Are All IT Techs Created Equal?
Posted: 2011-04-02. Categories: Big Ticket

Today my husband shared a link on Facebook to an article posted on Web Host Industry Review that should send a chill up the spine of any business owner.

TV Show Creators Sue Host, Say Data Center Worker Deleted Data

According to a report appearing Thursday on PC World, the creators of a children’s TV show, “Zodiac Island” have sued ISP and hosting provider CyberLynk, claiming a recently-fired employee of the company deleted an entire season of their show.

The company that created the show, WeR1 World Network, reportedly sued CyberLink, as well as the former employee, Michael Jewson, for damages, claiming that CyberLynk didn’t do enough to protect the customer’s data.

Shawn responded with…

Ouch! Seriously? The TV show’s entire business model relied on a single backup copy and no off-line copies? Idiots! “The cloud” is a great concept, but it is NO REPLACEMENT for diligence and multiple backup copies.

Do you have important data? Offline OR online? Keep AT LEAST one copy offline in a fireproof safe. Don’t rely on anyone else to do it for you. Mistakes and catastrophes happen every single day.

 This entire situation could have been avoided with a $70 drive and an ounce of forethought.

It reminds me of a situation I experienced at Gateway ~15 years ago. A business owner came in with a computer that had a failing hard drive (Seagate sucks!). It was making very audible grating noises.

Even though it was making noises, Gateway policy was to perform a disk wipe to obtain a diagnostic code in order to perform a drive RPL.

The biz owner had been using the computer for two years to collect data for an FDA report, but had never actually created backups. I explained that the noises indicated the drive was failing, but in order to obtain an in-warranty replacement drive, it would have to be wiped, which means “all the contents, data, programs and documents will disappear.”

Are you sure you want to do this?

He said he needed to get it up and running again immediately, but wasn’t willing to spend the extra $130 for a second drive. He signed the consent form to wipe the drive.

I asked if he was SURE that anything important was backed up, and he said his secretary was supposed to be doing that. But are you SURE?

Yes, don’t worry about it.

7 hours later the computer was back up and running with a replacement drive. The old drive had been wiped. 2 years of his critical data was gone.

The next day he came in with his secretary and belittled her in front of the manager for failing to do backups. He very nearly attacked her physically. The manager sent the bad drive in for “data recovery” (the data was VERY gone!) at no charge. This, too, could have been avoided at several times throughout the process (and possibly avoided had they used a WD drive):  Backup what’s important to you!

Your Personal PC

Most computer users don’t know enough about their own computer.  Especially these days, when every Tom, Dick and Harry who know how to open a computer case is trying to get into the “computer repair” business.

We have  a lot of elderly clients who depend on Shawn to keep their computers up and running, mainly for communication with friends and relatives through email. He had upgraded a clients computer, only to return a few months later to remove a virus. He was surprised to find that a 2 gb stick of RAM was missing.

When he asked her about it, she said a friend had “worked” on her computer for her. That friend had not only helped himself to a good chunk of RAM ($130 worth), but he had charged her $150 for some supposed repair. She of course had no idea what had been wrong with her machine. It broke our heart that someone would take advantage of such a sweet person.

Even some businesses are getting in on the computer repair bandwagon. Staples sometimes offers free PC “Tune-ups” and one local business offers free virus removal services. The problem is that these companies hire and train many people and pay them little more than minimum wage, they don’t really understand computers. Each time you take your computer in to be serviced you get whoever is on duty.

We’ve had many emergency calls from clients who have tried to save a buck and ended up paying much more than they should have for pretty simple repairs. First to someone that made it worse, then again to “really” fix the problem – and the problems introduced by the first “repair” person.

How can you protect yourself and your equipment?

  1. Keep your PC Updated — If regular security updates are not made to your computer, you are more likely to be infected with malware or a computer virus. If you don’t know how to check for updates, learn.
  2. Make Regular Backups — Don’t wait until your hard drive fails to discover you’ve lost all your data. Data recovery can be very costly especially in terms of down-time and lost productivity. There are many types of backup systems, so talk to your computer professional and create a backup plan that makes sense for you, then stick with the plan.
  3. Find a Trustworthy Computer Technician — Don’t allow just anyone to work on your computer. Find one person, someone you trust, and then follow their advice. Having too many hands in your computer can cause more problems than it solves because everyone uses their machine differently, and many techs have their own style, process and opinions about different applications or configuration options – which results in conflicts that could cost you more in both time and money. Ask your friends and family for a referral to someone they trust.
  4. Contact your PC Tech — Before purchasing computers and/or accessories do your homework. Technology is one area where too many people make impulse buys, “Oh, that looks cool.” Only to be ripped off, by purchasing software and accessories that aren’t compatible with their system or doesn’t do what is really desired. All computer equipment is not created equal.
  5. Sign Up for Regular Updates — Never leave computer security to chance. Shawn provides notices of security and software updates. Protect your PC — Sign up at: or at the SaferPC Mailing List.
  6. Properly Store Software — You purchase a new computer, set it up, load the software and away you go. When something goes wrong, you can’t find the software or paperwork that came with your machine. It’s an all-too-familiar-scene. These are important documents that you need to protect and store where you can find them again. A good idea is to put your software and documentation in a ziplock bag, label it with the machine type, serial number, date of purchase, and operating system. Store it in a fireproof safe, a safety deposit box or other secure location.

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