Faustian descent into backup hell: A play in two acts

In which a Reg reader wrestles demons and Ghosts

ACT II

Scene IV

Enter Richard Collins, stage right

The latest position is ... they will give me 15 days supported access to their PC disk recovery software which should help me rescue my hard disk should the Acronis uninstall damage my machine (as they said it might)!

The thought of having to rely on a piece of software to rebuild my machine is scary enough.

Having to do it because I uninstalled a piece of their software that didn't do what they promised leaves me speechless.

Scene V: The view from Acronis

A room in Acronis' HQ with a spokesperson

Spokesperson:

Richard purchased the Acronis product with the intention of cloning his laptop and then contacted our support team for assistance with this task. The support team informed him that in order to clone his laptop, he would have to place a new, second hard drive within his laptop. The next step would be to clone the original hard drive to the new hard drive via USB. Because the customer did not want to follow this procedure, cloning could not take place and therefore Acronis provided him with a refund.

Enter Ed Benack, Acronis' Chief Information Officer/Chief Customer Officer

We are sorry to hear of Richard’s situation. Acronis will continue to offer a refund if a customer feels a product does not meet their specific needs, even if they want to use it in a way it was not designed for. In this instance the user wanted to clone, not back up, his machine. However cloning, unlike backup, always requires a second hard drive. Since the user didn’t want to clone to a second drive, we gave him a refund and offered assistance with removing the software, regardless of the fact the he was not entitled to support.

“We can also confirm that the Acronis support team did advise Richard on how to ensure his data was protected while he was guided through the steps necessary to remove the software. Part of this process meant that we provided our standard caution as we would with any utility that edits the registry or cleans up a system. We will continue to offer this caution – even if it’s an extremely remote risk – since we want our customers to be aware of any potential risks to their data, and advise them of the best steps to keep it protected.

We believe we followed best practices in providing full support to this customer and will be happy to continue to help him.

Scene V: Enter the ghost

The middle of the night between 23 and 24 September in Richard Collins' house, an appropriate time for ghostly encounter. Richard Collins is seated at his desk.

Instead of Acronis, I bought the Norton Ghost equivalent product which I used for a few disk images and it seemed fine.

I chose to copy a folder from Drive I to Drive F, nothing special, you can see the drive map here. The copy failed. I had an engineer sign on at 00:20. He was based in India; he took control of my machine, changed some service settings and rebooted it three times. He gave up at 01.30 and passed it up to the senior engineers.

They took control of my machine at 01.50 and tweaked more settings but the same problem stayed, they eventually settled on a work-around. They instructed the backup and preceded the I Drive/Folder specification with a dummy file type *.ttt. The backup then ran with the work-around but took 28 minutes and scanned every drive.

This morning I devised a better work-around until Norton fix their product. [The report transcript is in the Bootnote below.]

We put men on the moon 30 years ago, since then we’ve had the web, YouTube, etc, but two global software businesses cannot make something simple enough to back up a couple of Windows 7 PC drives!

I could have done without three hours online last night but [am] pleased to have received their support and a resolution.

FINIS

The support teams for both Acronis and Norton were courteous, polite and efficient. We're glad the story had a happy ending and commend both companies for their efforts to help Richard Collins. ®

Bootnote – Norton work-around report transcript

Thanasingh Mosae Sathiyaseelan: Hi Richard, my name is Moses from Norton Support, how are you doing today?
Richard Collins: Tired after three hours with your engineers last night until 3am.
TM Sathiyaseelan, TM: I apologise for the difficulties you have recently encountered.
R Collins: They found a work-around to the problem, but I have found a better one. Could you find out what the reference number was? A clue, one LOGMEIN session was number 211952.
TM Sathiyaseelan: Richard, are you able to do the backup now?
R Collins: Yes, with a work-around.
TM Sathiyaseelan: Good. May I know what you did now to fix this issue?
R Collins: The engineers setup a dummy file type of *.ttt AND the Drive/folder I wanted which was I/Tacklers. This ran but it took 28 minutes and scanned every drive on the systems to find *.ttt types, obviously none existed but it slogged through 2.5 GB of disk to find out.
R Collins: MY solution follows.
R Collins: The system fails when just I/Tacklers is specified.
TM Sathiyaseelan: Okay. Do you want me to escalate this case again to the Engineering team?
R Collins: No, hold on.
R Collins: I set up a dummy folder on C, named dummy.
R Collins: When the backup is configured C/Dummy, I/Tacklers then the backup works. It ran in seven minutes, not the 28 minutes your engineers configured.
R Collins: They were going to advise your development team of the problem as the software needs changing. This work-around is easy and works. Okay?
TM Sathiyaseelan: Okay. I will give this information to the Engineering team.
R Collins: Do you know what the case number was?
TM Sathiyaseelan: The new case number will be created after this chat session.
TM Sathiyaseelan: The old case number is case number is SFDC-00607728.

R Collins: Okay thanks,
info: Your chat transcript will be sent to richard@tacklers.co.uk at the end of your chat.
TM Sathiyaseelan: You are welcome. Richard, do you need any call-back from the Engineering team?
R Collins: No I'm done, hope the product gets fixed soon. Bye. ®

Sponsored: 5 critical considerations for enterprise cloud backup