Infection NEVER means you’ve lost all your data!

A friend from the other side of the country was telling me today how she had recently had an infection on her laptop. Unfortunately, she had an assignment due which she had literally spent hours on and it was due the next day, so she was desperate to get her computer fixed.  Assuming (incorrectly) that I wouldn’t be able to do anything for her because I was 3500km away, she went on a frantic search for someone who could. She ended up at one of Australia’s well-known electrical/white goods/furniture retailers that appears to have opened up a computer service section in some states.

She explained the dire situation she was in to the technician and he had a look at it and promptly told her that nothing could be done except to wipe the whole lot clean and reinstall Windows. My friend assumed that the technician knew what he was talking about – and who wouldn’t think that a multi-billion dollar business hires people that know what they’re talking about? – and unhappily accepted the prognosis.  She lost all of her photos, documents (including her assignment), music and, of course, the myriad settings that Windows users end up tweaking over the life of their computer so that it is personalised and feels comfortable to use.

This really makes me wild and for one main reason; the only reason she lost her data was because of the extreme laziness of the technician (or possibly, the dishonest procedural practices that the business imposes on it’s technicians).

This is the sixth year that Geeks to the Rescue has been running and despite being called in to sort out at least one computer infection per week (and usually many more), I have never seen a situation where the data was not easily recoverable.  Let me be perfectly clear, I haven’t always been able to clean the infection without having to reinstall Windows (although this is rare), but I have NEVER, EVER, NOT ONCE had to delete the data in the process. Even in a worst case scenario where I have had to do “the wipe”, all I did first was backup the data before the Windows reinstall.  Disinfecting the data once it is on a backup drive and divorced from all the Windows files is child’s play; the squeaky clean data is then reunited with the fresh-as-a-daisy Windows re-installation.

So why didn’t my friend’s “expert” technician do the backup and disinfect? Simply because backing up data is boring and time-consuming and he was lazy. No self-respecting technician enjoys doing backups – it’s a bit like doing the dishes; it’s gotta be done but no-one likes it – but, that is no excuse for obliterating a client’s hard work and memories! And worst of all, she paid money for this pathetic service.

The moral to the story? If you have an infection and you go to get it fixed, ask the technician first if you are going to lose your data. If the answer is “Yes”, tell them, “Thanks for your time, but I’m looking for a hard-working technician”, then turn around and walk out that door (multi-billion or not).