they all pale in comparison to every relationship I have had with every backup product I have ever known… before you.

“The Exchange server is down, and was last seen with flames coming out of it?”  “The CEO lost his critical presentation that he just created this morning?”  “The company was hit by a ransomware virus?” “They want the file from when?” These were once the opening lines to the coming of the apocalypse. The blood runs cold. The datacenter darkens and begins to spin. Despite a trillion BTUs of cooling, I break into a raging sweat, while questions of whether or not I have my resume up to date jump up from their seats and start line dancing on my skull.

Until you came along, dearest datto, and… suddenly… everything was brighter.

A lifetime of flipping tapes. A lifetime of seventy-thousand-line-long log files, and cryptic emails with indecipherable status reports. A lifetime of “Well, it says the job was successful… whatever the hell that means”. A lifetime of shuffling boxes of cartridges to and from secure offsite facilities. A lifetime of setting up huge and complicated “labs” to test restores, and endless frustration using them. A lifetime of passing up well-paid positions- with short commutes- because the room started spinning when the hiring manager uttered the words “Backup Exec”.

Until you came along, dearest datto, and… suddenly… everything was easier.

I think back on the times when I had to fight with three, or even four, different vendors over backup problems. More bad relationships, filled with finger-pointing and blame. The backup vendor blames the tape library. The library manufacturer blames the server. The server vendor blames the SCSI card. The SCSI card manufacturer thinks they’re all insane. And the offsite storage vendor just points to the data that isn’t making it across the wire, shrugs, and walks away. It’s like a merry-go-round in a pit of angry demons, each poking you with a sharper stick.

Until you came along, dearest datto… and chased them all away.

In the blink of an eye, you have changed me, dearest datto. You’ve made me a better person. Once I was a bitter and grouchy administrator who sat in dark corners at company parties, lashing out at anyone who dared ask to have even a single file restored. Now I hear talk that the twelve-year old critical application server finally and totally died… I smile, take a sip of my beer, and say “No problem, man! I have the backup from fifteen minutes ago. I’ll have ‘er back up in five.” Once the crazed weather-watcher who went into fits of panic with each and every tornado warning, now I stare into the green swirling vortex of death, toast the angry skies with my delicious beverage, and grin.

Bring it on, Mamma Nature.

Bring. It. On.

I could go on and on, my dearest datto, but really it boils down to this: You’ve made me love backups and business continuity, dearest datto. You’ve made me love you.

Thank you, dearest datto, for coming into my life. Thank you for being mine.

Yours truly, and forever,

Chris Russo

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