We’re Barking Mad for Security


Guest post by Michael Shea, Manager, Records Center Services

Author: Michael Shea

So, your critical system goes down and your entire network is wiped out by an employee opening an attachment to answer a desperate plea from a foreign Prince, innocently seeking a onetime small investment to give said swift thinking and acting employee MILLIONS of dollars for their small token of generously donating a few hundred dollars to free up his massive American accounts.  Aside from blankly staring at your screen, or wondering if that knot in the pit of your stomach is grounds for taking sick leave for the rest of the day, what can you do to get that vital data back?

We offer storage and regular rotation for agencies using backup tapes or other portable back up devices in our fireproof vault.  Are we the only ones in the world who do this?  No.  However, I am quite sure we do it with the most unique added layer of “protection.”  Lurking in the back corner of our vault is our hidden gem of a protector: “The Dog of the Vault”.  Where did the Dog come from?  I believe there are books that would explain that to you, but for the sake of brevity, let’s go with the dog stork.

Here’s how the Dog of the Vault can work for you:  If there was a fire in the vault she would extinguish it with her prodigious drool. (Actually our vaults are fireproof and can withstand heat (outside of them) of 4000 degrees for up to four hours) keeping your magnetic tapes and other media safe. If an intruder breaks in to our secure facility, enters the combination to the vault door (which I know and still have trouble using to open the darned thing!), gets the key to the inner vault door, all while bypassing our motion detectors/alarm system, the Dog will unsheathe her gnarly bicuspids and carve them up, all while avoiding getting any messy blood spatter on the backup tapes.  Hey, she’s a trained protector and is good at her job.

What the Dog doesn’t do is to provide very efficient service on backup tapes and disaster recovery materials, that’s our job.   All of the materials in the vault are inventoried using a simple barcode with no other identifiers, so that if somehow someone was able to sneak past the Protecting Pooch (who has been known to enjoy a good single malt scotch on occasion) they’d have no idea how to find anything specific.  Agencies keep their own inventory of items, and we do not ever open a disaster recovery/back up tapes box or handle the tapes inside. We allow different sized boxes for our vault, ranging from shoebox size to something that looks like a huge rolling cart roadies use for concerts. Like the rest of our delivery services, we are just quicker, cheaper and more efficient than others.  If you’re in Austin and call in the morning needing a backup box, we can have it to you in the afternoon.  If you need it faster than that, we will “hot shot” rush it to you for an extra five bucks.

“The Destroyer” resting between shifts

The Dog also monitors humidity and temperature in the vault daily to make sure that the environment is conducive to both the preservation of your media as well as his comfort. She prefers a temperature under 70 degrees and a relative humidity of under 40%, which happens to coincide with the proper levels for microfilm and magnetic media.

Now, currently we service only Austin area agencies, but we can offer this serve to local government agencies that are not so local to our vault.  The USPS is still a good deal (as are UPS/Fed Ex) and we would be happy to store and rotate your materials.  There is only one slight drawback, we’ll still get it ready in the same amount of time as our local runs, we just have to rely on the other carriers to complete the last leg of the journey. The Dog doesn’t discriminate (She loves all of Texas through and through) and will guard your backup materials with the same enthusiasm she guards the local materials.

What if your system goes down at 1:00 AM and you have to have it up by the time the first employee rolls in at 7:00.  Well, we are on call 24/7 and will come out to the records center in the middle of the night to pull that box for you.  However, if you are not on your agency’s list of approved employees, I might just sick that rabid Dog loose on you for waking me from my much needed beauty sleep!

6 thoughts on “We’re Barking Mad for Security

  1. Mike, if you ever get tired of this job, you just might pursue a career in journalism, of the comic variety. I so enjoy your posts. KS

  2. GREAT tongue in cheek references on “The Dog”! “The Destroyer” is a cutie too. Labradors are the best dogs! Their one drawback is they are TOO smart for their own good. ;)

  3. “The Dog” works. I was always afraid I’d accidentally get locked in there and spend the night in the vault. It’d make a great temporary and secure storage area for visiting SXSW musicians who don’t have a safe place to leave their guitars, amplifiers and cable bags.

  4. “The Dog” works. I was always afraid I’d accidentally get locked in there and spend the night in the vault. It’d make a great temporary and secure storage area for visiting SXSW musicians who don’t have a safe place to leave their guitars, amplifiers and cable bags.

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