The Digital Campfire: The Bismarck Plan


The Digital Campfire is a collection of stories about technology. The protagonists are (fictional) Brown students. The problems they face, however, are very real— a stolen phone, a hacked account, an accidentally deleted folder. How do our intrepid heroes deal with these digital hiccups? Read the column to find out. 

Max was scared. He had just clicked a few buttons on Joe’s laptop but the damage was colossal. He had managed to delete the entire ‘My Documents’ folder.

His brother’s entire digital life had been wiped out in seconds. All his pictures, his entire Pink Floyd music collection, his stories for Fiction I ( judiciously speaking—not that much of a loss really) and his beloved PCB designs.

I’m so dead, Max thought. His brother had specifically warned him to stay away from the laptop. Of course, Joe had barely left when Max had rushed to the laptop. He clicked the ‘Delete’ button by mistake. Such a big folder didn’t even pass through the interim ‘Recycle Bin’; it simply got erased. Bits and bytes rearranged themselves, returning to their original form. It was the digital equivalent of a blank page.

Soon enough, Joe re-entered his room. Max’s original plan of denial was discarded for a more natural reaction — he blurted it all out. Joe looked thoughtful. Secretly he was relieved — there was nothing broken. His files were gone, true, but he knew how to handle that. Max walked out of the room, relieved. That was close, he thought.

Meanwhile Joe was thinking of an article that he had read long ago.

A snippet from the article:

They say cats have nine lives. Human beings are less fortunate. They have only one. Most humans today have a digital avatar as well, though. A smart homo sapien makes sure his technological self has a thousand lives or at the very least two. Which all goes to say back up your data. It’s only a five-minute activity. The software handles most of the work. Don’t be lazy. Have a Plan B in place.

Software options:

  1. If you use Windows, download Cobian Backup  (Open Source till version 8.0)

  2. Mac fanboys/girls can try Time Drive or stick with the inbuilt Time Machine

  3. Linux enthusiasts can’t go wrong with Déjà Dup

After reading the article, Joe religiously plugged in his external hard drive and backed up his entire data every Sunday. His behavior reminded him irresistibly of his idol — Otto von Bismarck. The German Chancellor was not only gifted in the art of statesmanship but also known for his contingency planning. Known as the Bismarck Plan it soon came to be simply referred to as Plan B.

Since Joe followed this philosophy, he simply had to choose the correct date and click a ‘Restore’ button to retrieve his files. He had saved his data just yesterday, so not a single file was lost. Joe smiled at his own prescience.

It was Saturday night. Joe’s desktop showed the familiar ‘My Documents’ back in it’s rightful place. As Joe left the room he skipped his customary warning to Max about the laptop. Max had agreed to not go anywhere near it, considering it light punishment for his deed. Joe had restored his files with a Plan B and permanently warded his brother off from his laptop with skillful manipulation. Bismarck would have been proud.

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