Wednesday, September 01, 2004

How may I help you?

Hey, it's better than "Would you like fries with that". At least for my circumstances, anyway. So the week and a half of training is over, and tomorrow we "go live". Wednesday will be our first day on the phones by ourselves, each of us squirrelled away in our own little cubicle (mine is #35, if you're ever in the neighborhood stop by and say hi), with all our notes and cheat sheets of useful URLs. The facts of help desk operation are probably familiar to anyone who has ever had to call one. You call up and tell us your problem, we write up a trouble ticket and attempt to do our best to solve it. But did you ever realize that there's a good reason why the advice you usually get is "format and reinstall"?

I remember a couple of years ago hearing people complain that all techs ever advised was to "format and reinstall". It seemed like a cop-out. "I don't really want to take the time to really solve your problem, so let's just fdisk your hard drive and start all over." But having heard many calls now, I realize that often that's the best advice you will get. You've added and removed hardware to the point where there is no "original" system left for me to go by. You've done the same with software. I have no way to tell how, or how well, you removed all traces of that software. Then you failed to install, update, or even use anti-virus software. You don't have a firewall, or have never configured it to do its job. So finally you call me...with your system full of spyware , adware, viruses, leftovers of extinct software and a few new pieces of hardware that may or may not have been installed properly. And since you're paying by the minute, you expect to have a solution, and a pristine system, within ten minutes or so. In that amount of time, I can probably tell that the only way you are ever going to get a factory-fresh system again is to format and reinstall your OS. Anything less is going to leave you with a vulnerable system that may or may not be fully healed. And you should remember, you were the one who inflicted the damage, not the help desk tech trying to help you. Don't get irritated with me because I can't undo in ten minutes what you've had months, perhaps years, to do.

As we've often said in both Scot's forum and in Lockergnome, the best habit you can develope when it comes to owning a personal computer is BACK UP YOUR DATA ON A REGULAR BASIS!! If it's important to you, make sure you have a backup copy somewhere besides on your hard drive. Then when you've finally gunked up your system to the point where I have no better option to suggest than that you format your hard drive and reinstall your OS, you will have everything important already preserved, and perhaps we can get your problem solved in just a few minutes.
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