Computer & PC Help


I want to relay an incident that happened to me this week; the moral of this story is know your IT professional, trust your IT professional and lastly and most importantly, LISTEN to what they tell you especially when it comes to purchases.

I take care of many different clients in many different situations.  This particular client is a business client that I take care of – a few weeks ago the client told me that when the power goes out, the server shuts down.  I immediately said you need to purchase a battery backup – let me know and I’ll come by and install it.  I left it at that.  Now in all honestly, I probably should have been more aggressive in making sure this client did just that but I can’t really do that because I do have a lot going on so I do rely on my clients to do what I ask, especially when it comes to purchases.   Now also please note that I did not tell them I’d buy it because when it comes to ordering little things like that I feel that the client can take that responsibility.  Either the client will order it on line after I tell them what to buy, or just go pick it up at a local store.

I’ve said time and time again, a $50.00 battery can say you thousands of dollars!  Well, I’m sure by now you know where this is going so here’s what happened.  We had a bad storm here one day.  It was thunder, lighting, and much rain.  About 2 pm my phone rings and it was this particular client,  I answered the phone and this voice that sounded a bit panicked told me that there was a flashing amber light on the server and they couldn’t get a picture on the machine.  I asked what happened and they told me that the power blinked and the server rebooted and never came back.  I immediately when into concerned mode but thought maybe there was an issue with the monitor, so I asked questions, trying to troubleshoot on the phone and then I finally told them to change the monitor.  Nothing worked.  I told them to unplug the server press and hold the power button then to plug in back in and try to turn it on.  That didn’t work either.  I told this client I’d be there as soon as I can.  In the meantime, I asked the client to see if they had a backup of their information.  This particular client uses one company for on-line backups – which I’m not a fan of but this client insisted on this service.  I prefer the old fashioned way either tape backup or some type of external drive either in place of an on line company or in addition to an on line company.  This client called the on-line backup company and they did not have the information they needed backed up.  So now this situation is critical – this company (my client) is out of business without that information.

I arrived on site shortly after that.  I looked at this server and tried a few things and nothing worked.  I concluded that the server took a hit and the mother board was fried. Meaning in English the server isn’t coming back up.  Of course the server was out of warranty so I the manufacturer wouldn’t even let me extend the warranty.   So now I’m thinking I hope the disks are ok. I the middle of this craziness, the client informs me that she’s calling someone else because two heads are better than one and maybe the two of us can come up with something.  I’m thinking wow you don’t trust me…  So now I’m pulling out the drives and trying to explain to the client that they need to be prepared, they have no backups and they may have lost all the data if the disks are fried too. That I need to verify the integrity of these disks before I can say anymore.    The client explains to me that this guy is also a network guy and he can help and that he’s bring something to attach to the drive so we can read them.  I’m thinking ok. So in walks this guy he has an external drive reader. I quickly attach this to one of the machines to read the drives.  There were two drives – they were mirrored.  I look at the 1st drive I get in and then it dies!  I can’t read it.  This guy chimes in and say let me try.  He takes the drive and says “sometimes when you shake them you can read them” I’m thinking not a good idea you’re going to make it worse.  Well about 20 minutes later this guy is switching back and forth between the drives to try and read them – nothings working he states these drives are dead you are going to need to take them to a company to get your data off.  Now I’m thinking can’t be – I tell the client please just give me time and let me take the drives and look at them, I have tools.  The client is freaking at this point and screaming because they want this immediately.  I’m trying to explain that this is not an immediate fix and I can’t possibly get a server in here before Monday – this was Thursday.  The client didn’t understand that you just can’t buy a server ready to go off the shelf. I’m trying to explain that this isn’t an easy solution and that I need some time to assess the drives.  The other tech is insisting that the drives are dead – he’s still shaking them and getting no where.  Again I’m pleading with the client please just give me time.  Let me look at the drives and I’ll call you tomorrow and let you know.  The client is insisting that that’s not good enough and in the morning she’s taking the drive to this guy’s friend who gets data off drives.  I’m like please just let me take the drive to work before you do that and let me see what I can do before you do that.  The client is still freaking – I take one drive and leave.

Next morning I take the drive with me – the client has the other drive.  About 8:00 the client calls me to tell me that she dropped off the drive to this place that the other tech told her to go to and she paid $300.00 for them to “push” her to the front and diagnose the drive to first decide if  they can retrieve the data.  I’m truly livid at this point because all I wanted was the chance to look at this before this client spent the money.  The client insisted I didn’t understand her situation – I tried to explain I was fully aware of her situation and that if we couldn’t get this data that they were going to have to start over and they may be out of business.  All I kept saying was please just give me a chance but if you feel more comfortable with the other tech taking the lead on this, I will bow out. The client wouldn’t listen.

So with this in mind I just could have let it go, the client dropped the drive off at the company to recover it from the drive – I realize they could do it but the cost was probably going to be somewhere in the neighborhood of $1500.00 – $2000.00 and the client still had to purchase a server too.

So I had the drive with me and I have something called a cradle which I slipped the drive into – I did it on a windows 7 machine, the client is still running XP.  And low and behold I was able to read the drive!  I quickly copied the information off and burned it to a CD.  I called the client – The client still didn’t believe me!  I kept saying I got into the drive and I copied what you needed.  Please come here and pick up the disk. The client came to me and asked how come I was able to do that and the other tech couldn’t.  My answer was I have better tools and I left it at that. She took the disk with the data.  Meanwhile for her $300.00 the company didn’t even call yet.  In just a few hours I was able to get the information back.  I didn’t know if the drives were fried – I thought that maybe windows XP just couldn’t read the drives or perhaps something was wrong with the equipment the other tech was using. I didn’t know. But I knew I at least had to try. The client did get the information back and was back up and running by that afternoon on a temporary PC. The client purchased an external drive for backups too and is going to purchase a battery backup for the new server.  We did order a server which should be there in about 10 days.

As a service profession I cannot and will not give you answers to something I don’t know the answers too myself.  I cannot raise your expectations without knowing what the outcome will be – that would be totally irresponsible of me. My client was desperately trying to get me to tell her that everything was going to be fine and that I was going to be able to fix the situation.  I can never tell you that I can get your data, repair your machine, etc. without knowing what the outcome will be. In this case I kept telling the client please just give me time – the client wouldn’t listen because she though I meant I wasn’t going to do anything before Monday.  I felt it necessary to prepare the client for the possibility of total disaster because that possibility did exist.  This client didn’t listen to my recommendations and there was nothing I could do about it.  They didn’t get the critical battery backup, they stopped doing the backups the way I had it set up because they couldn’t be bothered changing tapes and they took matters into their own hands. They jumped the gun and took the drive to a restoration company that didn’t even bother to get back to them!  So in all reality this client would still have been down if I didn’t do what I did!  I’m not suggesting that, taking the disk to such a company was a bad idea, they may have had to do that but this client should have let me do my job first which meant just waiting a little longer.

So moral of this story is if you think the person you hire to do your IT job is not trust worthy find someone who you trust. 

YOUR BUSINESS IS ONLY AS GOOD AS YOUR LAST BACKUP! Remember that rule for everything you do.  If your equipment dies it’s replaceable and it’s not an instant fix either but if you have a backup at least you KNOW you can restore it and you’re not out of business.  Lastly INVEST THE MONEY on the battery backup NOT a surge protector –  it will save your equipment from  taking a hit during a power surge or failure.  Equipment gets old and it WILL need to be replaced, better to do this on your terms and not as an emergency!

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