A story about what happens when I go against my own policies
This is a long post. I apologize in advance for that. However, there's a lot to say about this, and if I leave anything out, you and I might regret it someday. Please read on.
I have a policy that I seldom break. I broke it two months ago and a client is now paying for it. All because I trusted the client (I know that sounds harsh - I will explain in a moment) and wanted to save him money.
If Windows gets corrupted (what??!! Never happens!), I tell my clients that part of the recovery process is that they will get a new hard drive, and the old drive will be safely stored for a period of at least six months to ensure I got everything off of it. If not, I can go back to the drive and find what we need. If the old drive still works, all the better, but they still get a new drive. Unfortunately, it bumps up the recovery cost by over $100, but that's my policy.
Windows on my client's laptop became corrupt, and the laptop wouldn't work properly. It became obvious that finding and fixing the problem was going to cost more than saving all his data, wiping the drive clean, reloading Windows, reloading all his applications (Word, Outlook, Roxio, AOL, Internet security software, etc.), and then restoring the data. (Now you know why it takes so long to perform this process.)
When this event occurs, and I think I've probably done this 40 or 50 times in the last seven years, the first thing I do is recover all the client's data I can. This is where the trust came in.
I asked him if he had any data outside of his My Documents folder and the Outlook folder, and he said, "no". I learned years ago that most client's don't really know the answer to that question, but this client has more knowledge about computer than most, so I took his word for it.
In addition, he had spent quite a bit of money with me over the past few months, so, I chose to not buy him a new hard drive, even though I had some twinges about it. By not buying a new drive, I "saved" him money. That was my mistake.
One thing I probably should mention here, in case some of you aren't aware of this, is that many software developers do not follow the rules laid out for them about how to develop their software. In reality, this is why so many people have trouble with Windows. Many of the "Windows failures" over the years are due to ill-behaved applications, not because Windows is so bad. I promise to explain why vendors are given such free range with Windows in another post.
A second thing I will say is that some of these software developers are major manufacturers that most of us trust to do the right thing.
Unfortunately, we really shouldn't trust anyone or any company when it comes to our data. I shouldn't have taken my client's word, and he should have kept very careful backups of his system and made sure that his stuff was really getting backed up. The integrity of your data is your responsibility, it isn't mine or any other consultant's that you hire. We do the best we can to make sure your data is safe, but we cannot guarantee it.
Having said that, I will go to great lengths to maintain the integrity of my clients' data. I have spent a lot of money on software and hardware tools to recover data from drives that don't work. I advise my clients on the best ways to back their data up. I WANT their data to be around when they need it.
So, the manufacturer of my client's photo software will not be revealed here, but I will call them Kodak. I have come to discover that Kodak stores photos by default in a folder created by them that DOES NOT RESIDE in the My Documents folder. My opinion is that that is hubris on Kodak's part. The My Documents folder is where ALL of a client's personal data and files should be saved BY DEFAULT. It is guaranteed that data recovery will focus on that folder. But how in the world is a person trying to recover data supposed to know that the photos aren't where they are expected to be unless they already knew how Kodak's software works?
I didn't have this fact in my bag of tricks, but I found out early in my career that no one is to be trusted when it comes to the client's data, even the client. And I made a mistake with this client. I broke my own policy.
I WON'T DO THAT AGAIN! If the client insists that the cost is too high, then they will have to go somewhere else to recover their data and get their PC up and running correctly. I don't ever again want to feel as though I've let a client down over this type of issue.
I said above that there are other manufacturers guilty of not placing your data into the My Documents folder. I will mention two more, although that doesn't even scratch the surface. Intuit, who manufactures Quicken and QuickBooks, places the data into a folder in their software folder. Your backups will go to My Docs, but not your working data file.
The other guilty party I want to mention here is MICROSOFT!!! If you use Outlook or Outlook Express, your data is in a folder tucked at least three folders deep in your Local Settings folder. That's bad enough, but unless you know where it is, you'll never find it, because Local Settings is A HIDDEN FOLDER! And Outlook Express' address book is in an entirely different folder altogether. Sheesh!
These types of issues are why you all hire us to help you with your PCs. We do the best we can, but we can only know what we have learned. I now know where Kodak stores your photos by default. I can change that for all my clients from here on out. But I know there are other software vendors out there breaking the rules, so your data recovery, at least if I do it, will cost you an extra $100+. You and I will both be glad you spent the money.