A happy ending… and a rant

As of last night, and due in no small measure to my friend Eric’s ability and willingness to help, all of our “personal images” from 2011 have been restored and successfully backed up using GoodSync… the program continues to impress me with it’s efficiency and simplicity.  Lord knows I need “simple”.  That’s the happy ending.  Now for the rant.

I know that there are a lot of small businesses out there that are run by hard working people who try their best to offer a service or product that people need or want. I recognize in these economic times that surviving as a small business is hard… very hard.  There are a lot of empty store fronts in the towns I’ve driven through lately. Unfortunately, there are companies that offer up a service but their very structure and lack of skills keeps them from being successful.  Case in point:  Data Retrieval (http://www.dataretrieval.com/).

I landed on this company as a possibility to retrieve data from a Western Digital drive that went south without warning.  I found their website via Google and compared them to others in the area.  I called and talked to a lady about my problem and she told me that I could bring the disk in for a free diagnostic.  She also told me that if the data could be saved it would probably run between $300 and $1000.  GULP.  I figured that the disk was dead and I might as well find out if anything could be saved and what it would cost.

I went to the address of Data Retrieval… an upscale business park at the south end of Highway 217.  I walked into the lobbly and went to the business directory looking for the company or directions to Suite 400.  Hmmmmm…. danger signal… no company name on the board…. several companies listed in Suite 400 but not Data Retrieval.  I took the elevator to the 4th floor and walked into a large lobby with a lady behind a desk.  I asked for Data Retrieval and she said “that’s me”.  Hmmmmm….. We had a short discussion and she showed disappointment that I did not bring in their form to give her along with the drive.  She wrote my info down… name, address, phone, email…. and gave me a sticky note with a guy’s name and phone and email address.   Hmmmm…. that was my receipt?  Yup.  Why I did not trust my gut and grab the drive and run I’ll never know.  Again, I figured the drive was dead and of no use so I was just exploring. She told me that the drive would probably go to Seattle for the diagnostic.  Probably?  Hmmmmm…. another signal.

A day later I got a call from Mark.. no last name.  Dianne and I were busy with an engagement shoot so called back later.  Mark tells me that the heads on the drive are bad and that it would cost $1450 to rebuild the drive to see if the data could be recovered.  No guarantee.  I tell him “that’s a lot of money”.  He tells me “we need $300 to proceed”.  I tell him (nicely)… “stop, do nothing, incur no cost, return the drive”.  He tells me that it will be returned for my pickup.

Unfortunately, I am headed out of town for several days.  I’m in the far reaches of eastern Oregon and I get a call from someone in Ohio wanting to talk about my cancellation.  He leaves a message for me since I did not have a signal at the time. The man has a heavy foreign accent and leaves his name (could not understand what it was) and an extension along with the 800 number to call.  I call when I get back to my room and dial in the extension as the answering tree of options starts to frustrate me.  I get a message from a man who does NOT have a heavy foreign accent.  I leave a message saying that I want my disk back and to not do anything to it.  In the course of the next 2 days I get 3 more calls from the company in Ohio but no more messages are left on my phone.

I call back one more time and talk to their support person.  She asks me for my case number and I explain that I never got one… got a sticky note instead.  My bad.  She looks me up using my last name… go figure.  Then she tells me that David has been trying to get ahold of me.  I ask where my disk is and she tells me that it is where I dropped it off. I ask to be transferred to the guy who has been calling and get another message from a man who has a different voice and no accent.  Again, I leave a message that I want my disk and to not do anything.

When I get home I head down to get my disk back.  There’s a new lady sitting behind the desk and I explain that I am there to pick up my disk.  She says “what is your case number?”  I say “never got one. Got a sticky note instead… see it?” as I hold it up.  She looks perplexed and looks me up under my name… go figure.  I should feel good that they actually could find me I guess.  Then she gets up and walks off.  I figured that she is going for the disk and I start rehearsing my parting comments.  After a bit she returns with a guy in full business clothes.  I introduce myself and explain my situation and wish to get my disk back.  He asks for my case number.  AWWWWW… come on!  After he looks at my record on the computer he walks off.  I hear drawers and cupboards opening and shutting in a back room.  He reappears but has no disk in his hands.  He rechecks the computer and disappears to another part of the building.  On return he still has no disk.  He sits at the computer and I think he is wondering how to make a disk to give to me.  I’m revising and rehearsing my parting comments in my mind.  Finally he opens a drawer below the computer terminal and sees an envelope with my name on it.  He asks my name and hands me the disk.  Then he shows me that they really did issue me a case number… wrote it on the envelope.  I look at him and explain that it would have been helpful if they had actually given me the number.

The disk is in my possession and I’ve accomplished what I came for.  No money exchanged hands… that’s good.  Now I get to actually deliver my parting comments.  You don’t really want to know but the gist of it included terms like “flaky”, “inept”, “unhelpful”, “confusing” along with some others.

My lessons are:  (1) trust my gut and when it says “RUN” I should run.  (2) if turning over personal property… even if it is broken and useless… get a receipt.  Yeah… I know better. And lastly (3) get a case number… it will just make life easier.

Thanks to friends and a significant amount of time spent retrieving the data from a different ‘bad” disk I/we now have our files back and fully backed up.  I’m right where I started about 2 weeks ago and I hope that the perfect storm of disk failure doesn’t do us under again.

My message to you is “BACKUP”… somehow, but do it.  I’ll leave you to your own judgement about calling Data Retieval to help you if you find yourself in a position where they may be a source of recovery.  Ask for David or Mark.  Good luck to all of us.

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2 thoughts on “A happy ending… and a rant

  1. I’m so glad you were able to retrieve all of your data Bruce! I know I would have been a lot more frazzled than you if a fraction of my files were at risk of being lost. A good reminder, hard drives are mechanical components that will fail, it’s just a matter of time. A well thought out back up plan is imperative for everyone!

  2. After a La Nina spring and summer, the fire call finally came. Of course they wanted my presence transported from Eugene to Parkdale with a 15 minute ETA, without offer of Leer transport. Arrived when I could to see a beautiful glow outlining the northern slopes of Mt. Hood. So. …been at fire camp for a few days, presumably the first few of several as we nurse a fire away from the nearby BullRun watershed and various historic sites, and private property, our efforts hampered by holes into which we dare not place human beings. A quiet time came and thusly I came to read the many of your several recent posts, Bruce. What a wild ride. I must say the shots from SE and Central Oregon were wonderful and a delightful interlude between the downright painful recounts of your experiences. My favorite has to be the dragonfly…Sally could probably identify the species if you don’t know already and are interested in knowing.

    I’d really like to hear more about just what this Good Sync (or whatever it’s called) backup is, things like cost, time, etc. If you get the chance, please send me an email, so at least I won’t say I wasn’t warned and given the opportunity for deliverance! At this point I only occasionally back up (and just to one external drive), as my images are generally not worth saving and losing them might be a blessing to start over. But I know I should mend my ways. Sally’s out camping while I’m here at the Fairgrounds, but she should return home soon and maybe I can find out from her what our password for remote access to our email is…or I can wait until I return home in a week or a bit more and then see what you have to say.

    Anyway, glad to hear there was a happy ending to your travails, and thanks for sharing the high desert images!

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