"the discovery that a backup was not all you hoped it might be"
Oh my, that brings back memories. I was working as a consultant in a major insurance company, on an on-call basis.
One day, I get called to go modify something in the mail template that defines what every mailbox is supposed to look like and what features it is supposed to have. So I pack my laptop and off I go. When I'm settled at my desk and after the meeting with the IT manager, with all the technical details I need in mind, I log into my local account and ask the system to start up the Designer on the mail template.
The Designer was a no show.
Not that the Designer had a problem, it was the template that was not accessible. It's design had been locked.
After a brief but intense moment of WTF! and deep soul-searching, I reassured myself that I would never have been stupid enough to lock the design of the most important template the customer had, so I went back to the IT manager and reported the problem. His matter-of-fact reply was simple : get the backup copy.
Like every responsible IT shop in any major company, backups were made incremental every day, full every week-end and end-of-month. So finding a good backup should be simple, right ?
Well, in a word, no. I basically spent a day with the systems team, going back every further in time to try and find a copy that hadn't been locked. When we had gone over the two months of backup that were stored locally, my new friend turned to me and said "Okay, this is all I've got here. Do you want me to go to the archives and fish out the storage tapes of the previous months ?". I could clearly see that that was not a prospect that he particularly relished, and I had already spent too much time on this issue, so I declined with thanks and left him relieved to be able to finally take care of his normal duties.
But I still had a problem : I had a template to rebuild. Or find a copy of, somewhere.
I will spare you the details, but let me just say that I finally did find a valid copy of the template on a server which, ironically, it never should have been put. I was able to make the requested changes, copy the unlocked template to production servers, and keep a local copy in my local profile - just in case someone else got the same stupid idea.
And that's how a 30-minute job was invoiced 10 hours and paid in full without any discussion.
Nobody ever told me who had locked the design.