Really Bad Day in the Field

Discussion in 'A+ Certification' started by smackedass, Sep 8, 2007.

  1. smackedass

    smackedass Guest

    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?


    smackedass, Sep 8, 2007
    1. Advertisements

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

    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
    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.


    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 P. Dearing, Sep 9, 2007
    1. Advertisements

  3. smackedass

    Mister Guest

    Taken from:

    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

    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!
    Mister, Sep 9, 2007
  4. smackedass

    smackedass Guest

    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.


    Kema Computer Consulting
    Kenneth E. Newton, Proprietor
    P.O. Box 791
    Harwich Port, MA 02646
    smackedass, Sep 10, 2007
  5. smackedass

    Bill Eitner Guest

    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.
    Bill Eitner, Sep 10, 2007
  6. smackedass

    Mister Guest

    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

    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
    Mister, Sep 10, 2007
  7. smackedass

    Adam Leinss Guest

    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 Leinss, Sep 10, 2007
  8. smackedass

    smackedass Guest

    Actually, it does mention '95, '98, 2000 and ME, but does not mention XP.


    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
    2. Type *.pab, click My Computer in the Look In box, and then click Find


    And given the fact that the folder structures within different operating
    systems are slightly different, it certainly is possible that XP
    manages.pst, .wab, and .pab files differently.

    And, just for shits and giggles, I just went down in the dungeon and, on a
    recently refurbished XP HE SP2 box, opened Outlook for the very first time,
    and added two contacts. I then closed Outlook, and searched for *.pab
    files--none. I searched for *.wab files (just in case)--none. Then I
    searched for *.pst files and found one, right where I expected it.

    So, as far as I'm concerned, the jury is still out.

    smackedass, Sep 11, 2007
  9. smackedass

    Adam Leinss Guest

    Right. The Contacts folder and PAB are mutually exclusive. PABs are
    left overs from Outlook 98. In fact, if you upgrade Outlook to Outlook
    XP or newer, it will ask you if you want to import your PAB into the
    Contacts folder.

    If he's using Outlook 2003, he's likely not using a PAB. PABs, as far
    as I know, can't be synced to mobile devices, etc. It is, however,
    possible that you can have your Contacts folder pointing to another PST
    file outside of your main one.

    All of this sounds fishy anyways, because no sane ISP will allow you to
    e-mail 5000 people at once (usually not even > 50 people at once). If
    he's e-mailing that many people, then he should be using a mail list
    service and not his PC.

    Adam Leinss, Sep 12, 2007
  10. smackedass

    Mister Guest

    I was just about to ask what the advantage was of keeping a .pab over
    storing them in a .pst and I found out there really isn't any, unless
    you want to separate business contacts from personal contacts, etc.
    Read to the end and you will find that the .pab file is no longer used
    in Outlook 2007.

    Taken from:

    Personal Address Books

    Outlook also supports Personal Address Books (PAB). Like Contacts, a
    Personal Address Book can store a contact's name, address, e-mail
    address, phone, and other information. Outlook stores the Personal
    Address Book in a file with a PAB file extension. The PAB is
    completely separate from your other Outlook data stored in your PST
    file (or in an Exchange Server store). You can add more than one PAB
    to an Outlook profile.

    So why include Personal Address Books in Outlook? The Personal Address
    Book is a holdover from earlier versions of Outlook. A Personal
    Address Book does not support Unicode characters, which are an
    expanded set of characters that includes many more symbols and
    language-specific characters than the original ASCII set of
    characters. (The Contacts folder does support Unicode in Outlook
    2003.) However, an entry in a Personal Address Book doesn't offer the
    same breadth of information about the contact as an entry in Contacts.
    So, Contacts in general is often a much better place to store

    Why use a Personal Address Book? One situation is when you want to
    completely separate your personal contacts from your business contacts
    (which you would store in Contacts). A better alternative is to create
    a separate Contacts folder just for your personal contacts. To create
    a new Contacts folder, open the existing Contacts folder. On the File
    menu, point to New, and click Folder. Enter a name (use Personal
    Contacts in this example) in the Name box and click OK. You should now
    see a new folder named Personal Contacts under Contacts.

    Bottom line: A second Contacts folder is usually a better choice than
    a Personal Address Book. However, you can use a PAB to keep your
    personal addresses completely separate from your other Outlook data,
    if needed. >END<

    And for all those Outlook 2007, which includes myself, a quote from
    Microsoft TechNet site:

    Office Outlook 2007 does not support .pab files. During configuration,
    all contacts in the Personal Address Book are migrated to the default
    Outlook Contacts folder.
    Reason for change: Outlook Contacts provides more functionality than
    ..pab files. >END<
    Mister, Sep 12, 2007
  11. smackedass

    brill80917 Guest


    I just wanted to say I love your posts man! All of them. I learn more
    from your posts and the responses to them than 100 sundry posts in
    this quite lovely newsgroup. I think it's your honesty and writing
    ability that makes them jump out at me. Keep 'em coming dude!

    Bob Smith A+/former CCNA (3 year cert those bastards!)
    brill80917, Sep 23, 2007
  12. smackedass

    smackedass Guest

    Thank you Bob. There will be a "revisit" post to augment this one, which
    will include follow-up and un-included case facts.

    If there's one thing that I'd LOVE to convey in this NG, is that, while, for
    the people who are studying for the A+ (or any other IT exam) use this forum
    for study and exam info, that's hardly the end of the road. Every once in a
    while, somebody posts something like, "I wish that we'd stick to the test
    stuff", and to them I'd say, the test will soon be over, and the real
    challenges about to begin.

    And enough of my penny-ante pontificating...

    smackedass, Sep 23, 2007
  13. smackedass

    Patty Guest

    I have found that all the studying and test taking is not as good a teacher
    as is experience. Smackedass, all your experiences are very educational
    for those of us who have not started working in the field yet. Keep your
    experiences coming.


    A+ 2006
    Patty, Sep 24, 2007
  14. As someone else just starting out, I also like hearing your experiences.
    The incident you relate in this thread reminds me of a couple of months
    ago when a client's hard drive on her old Compaq died. I managed to
    recover the data from her old system and transfer it to the new system
    she bought, a Compag running Vista (I couldn't persuade her to get a
    custom-built system). Lo and behold, not only did she hate Vista's
    "black" GUI, but her old MS-Works files wouldn't open because the OEM
    version of Works 2007 that comes with new Compaq/Vista machines are
    missing the component to import from old versions of Works. The client
    insisted on a partial refund on the grounds that, in her view, I should
    have known this issue would arise, even though it's exactly the sort of
    thing a systems tech (unless they know a lot about Windows OEM versions,
    specifically Works) could not possibly have forseen.

    The moral is that there will always be clients who will be determined to
    find a reason to blame the tech, if things don't go entirely according
    to their expectations, and won't want to let you rectify the situation
    even if it's in your power to do so. Those aren't the sort of clients
    you want to work with in future anyway.

    Dave Hardenbrook, Oct 3, 2007
  15. smackedass

    Tony Guest

    You did not say why you had to wipe out the drive and re-install XP.

    True, you could do an Outlook backup and include all folders and subfolders but the latest pst in
    the hidden folder (docs and settings\usre\app date\etc) should contain that very same info since
    that is where Outlook is getting it from (unless someone moved the file). If you saved the latest
    Outlook.pst, which was modified that day, why are the contacts missing? Something's fishy.

    ANyway, I would not have given him a full refund. You performed a service and you recovered all of
    his email messages and archives. How do you know he really had the contacts there? If his attitude
    is how you described it, then I would be glad to get rid of him.

    In the future, have a spare drvie and clone the original. Then do what you want to the repair
    computer. Or, sometimes I install XP on the new drive along with all of the drivers and apps, then,
    bring the data back in. When it all is perfect, I Ghost that to the original drive. This way I know
    that I am retrieving data from the original drive and all should be there.

    If you need to keep him, I would clone his current drive to a new one. Take his and do a search for
    deleted files (using something like Get Back Data) and only look for PST. When you find them, use
    Outlook to import them in one at a time and maybe you will find the pot o gold. He probably wont go
    for it. He sounds like he already made up his mind not to use you anymore, probably at the bad
    mouthing of the next technician who is probably asking him what kind of computer guy was he using?

    I say, let him go and glad. Good luck.

    Tony, Oct 19, 2007
  16. smackedass

    smackedass Guest

    He had entirely too many bad things going on; spyware that wouldn't leave
    (granted, he had no idea how to get rid of it), error messages that kept
    re-appearing, and, not the least, an expired version of Norton Anti-Virus.
    Even after I did the routine cleanup/spyware removal, etc.
    I have been meaning to follow up on my original post; forgive me I haven't.
    But, suffice to say, I HAVE been able to recover approx. 285 email addresses
    from his .pst folder. Long story short, when I brought him back his
    newly-reformatted re-installed HD, he couldn't find his version of Office
    2003, which he had been using. But he DID find an Office 2000 disk, from
    which we did instll Office; Outlook apparently did not read the .pst file
    correctly, and I believe that this caused the problem. Anyway, since then,
    like I said, I was able to find about 285 email addresses, (through Outlook
    2003) which I may now import into his address book. But the guy is
    difficult to read, and in addition, told me that his contact list contained
    "five thousand, conservatively, email addresses", which I am reluctant to
    believe. So now, the issue isn't only if I was able to recover 6 or 7 email
    addresses, but whether it was 285 or 5000. Wish me luck.
    This boils down to matters of faith. Personally, I don't believe that he
    had 5000 email addresses. If I was able to locate 285 in one fell swoop,
    beyond the first 6 that I found, I don't imagine that he has 4,715 stashed
    in some obscurely located .pab file. This is what I'm up against now.
    That's all good and fine, but it's not really in my economic scheme, or
    logistical scheme, to obtain and maintain all of these hard drives, when I'm
    charging $65 per hour. My situation to deal with, I guess.
    I believe it's also a .pab that I may be looking for, also, according to
    advice from some of the previous posts. I know about Get Back Data, have
    used it, am an advocate of it, but I don't think it would satisfy him.

    When you find them, use
    That's another thing. I asked him to give me the phone# of his usual (guy
    was out of town or something) tech, and he told me, "his number is in my
    bag, which is in my car, which is out of town" or some such shit. Doing
    research the next day, the guy's contact info (he is also his Web Master)
    was RIGHT ON HIS OWN WEB SITE. So then I was thinking, why doesn't he want
    me to talk to him?
    Yeah, I guess, only we're co-members of a networking group. I have to
    afford a little bit of expedience that I normally would not, with any other
    pain in the ass client.

    Thanks for the response.

    smackedass, Oct 24, 2007
  17. smackedass

    Tony Guest

    In the future, have a spare drvie and clone the original. Then do what you
    I didnt mean to store everyone's hard drive somewhere. I meant to have one hard drive and before you
    start wiping and re-installing, ghost it. After you wipe, install and bring the data back in, let
    the customer use it for a day or so to see if anything is missing. I do this occasionally and no one
    ever told me that something was missing. However, if it was, you would have the ghosted drive to
    search for the missing files. Once all is good, wipe your drive and use it for the next guy. I did
    it twice today and it went fine.

    BTW, $65/hr is too cheap. I do $100/hr for businesses and $85/hr for end users. And I still get
    yelled at by my peers that I charge too little! Good luck with this guy.

    Tony, Oct 24, 2007
  18. smackedass

    Patty Guest

    He just sounds like my boss who is so clueless about everything, his
    response doesn't even surprise me.

    Patty, Oct 24, 2007
    1. Advertisements

Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments (here). After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.