Obituary: SMB Backup Tape

Arriving via Commodore International in 1977, BT disappeared into the cloud in 2011. By James E. Gaskin

DEARLY BELOVED, we are gathered here today to say goodbye to the symbol of both good intentions and frustration: the SMB Backup Tape. At first BT, as he was known on the street, offered the promise of painless file recovery. “Back Up and Be Safe” said the poster he carried.

Later, good intentions became a thankless chore, especially for those ordered to carry BT off-site as an early disaster recovery system. BT sometimes chewed the tapes, maddeningly always at the very end of his backup job. Other times he somehow became invisible, so workers would go days or weeks without a backup thought or tape operation.

Yet BT came into his own as an aggravation agent extraordinaire when he was asked to restore files. Such a show he gave, whirring and spinning and reversing, over and over, until he pulled one of his two favorite stunts. Often, BT would crash during the restore process. And, when truly in a perverse mood, he would finish the job and proclaim the file recovered, yet four out of five times the computer refused to accept the garbled mess BT left.

He arrived via Commodore International in 1977, and disappeared into the cloud in 2011.

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