Software support chap survived breaking his customer

Sometimes there's more than enough blame to go around

Who, Me? Welcome once again, gentle reader, to the safe space we like to call Who, Me? wherein Reg readers may unburden themselves with tales of times their tech prowess might have let them down.

In this week's instalment, our hero – who we will Regomize as "Percy" – totally got away with wrecking a client's machine purely because said client was … to put it kindly … not technically proficient.

Our story starts some years ago, when Percy was working in tech support for "a major UK software company" specifically in the payroll and accounting sphere. When users of the software had issues, Percy was one of the bods whose job was to get them up and running again – generally via remote access.

One fine day he received a call from a customer whose accounting data had become hopelessly corrupted and he didn't know why.

Percy leapt into action, remotely logging into the customer's system and performing diagnostics. What he found was a complete fustercluck: clearing caches didn't work, none of the recovery tools worked. It was utterly borked.

With the customer's permission, he started exploring the system to see if some larger issue was at play. Within his accounts data there were a bunch of large folders that shouldn't have been there – nine gigabytes of stuff that did not belong within the accounts data folders.

Making an educated guess that these folders might be causing the problem, Percy deleted them. I mean, who doesn't feel better after purging 9GB of junk, right?

Well, as it happened, those specific 9GB were the customer's financial records. Eleven years of them, dating back to the beginning of his business. And now they were gone.

Did the customer have a backup? Of course not. The customer was storing financial data in entirely the wrong place on the drive so that it looked like junk. This was not someone with a sensible backup strategy.

Of course nowadays it would all be cloud-synced so no big issue. This was not nowadays.

Percy's mission shifted to data recovery in rather a hurry. He ran a few utilities in the desperate hope of resurrecting the lost data, with no luck.

He asked the user to restart the machine, in hopes that after a restart there might be more success. And moments later his remote connection vanished.

That was awfully quick, thought our hero. Restart usually takes a tad longer than that.

How exactly did you shut down the machine, asked Percy?

The user explained that he just pulled the plug from the wall. Like he always does.

Ah. Well, the initial cause of the data corruption suddenly became clear. And, as it happened, a lifeline.

Percy explained to the user how to shut the system down properly at the end of a work day. By doing so, you can avoid irreparable data corruption – not to mention the tragic loss of 9GB of business records that should have been backed up.

Chastened, but feeling educated, the customer gave Percy a 10/10 on his satisfaction survey. And Percy kept his job. To this day he still works in the same place – so don't tell anyone, OK?

The world is full of Percys, saved from the consequences of their stuff-ups by someone else's bigger stuff-up. If that sounds like you, we'd like to hear from you. Click here to send an email to Who, Me? and we'll share your exploits with the world – secretly.

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