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Really Bad Day in the Field

 
 
smackedass
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      09-08-2007

The worst thing that has happened to me since I've been working as a private
tech/consultant has just happened to me. I lost what my customer claims is,
conservatively, 5000 email addresses.

He was diligent about backing up his My Documents folder. He uses Outlook
2003, but never backed up his email. Before I re-installed XP onto his
hard drive, I backed up Outlook.pst (which was last modified that day, right
before I picked his computer up) and Archive.pst. They were both located in
the same path/folder where they usually are. I don't remember if I searched
for all .pst files on the hard drive.

After the re-install, I imported Outlook.pst, and the emails came through,
but not the contact list. Needless to say, he's happy. I don't know what
I could have done differently. To be sure, this guy is kind of a nitwit, he
operates a successful business with one office in Florida, and one here on
the Cape, but none of his network is password protected. He thought (until
yesterday) that the best way to keep his data safe and private was to keep
it on his own computer. I wanted to discuss this with his office manager,
who works down in the FL office, to see if there were another .pst file on
one of the network drives, but he claims that she is too busy to talk to me.
I also offered to do a data recovery, at my own time and my own expense, on
the hard drive in question, but he says that it's too late. He was just
about to put out a huge marketing message via email, and now he has to
figure out Plan B.

He also uses another local PC technician that I would like to speak with,
but for some reason, he does not want me to speak with him.

Certainly I don't take things like this lightly. I'm giving him a full
refund, and am assuring him that I will do whatever it takes to make matters
as right as possible. But he just has written the matter off, and is
insistent that somehow I dropped the ball, and thinks that further
cooperation will only be a waste of his time.

How much sleep would you lose over this? What could I have done
differently, and should I offer to do anything else? To what extent do you
folks analyze the integrity of user data while doing a routine job?

Thanks,

smackedass

 
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John P. Dearing
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      09-09-2007
smackedass wrote:
>
> The worst thing that has happened to me since I've been working as a
> private tech/consultant has just happened to me. I lost what my
> customer claims is, conservatively, 5000 email addresses.


I just looked at KB287070 in the Microsoft Knowledge Base and am quoting
a portion here:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/287070

How to back up Personal Address Books

Although contact information can be kept either in an Exchange Server
mailbox or in a .pst file, and is accessed through the Outlook Address
Book, the Personal Address Book creates a file that is stored on your
hard disk drive. To make sure that this address book is backed up, you
must include any files with the .pab extension in your backup process.

Use the following steps to locate your Personal Address Book file:
1. If you are running Microsoft Windows 95 or Microsoft Windows 98:
Click Start, point to Find, and then click Files or Folders.

If you are running Microsoft Windows 2000 or Microsoft Windows
Millennium Edition (Me): Click Start, point to Search, and then click
For Files or Folders.
2. Type *.pab, click My Computer in the Look In box, and then click Find
Now.
Note the location of the .pab file, and include it in your backup.

If you need to restore this address book either to the same computer or
a different computer, use the following steps:
1. Close any message-related programs such as Outlook, Microsoft
Exchange, or Windows Messaging.
2. Click Start, point to Settings, and then click Control Panel.
3. Double-click the Mail icon.
4. Click the Show Profiles button.
5. Click the appropriate profile, and then click Properties
6. Click the Email Accounts button.
7. Click Add a New Directory or Address Book, and then click Next
8. Click Additional Address Books, and then click Next.
9. Click Personal Address Book, and then click Next.
10. Type the path and the name of the Personal Address Book file that
you want to restore, click Apply, and then click OK.
11. Click Close, and click then OK.

END OF QUOTE

You did the right thing by backing up the .PST file. Unfortunately the
Personal Address Book is sored separately when not using Exchange.

I guess you'll just have to chalk this one up to experience and move on.

We all learn every day. All of us......

John
--
John Dearing
A+, Network+, Server+
To Reply, just drop "yourpants" from my address!
 
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Mister
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      09-09-2007
On Sat, 08 Sep 2007 15:39:46 GMT, "smackedass"
<(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:

>
>The worst thing that has happened to me since I've been working as a private
>tech/consultant has just happened to me. I lost what my customer claims is,
>conservatively, 5000 email addresses.
>


Taken from:
http://www.slipstick.com/contacts/olconpab.htm

The Personal Address Book (PAB) is a service available in Outlook 97
and 2002 and in Outlook 98 or 2000 running in Corporate/Workgroup
mode. (If you're using Outlook 98 or 2000 in Internet Mail Only, this
discussion does not apply to you.) In Outlook 97 and 98 (CW mode), it
was the only way to have distribution lists. However, in Outlook 2000
and 2002, the PAB is essentially obsolete. There isn't anything you
can do in the PAB that you can't do in an Outlook contacts folder, so
Outlook will offer to import your PAB for you, so that you don't have
the confusion of two different places to store addresses. >END<

There is one thing you may want to check in Outlook. Open the address
book by clicking on the Address Book icon at the top of Outlook. Look
at the drop down menu on the right side and see if it says Outlook
Address Book or Contacts. You want this to be set on Contacts. I had
where there were two Contact entries in this drop down menu. One
contained nothing and the other contained all of the addresses.

But to put your mind at ease, the .pst files for Outlook 2003 without
using Exchange, is the only file I ever backed up and it contained all
emails, contact information and calendar details. I think the setting
I mentioned above might be set wrong or the guy is blowing smoke up
your ***.

Lately, what I've been doing is using Acronis True Image 10 which
creates an image of the customers entire hard drive to an external
hard drive (invest in a 500GB External HD). And then I do the normal
backup of their files to be transferred back to their hard drive after
the operating system has been reloaded. I give the customer 1 week to
make sure all of their backed up files have been transferred back to
their satisfaction. If anything is missing, or they "claim" anything
is missing, you can go back to the image and have a look. At which
point, if something was missed, those files can be restored. It's an
insurance policy not only for me (mainly for me), but also for the
customer.

I just find it odd that this guy was going to email 5000 people as
soon as he got his computer back and now it is too late to send those
emails a day or two later. And he doesn't want you to contact the
other PC service person he used and the office in Florida is too busy
to help. Sounds shady. Check the setting I mentioned, if he lets
you, but don't lose any sleep over it.

At this point I would usually mention I am going to have another JD
and Coke, but I'm too tired for one!

 
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smackedass
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      09-09-2007



> I just looked at KB287070 in the Microsoft Knowledge Base and am quoting a
> portion here:




John,

This kb article applies to Windows ME and 2000. Which is not to say that it
does NOT apply to XP HE SP2, but now we're (once again) in the Land of Who
****ing Knows.

Actually, late last night, I was able to export some of the email addresses
from this guy's .pst file. It was so late, I was so tired, I don't even
remember how I did it. But I did get a few hundred, I believe that he was
exaggerating when he said 5000, and I burned a disk with a .csv file and a
..pst file of what I found. I dropped the disk off, along with a brief note,
on his doorstep. How much can ya do for a person?

Am still interested in hearing replies to my original post.

The operative question:

-To what lengths do you go to to verify that a client's data is complete?
Do you take their word for what they tell you? Do you make them sign a
disclaimer? Do you actually open each and every file to make sure that
they're "readable"? When there is a network drive in the picture, do you
make them pay extra?

How much liquor and how many ice cubes and how much tonic water is in the
glass when you receive the news that data is missing

sa





 
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smackedass
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      09-09-2007


DEAR Mister,

Thank you for providing intellectual relief.

THANK YOU for mentioning the Address Book vs. Contact List thing. I don't
know in which order it happened, but between 1) somehow extracting the
addresses from the .pst file, as I mentioned in a previous re-post, it was
too late and I was too tired to remember, and 2) your suggestion to look for
the Address Book in "Tools", I feel confident that I've got all of this
guy's stuff. By now, to me, he's not trustworthy, and I can't accept his
word for anything, but even if I wind up giving him his $ back, I am now
confident in knowing that I've done all that I could accomplish, and in good
will. Lay ye not thy pearls at the feet of swine.

Thank you, for all who have responded.

smackedass


--
Kema Computer Consulting
Kenneth E. Newton, Proprietor
P.O. Box 791
Harwich Port, MA 02646
http://www.velocityreviews.com/forums/(E-Mail Removed)

 
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Mister
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Posts: n/a
 
      09-10-2007
Well now... I can answer your last question.

Working on computers sober is no longer a challenge, so working on
them half lit is much more exciting and challenging.

3/4 Jack Daniels and 1/4 Coke with 3 ice cubes. Drink 3 of these from
a 16 oz. glass and you will be good to go.


On Sun, 09 Sep 2007 23:35:57 GMT, "smackedass"
<(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:

>
>
>
>> I just looked at KB287070 in the Microsoft Knowledge Base and am quoting a
>> portion here:

>
>
>
>John,
>
>This kb article applies to Windows ME and 2000. Which is not to say that it
>does NOT apply to XP HE SP2, but now we're (once again) in the Land of Who
>****ing Knows.
>
>Actually, late last night, I was able to export some of the email addresses
>from this guy's .pst file. It was so late, I was so tired, I don't even
>remember how I did it. But I did get a few hundred, I believe that he was
>exaggerating when he said 5000, and I burned a disk with a .csv file and a
>.pst file of what I found. I dropped the disk off, along with a brief note,
>on his doorstep. How much can ya do for a person?
>
>Am still interested in hearing replies to my original post.
>
>The operative question:
>
>-To what lengths do you go to to verify that a client's data is complete?
>Do you take their word for what they tell you? Do you make them sign a
>disclaimer? Do you actually open each and every file to make sure that
>they're "readable"? When there is a network drive in the picture, do you
>make them pay extra?
>
>How much liquor and how many ice cubes and how much tonic water is in the
>glass when you receive the news that data is missing
>
>sa
>
>
>
>


 
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Bill Eitner
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Posts: n/a
 
      09-10-2007
> Am still interested in hearing replies to my original post.

I like the idea of imaging the drive in whatever
state it's in beforehand. I also like the idea
of taking a stand as to whether or not data loss
is on you beforehand. I'm not in the business
(yet) and have only done a limited number of paid
side jobs. Maybe I'm naive, but I've always made
it clear that data loss is not my responsibility.
Basic (A+ or low level) hardware and software
problems can result in data loss. Furthermore,
responsible users keep valuable data backed up.

Maybe I'm off base in that in reality to get work
we have to promise the moon and the stars, I don't
know. My understanding is that getting a machine
going is one thing, and data integrity/recovery is
another. Am I wrong? When a machine is so bad off
that it needs the operating system reinstalled, what
are we supposed to promise the customer when it
comes to data integrity? With me it's always been:
I'll do the best I can to not unnecessarily erase
anything while reinstalling the operating system, but
that's it. Beyond that it's a data recovery job to
begin with.
 
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Mister
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      09-10-2007
Some people do not want to pay $30, $60 or even $90 to get their
computer working again, so they will make accusations to swindle the
tech out of payment.

I had some real nut jobs in past years. One lady would call me all
hours of the night crying and ranting that her computer does not work.
When I would go to look at it, there was nothing wrong with it. Thank
goodness for caller ID. She finally stopped calling after a year.
Then, you have the person that has a 15 year old computer and wants to
know why it does not go as fast as the new ones in the store. And if
it is possible to upgrade that computer to make it go as fast as those
new ones. I usually tell them $400 will do the trick, eMachine, Best
Buy.

I always looked at it like this:
Once the computer is in my hands, I am responsible for it and it's
data to a certain degree. It's the same as if you handed your car
over to a garage for repairs. You don't expect it to come back with
the interior missing. Some things will happen, favorites might be
missing or that icon is no longer on the desktop. The same as if you
pick your car up and the programmed stations on your radio have been
reset.


On Mon, 10 Sep 2007 04:16:12 GMT, Bill Eitner <(E-Mail Removed)>
wrote:

>> Am still interested in hearing replies to my original post.

>
> I like the idea of imaging the drive in whatever
> state it's in beforehand. I also like the idea
> of taking a stand as to whether or not data loss
> is on you beforehand. I'm not in the business
> (yet) and have only done a limited number of paid
> side jobs. Maybe I'm naive, but I've always made
> it clear that data loss is not my responsibility.
> Basic (A+ or low level) hardware and software
> problems can result in data loss. Furthermore,
> responsible users keep valuable data backed up.
>
> Maybe I'm off base in that in reality to get work
> we have to promise the moon and the stars, I don't
> know. My understanding is that getting a machine
> going is one thing, and data integrity/recovery is
> another. Am I wrong? When a machine is so bad off
> that it needs the operating system reinstalled, what
> are we supposed to promise the customer when it
> comes to data integrity? With me it's always been:
> I'll do the best I can to not unnecessarily erase
> anything while reinstalling the operating system, but
> that's it. Beyond that it's a data recovery job to
> begin with.


 
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John P. Dearing
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      09-10-2007
smackedass wrote:
>
>
>
>> I just looked at KB287070 in the Microsoft Knowledge Base and am
>> quoting a portion here:

>
>
>
> John,
>
> This kb article applies to Windows ME and 2000. Which is not to say
> that it does NOT apply to XP HE SP2, but now we're (once again) in the
> Land of Who ****ing Knows.


The article applies to Outlook 2002 & Outlook 2003. I don't see anything
in the article about applying to Windows ME or 2000 only. As a matter of
fact they don't specifically mention an Operating System at all.

>
> Actually, late last night, I was able to export some of the email
> addresses from this guy's .pst file. It was so late, I was so tired, I
> don't even remember how I did it. But I did get a few hundred, I
> believe that he was exaggerating when he said 5000, and I burned a disk
> with a .csv file and a .pst file of what I found. I dropped the disk
> off, along with a brief note, on his doorstep. How much can ya do for a
> person?


You've obviously gone above and beyond and are to be commended for that.

As others have mentioned, there are some clients that will look for any
excuse at all to get out from under a bill.

I also very much like the idea of a large (300-500GB) external drive and
using a drive imaging utility to move a copy of the data onto that
temporarily. You could also then burn *that* data onto a DVD as
additional insurance against calls a month or two later concerning
"missing data". Or you could just include that CD/DVD when you return
the computer, reminding the user to keep the disk handy in case of problems.

It's also always a good idea to be as upfront as possible with clients
concerning potential data loss.

Finally, I think your Subject line really just kinds sums it all up, you
had a really bad day. Clearly you didn't set out to have that kind of
day, nobody does. You just hit a really bumpy stretch of road that day.

Best of luck in the future!! You're gonna be fine!

John
--
John P. Dearing
A+, Network+, Server+
To reply: Just drop "YOURPANTS" in my address!
 
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Adam Leinss
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Posts: n/a
 
      09-10-2007
"smackedass" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in
news:6nzEi.66$eh3.16@trndny07:

>
> The worst thing that has happened to me since I've been working as
> a private tech/consultant has just happened to me. I lost what my
> customer claims is, conservatively, 5000 email addresses.
>
> He was diligent about backing up his My Documents folder. He uses
> Outlook 2003, but never backed up his email. Before I
> re-installed XP onto his hard drive, I backed up Outlook.pst
> (which was last modified that day, right before I picked his
> computer up) and Archive.pst. They were both located in the same
> path/folder where they usually are. I don't remember if I
> searched for all .pst files on the hard drive.


Contacts are kept in the PST itself, the only way he could be right is
if there was another PST file on his hard drive.

Always verify the locations of PST files in his mail profile before
proceeding.

Adam
--
Visit my PC Tech blog at www.leinss.com/blog
 
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