back to article When the IT department speaks, users listen. Or face the consequences

Friday is here! A chance to slope off early, enjoy a few brews and look back on a week of hard work. Unless, of course, you are one of the unfortunate souls destined to be forever at the beck and call of users. Bask in the fact that it's not you as you peruse this latest instalment of On Call. Today's tale comes from a …

  1. Admiral Grace Hopper

    Beautiful

    A lovely start to the weekend. Classical support methodology: clear, concise, complete, ruthless.

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Beautiful

      It is the same one I implement today. 2 years ago, at a previous company, a user got a virus on her machine that encrypted the bootsector. We removed the drive, quarantined it and put a new drive in the laptop and rolled out a new, standard image.

      The user had been told many times that the company policy was that all files had to be stored on the network and any local files would be lost in the event of a disaster.

      So she just had to suck ít up and live with the fact that any files she hadn't saved on the file server were gone.

      1. LucreLout Silver badge

        Re: Beautiful

        The user had been told many times that the company policy was that all files had to be stored on the network and any local files would be lost in the event of a disaster.

        We have this policy and even have a corporate OneDrive, and still, still not a week goes by where I don't hear some colleague shouting into the phone about lost product.

        Yes, the nuke from orbit approach does convey a lack of understanding as its more often than not possible to rectify the issue without formatting or re-imaging, but yes, it does happen and it does sometimes have to happen. Right, wrong, doesn't matter - surely by now everyone knows its what IT support are likely to do and it's not like they haven't prepared opportunity for you to mitigate the consequences.

        1. BrownishMonstr Bronze badge

          Re: Beautiful

          Maybe there should be a monthly nuke, it'll get 'em prepared.

          1. Is It Me Bronze badge

            Re: Beautiful

            Too generous, it should default back to a clean build every evening, that way people will SOON learn to save on network drives.

            1. Zippy´s Sausage Factory
              Pint

              Re: Beautiful

              That's sadistic.

              I love it.

              1. Benson's Cycle

                Re: Beautiful

                Actually it isn't, it is a very good policy.

                Clean image every day means that the maximum time before a user discovers why they've been doing it wrong is only 24 hours, rather than let them accumulate a world of pain.

                1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

                  Re: Beautiful

                  That's exactly how I set up a system about a decade ago, in this case specifically to stop multiple users using shared machines s***ting all over the desktop. Within a week a higher-up had disabled the overnight-wipe-and-reset* due to the users *demanding* to use the desktop as a junk pile.

                  *actually done as part of the user logon/logoff process, so done several times a day. You'd think that would smash the concept into their tiny minds.

                  1. Alan Brown Silver badge

                    Re: Beautiful

                    "Within a week a higher-up had disabled the overnight-wipe-and-reset* due to the users *demanding* to use the desktop as a junk pile."

                    You were doing it wrong. The system should have been a standard image that restarted after every reboot and nothing _EVER_ saved to local disk, therefore no "wipe" to have to defend to the higher ups.

                2. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Beautiful

                  Only if you can save favourites, Word templates etc for each user between resets. Unless you are in charge of a bunch of completely locked-down drones

                  1. Benson's Cycle

                    Re: Beautiful

                    That is exactly what Chrome and gSuite achieve.

                    (I know that Google are as evil as anybody else, but at least they have thought through how an office situation should work from other people's experience, instead of having to keep tweaking what has gone before. Yes, Mr. Trading Desk Analyst, I know it doesn't handle your 128k row spreadsheet with thousands of macros, but you are not the typical office worker.)

                3. Ripper38
                  Coat

                  Re: Beautiful

                  Thin Client, anyone?

              2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

                Re: Beautiful

                No. That's not sadistic. That's actually the way to make sure people learn. They/ll learn the lesson in their first week when there isn't much to lose anyway, and they'll never have a problem with it.

                What our BOFH's assistant did here, on the other hand, serves as a testament to the general lack of homicidal tendencies amongst normal people. The BOFH sent 12 emails over a year, so is perfectly aware that people *are* storing valuable (to the company) documents locally, but apparently it was too much effort to check in this case, so the company got screwed and presumably the BOFH and PFY tried to blame the end-user.

                1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
                  Facepalm

                  Re: Beautiful

                  Apparently some people still think it's someone else's job to do their thinking for them.

            2. jason_derp

              Re: Beautiful

              Maybe just toss out local hard disks altogether. Rather than putting a clean build onto a disk each night, every user gets a USB stick with a linux os. The stick is persistent so that you can save shortcuts and stuff like that, but woefully undersized for saving any decent amount of files to it. Then they have to save to the share drive, there's no other option.

              1. Korev Silver badge

                Re: Beautiful

                In our Linux environment we give the users a pitifully low $HOME quote to encourage them to put data where other people in their team and/or project can get to it.

              2. Benson's Cycle

                Re: Beautiful

                You just pretty much described how Chrome OS works. Take any laptop in the morning, log in, your environment returns. What Windows tried to achieve but in a much more clunky way.

              3. Strahd Ivarius
                Devil

                Re: Beautiful

                And then don't forget to bill people for all the data they store on the network repositories...

            3. Swampie

              Re: Beautiful

              Take HD out of chasis; boot from burned CD. Now, they must save to a floppy or to a network file share! ( this was at a office in 2003-2004!)

              1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

                Re: Beautiful

                Trust me they will choose floppy, which is about as good as not saving.

                When i worked a college not a day went by a sad student with a floppy wanted help recovering work.

                Time and time again i asked them why.

                They said the teachers told them to

                I asked the teachers why why on gods earth were they telling students to forsake the safe, clean, big, backed up, accessible Home drive and save data on a floppy.

                .

                "Because it says in the syllabus they have to know how to save to a floppy drive"

                1. rototype

                  Re: Beautiful

                  ... And how adept did you become at removing the little metal covers off the floppy disks from the drives? Been there, seen it, done it, thrown away the t-shirt (was full of holes) - 2 expansion blankers and a little wiggling and it saves the price of a new drive.

                  Got out of education very soon after this and I've given up on council and NHS work as well (nope, never got IR35'd) - private only now.

            4. Graham Dawson Silver badge

              Re: Beautiful

              Oddly enough, this was the policy at Manchester city council back around 2004 or so. I had a data entry job in the adult education department. Everything was administered through rdp, with no local storage whatsoever, and each session close cleared and reset anything that wasn't stored on the user's network partition. The sysadmin in my office spent most of his time sleeping behind his desk.

            5. Anne Hunny Mouse

              Re: Beautiful

              It happens with our Sh1trix XenApp servers, not sure if this is recommended design.

              Bad news is that it is still Sh1trix, which is also now horribly expensive.

              Outlook annoys me as unlike most apps which remember the last save location, Outlook always reverts to your Documents folder on startup

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Beautiful

                Sounds like you need a new administrator who actually understands how Xenapp and GPOs work. Every time I hear Sh1trix, it is usually because the environment is being administered by the inept.

                If you are complaining about stuff being saved locally on the Xenapp servers being lost, ask the following questions.

                Why are you doing this?

                How are you doing this (should be blocked by competent admin)

                Despite being called servers, Xenapp machines are your application client. Save stuff on the network. The Xenapp machines are probably provisioned with PVS or MCS, so will be reverted to clean base images every reboot.

                1. neilfs

                  Re: Beautiful

                  Sh1trix also translates to me that it was installed by and managed by someone who did their one day training course and has little skill beyond that. When installed correctly by someone experienced it is faster at login, cleaner, fewer issues and far cheaper. But sadly I see too many poor examples of it in the wild and those who installed it appear to have charged a lot for their incomplete install.

            6. shah27

              Re: Beautiful

              Oh my god this sounds beautiful.

        2. Dave314159ggggdffsdds

          Re: Beautiful

          We're supposed to be providing a service, not just ticking boxes. If users are often losing their work - you know, the work which actually earns the money our service costs - then you should fix that. Better backups, stricter permissions, etc.

          What you don't do is wash your hands of it because you sent out an email and now your arse is covered.

          1. steviebuk Silver badge

            Re: Beautiful

            True!

          2. localzuk

            Re: Beautiful

            I'd suggest both your suggestions are technical solutions to a people problem.

            I'd approach it a little more brutally - send out a reminder that ALL work must be saved on the network drive, say checks will be performed next week, and that anyone caught using the local documents folder to save stuff will face disciplinary...

            1. Tom 7 Silver badge

              Re: Beautiful

              The true solution would be to make the Document folder completely read only or otherwise unusable, A bootup script that deletes all files would soon get the message across.

              1. Joe Zeff
                Mushroom

                Re: Beautiful

                Even better, create a ramdrive and map the folder to it. Every time they reboot, it gets wiped. And, you know how often Windows has to reboot!

                1. Kiwi Silver badge
                  Windows

                  Re: Beautiful

                  Even better, create a ramdrive and map the folder to it. Every time they reboot, it gets wiped. And, you know how often Windows has to reboot!

                  For some horrible reason (thankfully time has faded the memory of those evil days!) I had to use IE for stuff, or it may've just been Window's normal practices. Anyway, the "temporary internet files" and other "temp" stuff was getting tucked away by 95 or whatever version of 'doze I was using, rather than being deleted as they should be. Back when MS had coded the system to go to efforts to "move" instead of delete when you tried to get rid of them and so on.

                  I created a ram drive for the explicit purpose of stuffing these things on there, in the hopes of being able to wipe them.

                  Nope, someone at MS had thought of that as well - the OS proceeded to copy the 'temp' folder back to the HDD at shut down.

                  So I wouldn't hold much hope that idea would work. MS would make sure they kept a copy of the data somewhere you didn't want it. Hell, these days I suspect if you use a MS format/delete tool it'll carefully copy every byte to one of their stores before doing anything else with it.

              2. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

                Re: Beautiful

                "make the Document folder completely read only"

                That^ or similar.

                I'm not buying the "Remapping was not easily possible" line in the story.

                1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

                  Re: Beautiful

                  Have you ever wrestled with MS software of that era?

                  Remember it took decades for MS to add real symbolic links to NTFS, and FAT32 (Win95/98/ME) never had them. You could do the opposite (assign a drive letter to a directory) easily with the 'subst' command, but not assign a folder to a mapped drive.

                  1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

                    Re: Beautiful

                    I praised the heavens when HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Explorer\MyDocuments=H:\ became possible. (or something)

                  2. Sam Liddicott

                    Re: Beautiful

                    It was possible even in DOS well before Windows 95 with the "join" command.

                    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

                      Re: Beautiful

                      Did that work with network drives though? I have some distant memory of using PC/NFS in the 90s and finding stuff like that not working as wanted/expected.

                      1. Kiwi Silver badge

                        Re: Beautiful

                        Did that work with network drives though? I have some distant memory of using PC/NFS in the 90s and finding stuff like that not working as wanted/expected.

                        ISTR something similar with Personal Netware or another such package as well. A lot of stuff was much easier but various other things refused to work with network shares.

                  3. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

                    Re: Beautiful

                    fair point.

                    maybe you could just make the folder read only with a shortcut to desired location in it .

                    you knw , with cacls or whatever

                2. Kiwi Silver badge

                  Re: Beautiful

                  I'm not buying the "Remapping was not easily possible" line in the story.

                  This was 98. Even trying to move the temp folder was impossible - put it somewhere wiped at shutdown (like a ram drive) and windows would copy the data back. Try to change a path, and it either couldn't be done or windows would revert it anyway.

                  Don't forget this was the day when you could enter a password and log in to the machine using the password, or click "cancel" on the login in prompt and log in to the same machine without using the password (which I delighted in showing one guy who was a 'windows expert' and had his machine so locked down I could never crack his password. Was a bit miffed that I didn't need to!)

                  1. JJKing Silver badge
                    Trollface

                    Re: Beautiful

                    Don't forget this was the day when you could enter a password and log in to the machine using the password, or click "cancel" on the login in prompt and log in to the same machine without using the password

                    You could then go to the Windows folder, delete the .PWL file and reset their password. Hehehehe

              3. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Beautiful

                Old solution to deal with Documents and other profile folders was to redirect them to a network location, usually the users home drive. New solution is to just implement FSLogix and not worry about it.

            2. jason_derp

              Re: Beautiful

              People problems are more difficult to solve though, and technical solutions are easier implemented. Who would enforce the disciplinary action? I wouldn't want to be the IT guy telling some supervisor he has a new job to do once I give him a list of names next week. At a place I worked at, the IT person said that: "If I walk into a room full of people at computers, and none of them are choking on their mouse, those people have all reached the maximum level of computer proficiency I can reasonably expect of them."

          3. chuckrman

            Re: Beautiful

            I agree completely. IT is here to support the business and is not the business itself (unless IT services is your business). Now given the limitations of the technology at hand I can understand that sometimes you have to rely on the user doing "the right thing" but, in general, I would have measured this as a risk and would have looked for a compensating control. Perhaps a script that was run once a day to copy the contents of the "My Documents" directory to the mapped home drive as these should be known variables. As someone earlier in the comments mentioned OneDrive, a nice aspect of this service in locations with the appropriate enterprise agreements and infrastructure you can use GPO's and have directories directly replicated up to the OneDrive as appropriate. While we can't hold the end user as having no responsibilities, we should be looking at common risks and trying to address them as commensurate with the value of the loss.

            1. Bruce Ordway

              Re: Beautiful

              >> IT is here to support the business and is not the business itself

              In spite of how irritating as some end users could be,

              when something went wrong, I might add some color commentary but I'd still go the extra mile to resolve things. More than once I've used disk repair tools to recover files.

              As one of my mentors told me.. we don't have to like each other but we must work together.

              1. Kiwi Silver badge
                Facepalm

                Re: Beautiful

                As one of my mentors told me.. we don't have to like each other but we must work together.

                That works both ways.

                How often should you be recovering files for users (which can be a very lengthy process!) when the need to recover files is because they have repeatedly refused to follow simple instructions?

                User gets told once to do things a certain way and messes up, fine. Gets reminded a few months later because of a mess up, fine. Gets told monthly for a year and still screws up? Not fine. No way that should be on IT. They should be getting charged IT's time that is wasted supporting them when it was their refusal to follow basic instructions that got them in trouble.

                1. Peter2 Silver badge

                  Re: Beautiful

                  How often should you be recovering files for users (which can be a very lengthy process!) when the need to recover files is because they have repeatedly refused to follow simple instructions?

                  How much is the users data worth to the company? IF $datacost >= $ITstaffcost then recover it as often as required by the business. I had a user like this in our sales dept with critical information in the win 3.1 days. My solution was an absurdly inelegant batch file. Initially it was set to run manually and managed through basic procedure management; the users management checked the completion screen was showing daily. It was later (win95 iirc) set to kick off via a scheduled task at 3PM daily.

                  Basically my batch file had 30 days backups; every day when run the script deleted folder 30, then did a rename of folder 29 to folder 30 and so on back to folder zero, and folder zero was then created by being xcopied up to the server from data held on the client PC.

                  Incredibly inelegant, but unsurprisingly we never actually lost any information, regardless of how many times people accidentally (or deliberately) deleted things. I vaguely recall getting fed up being asked to do restores and knocking up a script to prompt for a number and then copy that folder back to the users PC.

                  That little script ran for something like 15 years, being ported from one replacement PC to the next. It actually kept going past the point of when it should rationally have done (with the advent of roaming and redirected profiles etc) simply because of the simple restore functionality which had saved the sales department bacon quite a lot. It ended when it was discovered that over the years the data had grown to something like several hundred megabytes making the total size stored on the network something in the multigigabyte range, which at the time was a noticible chunk of the hard drive it was being stored on.

                  It's never been that difficult to automate these things, it's mostly a question of will on the part of the administrator. IT departments that pick up attitudes like that of the chap in this story are the ones that end up getting outsourced because your role is business support, and if your not supporting the business then the business probably wants shot of you.

                  1. Kiwi Silver badge
                    Pint

                    Re: Beautiful

                    How much is the users data worth to the company? IF $datacost >= $ITstaffcost then recover it as often as required by the business. I had a user like this in our sales dept with critical information in the win 3.1 days.

                    Take a document that is auto-saved every 5 minutes. It is open for weeks on end.

                    It is saved outside of the expected location (perhaps in some deliberate fashion because the user doesn't trust IT with the data for some (usually) idiotic reason), and is saved outside of that location despite instructions from their boss to the contrary.

                    Said file gets lost and needs some deeper level recovery. How many versions do you think can be recovered? I've seen over 200,000 versions of one spreadsheet on a large recovery. Date-stamps may be a good help, but are not guaranteed. So the user's machine is offline for a few hours, maybe a day, while the recovery software looks for files and pulls what it can off to another disk. You hope that it's saved under the normal extension but odds are good that the user changed the extension because IT are too dumb to know about changed file extensions, and the user cannot recall what they changed it to.

                    How many hours do you think it takes to trawl through trying to find the file and then the last version of the file? It's not always quick and easy to recover data.

                    Now. This would not have happened had the user taken a moment to follow the correct procedure, but instead their arrogance means at least a couple of people are unproductive for hours if not days dealing with their problem.

                    How much is a person's time worth? Why should arrogant idiots who waste company time by not following procedures be given a pass? It's not IT's fault they're incompetent, and if you wish to make the claim of "there to support the business" then how abotu the user do the job they were hired to do without messing up other people's lives by their selfish arrogant incompetence?. My time is for people who do their job to the best of their abilities and follow the proper procedures, the reasons for which were explained to them. If they truly knew better then I wouldn't have been losing a week or more a year of time on other jobs due to their actions. No one else had a problem. No one else needed more than a few seconds of time to recover a file because it was saved in a nice network location with plenty of resources for keeping older versions. At most they lost an hour's work and at most I spent 5 minutes locating it.

                    If I'd had the authority, they would've been gone on the 2nd incident. (and if I'd had the authority, their HDD would've had just enough room for the OS and some local files, at least then I would've only had maybe a couple of gig of space to look through, not a 1tb HDD with only XP and some stuff - maybe 10G used in total, the rest of the disk gaining deleted flies as the system had no need to over-write 'empty' space for a very long time).

                    --> I have done scripts similar to yours, especially to keep my own stuff backed up across disks. Messy, but usually quick to implement and as reliable (if not more than) as some of the more expensive stuff. Especially if you're only working with changed files!

                2. JimC

                  Re: they have repeatedly refused to follow simple instructions?

                  Perhaps the simple instructions aren't quite as simple as they might be? Users don't want to **** up. Part of our job is to do our best to make it more difficult for the users to get it wrong than get it right.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Beautiful

              Agreed - if you know the normative outcomes of failure to follow a data policy, then you set the user machines up so that violating the policy is extremely difficult. At work we are responsible for saving our own files (tho we all save to the Z drive as a matter of course), but if said documents are mission critical - like anything to do with invoicing or inventory, then the machines are set up to automatically back up anything created to the server.You can't fix stupid, but you can create situations where the company doesn't go TITSUP just because you forgot the primary axiom of the BOFH manual: A: (L)users are to be kept from messing up a network at all cost, and B: you can't buy a pint if you've got no dosh because you failed to follow A!!!

              1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

                Re: Beautiful

                but if said documents are mission critical - like anything to do with invoicing or inventory, then the machines are set up to automatically back up anything created to the server

                Whaaat?

                That seems like the clunkiest , longest way round ever solution to the problem at hand.

                Just make the machine not saveable to. Unlike 1998 or whenever the story was set , this is now easy. almost the default

          4. LeahroyNake Silver badge

            Re: Beautiful

            TBH I would have replaced the failing drive (we now replace the spinning rust with SSD's and have a box of spare ones ready to go) and recover the files for them to the correct network storage location. The speed increase from the upgrade makes a 5 year old system better than some of the new crappy ones that we are forced to supply.

            We generally find making them sweat for a few hours works wonders and they then use the correct locations without further prompting. So I get to be a bitch at the beginning then an awesome bitch when they are back up and running.

            1. BrownishMonstr Bronze badge

              Re: Beautiful

              Just proves skinner boxes work. You may get somewhere treating them nicely, but it won't be as effective as electrocuting them now and again.

              Yes, my electrocuting office chair is patent pending. Works wonders. As long as no one plays mad hatter.

              1. Richard 12 Silver badge
                Headmaster

                Re: Beautiful

                Sadly you only get to electrocute someone once, so it may be best to make sure everyone else sees.

                Make a festival out of it, pour encouragement les autres.

                1. Kiwi Silver badge

                  Re: Beautiful

                  Sadly you only get to electrocute someone once, so it may be best to make sure everyone else sees.

                  I've been electrocuted hundreds of times, and deliberately electrocuted others.

                  It depends on the voltages and currents used as to whether it's a fatal or significantly harmful shock, or just a wee tingle..

                  (Very fun when you're working on a live electric fence because you couldn't be arsed going back to the shed to turn it off, and someone else comes along, sees you working, assumes another section of fence nearby is also off, and gets a bit of a shock to discover otherwise ;) )

                  [El Reg - SERIOSULY lacking in the icon dept! Where's the cattleprod that'd be so approprite here????]

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: Beautiful

                    I've only ever been electr

                  2. Richard 12 Silver badge
                    Boffin

                    Re: Beautiful

                    Electrocution means death via electric shock, nothing less.

                    You've been shocked many times, not killed and reanimated.

                    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                      Re: Beautiful

                      "You've been shocked many times, not killed and reanimated."

                      Are you sure?

                      Signed, Frank N. Furter.

                    2. Kiwi Silver badge

                      Re: Beautiful

                      Electrocution means death via electric shock, nothing less.

                      No.

                      See https://www.visualthesaurus.com/cm/wc/electrocution-a-shocking-misuse/ for a start.

                      In my area it's pretty commonly used for what you call a 'shock', including in safety material (I can recall one back in the '90s using a phrase very similar to 'One of the more embarrassing possibilities of electrocution is the loss of bladder or bowel control" - point being that a) 'electrocution' was definitely used and b) survival with little or no actual injury was expected.

                      Most of the overseas dictionaries do agree with you (well except the part about meaning nothing less than death - they almost all say "severe injury or death" (paraphrased)), as does the etymology - but that ain't often stopped words getting into common and even correct use :)

                  3. Man inna barrel

                    Re: Beautiful

                    Electrocute means to exeCUTE by ELECTRicity. It is a method of capital punishment, once used in the USA. Unless you are some kind of zombie, you have never been electrocuted.

                    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
                      Headmaster

                      Re: Beautiful

                      "exeCUTE" "ELECTRicity" "capital punishment"

                      Indeed.

                    2. Kiwi Silver badge

                      Re: Beautiful

                      Electrocute means to exeCUTE by ELECTRicity. It is a method of capital punishment, once used in the USA. Unless you are some kind of zombie, you have never been electrocuted.

                      According to the article I linked in my last reply, that was the original etymology but even before the first execution by such means it was already commonly being used to refer to a shock.

                      All of the online dictionaries I checked say it can mean death or severe injury by electricity, but is not limited to capital punishment.

                  4. JJKing Silver badge
                    Facepalm

                    Re: Beautiful

                    I've been electrocuted hundreds of times,

                    I grew up on a farm at the bottom of the South Island and I can only say, "Bloody electric fences".

                    1. Kiwi Silver badge

                      Re: Beautiful

                      I've been electrocuted hundreds of times,

                      I grew up on a farm at the bottom of the South Island and I can only say, "Bloody electric fences".

                      I used to have a lot of fun with them. Once you get over the shock of accidentally touching one you expect to be off, or touching a fence you don't realise is live (loved the Ozzie hardwood[1] - natural insulation so no need for the tell-tale insulators that normally denote an electric fence ;). I could happily walk up to one and grab it and not even slightly wince while straight-faced telling someone "It's OK, it's turned off".

                      Maybe that explains why I'm such a bright spark today.. Observed a hell of a lot of voltage in my youth. Worst was either a K9 tube or a spark plug lead that wasn't even close to insulating - the latter at a much faster pulse rate than any fence (even today I don't touch leads in running/just stopped vehicles without tools or gloves!)

                      [1] At least that's what I recall being told it was in the late 80s. May not have been Australian, but it was a wood that would not conduct electricity (at least at the fence levels).

          5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Beautiful

            "What you don't do is wash your hands of it because you sent out an email and now your arse is covered."

            Now wash your hands.

          6. Hamish McNish
            Thumb Up

            Re: Beautiful

            The most sensible comment so far.

        3. hittitezombie

          Re: Beautiful

          All fine and well, but OneDrive can't cope with deep directory structures and not-even-long filenames. luckily everything I do is stashed away onto a git server.

        4. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Beautiful

          "as its more often than not possible to rectify the issue without formatting or re-imaging, "

          Just because you _can_ doesn't mean you _should_ - is the data you salvage worth the labour cost of doing so?

    2. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Beautiful

      Probably useless too. I've been amazed at people who have no clue what the Z: drive is. We have regular fire alarm tests. We should have regular 'restating the bleeding obvious to management again and again in the knowledge they wont get it despite the bollocks they put on their CV about 47 years Windows95 experience.'

      1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

        Re: Beautiful

        I think part of the problem is calling it the Z-drive. This occurred to me when I recently did some work at a different university, and their networked drive was N: (for networked). Z has a connotation of being something to be disregarded, the last thing, an afterthought.

        1. BrownishMonstr Bronze badge
          Coat

          Re: Beautiful

          I thought Z drive was where dead files come back alive, but not in the way you remember them.

          That's me looking for my gun

        2. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          Re: Beautiful

          The H-drive (H for Home) also works pretty well.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Beautiful

            It probably works better for people with a Unix background otherwise it sounds more like their domestic stuff.

          2. Criggie

            Re: Beautiful

            Yep - used to have a net use h: /home in a login script for XP clients in the 2000s/

            Then one serve of new machines started coming with those 4 port USB card readers, and windows used C through H for them.

            C Boot partition

            D second partition

            E Optical drive

            F/G/H/I drives were four card reader slots even if they were empty.

            And the net use command simply failed. Fix was to assign O for Optical drive, and UVWX for cardreaders, leaving H for home, N and M for Network and MUSAC, S for Student and T for Temp.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Beautiful

          Or W: ( for "work"). Done that in the past.

        4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Beautiful

          "I think part of the problem is calling it the Z-drive. "

          I've not noticed that as a problem. Could it be because we here say Zed and some other places say Zee? Or maybe the last decades worth of popular Zombie films and TV shows in the US?

    3. JimC

      Re: Beautiful

      Even back then though, while you couldn't remap my documents, you could change the default save location for MS documents to be on a network drive.

  2. Chunky Munky
    Facepalm

    Hats off to Phillippe! Oh I wish I could do the same

    The school I'm a minion at has network drives mapped to every computer in the school, especially the staff laptops. This is important as the network drives are backed up every night. The laptop local drives are not. Staff are told on day 1 never to save important work the the desktop or anywhere else on the C: drive as in the event of a drive failure or worse, all the data will be lost forever.

    Enter Mrs "Don't tell me what to do, my husband knows computers!" She came into work one morning to say that she'd lost her laptop. Actually, she'd been to the pub leaving the laptop bag on the back seat of the car in full view. Oddly enough, when she got back to the car the rear window was smashed an no laptop. The boys in blue were duly summoned and advised contacting her insurance peeps who promptly told her the laptop was uninsured as she'd left it on display.

    The worse news for her was that she had to explain to the head and the parents and students she taught that the 12 months of coursework she's been storing on her desktop was gone forever because IT hadn't backed it up!!!!! <facepalm>

    The codicil to this story is that last month her laptop came in to have a fault looked at and (you guessed it) the desktop was full of student files.

    To paraphrase Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz 'Death's too good for some people'

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Facepalm

      Desktop or Laptop?

      ... she'd lost her laptop ... 12 months of coursework she's been storing on her desktop was gone ...

      1. Chunky Munky

        Re: Desktop or Laptop?

        that should read the windows desktop of the laptop...

      2. Dave K Silver badge

        Re: Desktop or Laptop?

        "Right click on the desktop"

        "You know I have a laptop right?"

        1. Ordinary Donkey

          Re: Desktop or Laptop?

          Modern laptops you often have to make a v-sign to right click.

          This makes me inappropriately happy.

          1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
            Windows

            Re: Desktop or Laptop?

            Balls to that, I'll just slap on my 20 year old Microsoft Intellimouse!

            1. big_D Silver badge

              Re: Desktop or Laptop?

              It still have 2 original Intellimouse Explorers from the turn of the century at home in my cupboard. Great mice. I used to use one with my Surface Pro 3.

              I currently have a Logi MX Master 2 as my day-to-day mouse, but the Intellimice are great.

    2. Dwarf Silver badge

      Not an IT problem

      Sounds like a conversation with the head and / or chair of governors is required. The accountability remains with them to deal with their staff. IT may have identified the problem, but this is not an IT problem, its a management problem.

      1. Antonius_Prime

        Re: Not an IT problem

        This is something I've explained to more than a few IT-adjacent staff in my work.

        I'm all for solving problems with tech -- when they're the kinds of problems that tech can solve.

        Can't solve people though...

        Yes, technology can do --fscking-- amazing things, but if we cover it in policy, instruct people on policy & stick to policy, when the inevitable occurs we can point to our IMAC/CYA of a policy and say: "Did you do the thing we specifically told you not to do? Yes? Then gl;hf;gg..."

        Plus, it means less ballaches in the long run when manglement get behind us and policy and we don;t have to support long dead systems or one off POS pieces of software, or... (you get the idea...)

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Not an IT problem

          I'm with you up to a point but it's also management's call on what's a long dead system. The system you might want to get rid of might be the one that does the work that brings in the money that pays IT's wages.

          1. Antonius_Prime

            Re: Not an IT problem

            On that we agree, and after all, exceptions get made...

        2. Ian Johnston

          Re: Not an IT problem

          ...we can point to our IMAC/CYA of a policy and say: "Did you do the thing we specifically told you not to do?

          At which point they bring out an organisational chart and say "Precisely where on here does it say you have authority to give me instructions?" You're a service department, not a layer of management, and if instructions are needed they should be sent by someone with authority to give them.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Not an IT problem

            At which you point to the poster on the wall which says "Experience is a dear teacher but there are those that well learn by no other."

            Instructions and warnings are two different things.

          2. Dave314159ggggdffsdds

            Re: Not an IT problem

            If you work somewhere like that, then you're probably not qualified to break the glass in the fire alarm, either.

            And yes, that has been a winning argument against ridiculous overlegalistic workplace restrictions more than once. Most commonly h&s idiocies, but also chain of command bollocks like yours.

            1. Ian Johnston

              Re: Not an IT problem

              I'm no great fan of chains of command, but allowing any service department to issue orders to productive staff is a recipe for disaster. You'll almost certainly end up with contradictory instructions (IT says all desktop PCs to be left running overnight; Estates says all desktop PCs to be turned off overnight is one I've met). Nothing wrong with organisational policies but they need to be properly formed, not pulled out of the arse of a sysadmin who can't be bothered implementing efficient backups.

              1. Kiwi Silver badge

                Re: Not an IT problem

                I'm no great fan of chains of command, but allowing any service department to issue orders to productive staff is a recipe for disaster.

                I remember a discussion like that in a factory I worked at. As the only IT-wise person there I basically did all the IT work.

                One day the part-time office workers didn't like that the systems were shut down during a few hours of electrical instability (a time when they could be doing other jobs NOT needing computers), but one of them insisted on turning things on to do invoicing that he'd been told could wait (and it could, the job wasn't finished so he could only speculate at best). End result was a big loss of data (fortunately I was quietly keeping backups).

                His excuse for turning the machine on, resulting in a significant cost to the business? He didn't think I should be giving him instructions. He thought it quite reasonable an excuse, I'd given the instruction, he considered me junior to him, therefore the instruction was not only ignorable but he could outright refuse to follow it. (The boss and I did talk - in front of him - about how many weeks of OT I'd need to fix it, and how this idiot would be picking up the tab. Let him off the hook a while later, it was the start of the weekly backup cycle so no work was lost and having multiple backups meant I could re-build the system easily.

                Businesses depend on IT, and reasonable IT instructions shouldn't be ignored just because the person may not be in your CoC. A reasonable person would know this and know that the business success depends on people working together.

                (Yes, I did take regular backups (weekly incremental, monthly full, and a daily copy of the key data files to a disk that was supposed to be disconnected first thing in the morning and plugged back in last thing at night (machine could copy changed files then shut down) - no he didn't do that either)

              2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

                Re: Not an IT problem

                We have that rule. So I shut down the PC at end of day, then restart it. System updates get installed automatically mid morning though :-)

          3. bpfh Silver badge
            Headmaster

            Re: Not an IT problem

            At which point they bring out an organisational chart and say "Precisely where on here does it say you have authority to give me instructions?"

            The authority to give you IT instructions came with the computer that we supplied, and in the IT policy you signed. If you don't want to follow our instructions, we will take back your computer and it will all be on you to provide what you need. That includes your own computer, network, email and printing systems. Your mac address (but I don't have a Mac?) will not be added to our whitelist, you will not have access to corporate files and email, and you will have to explain to your boss in your lovely org chart why you have rejected the tools we provide to do your work, and it will be his decision to allow you to continue in such a way or terminate your contract. Now, maybe you would like to reconsider?

          4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Not an IT problem

            "At which point they bring out an organisational chart and say "Precisely where on here does it say you have authority to give me instructions?" You're a service department, not a layer of management, and if instructions are needed they should be sent by someone with authority to give them."

            That's why policy comes from the top, informed by the relevant departments. It's what senior manglement and/or the C-Suite is for.

          5. MonkeyCee Silver badge

            Re: Not an IT problem

            "At which point they bring out an organisational chart and say "Precisely where on here does it say you have authority to give me instructions?" "

            Typically the answer is "I have no authority to give you instructions. however, these are not my instructions, but the CEO/Board/Army/you boss's instructions, please take it up with them." if they start trying to boss me around, I point out that unless my box in the OC connects directly with theirs, they don't get to boss me around either.

            I've said it to a judge, who pretty much doesn't have a boss. Not so much "you will obey" more "if you don't follow these steps, we can't assist you when your email fucks up". Also pointed out he was violating the letter of the law, but that he was the expert on these things.

            Also said it a CEO, when he tried to skip the usual channels. Even got an apology for that one, written by his EA who was on leave that week, so he'd been allowed to handle his own correspondence :)

      2. Ian Johnston

        Re: Not an IT problem

        Every time a teacher in my local school logs in it takes seventeen minutes for the process to complete with network drives connected. The teachers move from room to room every 35 minutes on average. When IT spectacularly fails to meet user needs, IT departments should take responsibility.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Not an IT problem

          You can't teach a rock to swim...some people will never listen.

          You can, however, help them out with things like folder redirection. Telling people "Don't save on your desktop" is pretty daft when you can easily send that data to your file server seamlessly. It's harder to "accidentally" save stuff on C:\ when all these helpful tools are enabled. After that point, if someone is stupid enough to save locally you can rest easy knowing you did your best.

          1. Ian Johnston

            Re: Not an IT problem

            In my previous office, "My Documents" had been redirected to a network drive since sometime in the 90s. You really havet o work hard there to save to a local drive.

        2. MonkeyCee Silver badge

          Re: Not an IT problem

          @Ian agreed.

          While the issue is technically an IT failure, it's really a management failure. Probably starting with doing it on the cheap. Having done a spot of IT admin in K-13, you can solve it by either getting better servers, networking or technical staff.

          Often the tech lead is a teacher that kind of took over stuff, with very mixed results. Stupid long log on times (~3 minutes assuming your teaching staff and students are all logging off and on in the same 10 minute window) is clearly an issue with profiles. Mapped drives should be very quick on dedicated hardware.

          The staff logging issue is also solved by giving everyone their own device. Or the departments. Or both. Or having a local log in for the smartboard/projector desktop.

          There are so many ways of solving it, that the lack of accountability is the issue.

          Oh, and if it's a school in NZ, then your BOFH might even be one of the clowns who's IT estate I've had to dissect and rebuild.

    3. LDS Silver badge

      Mapped drives and disconnected laptops....

      The problem is when users use the laptop outside the network so they need the file even when the mapped drive doesn't exist. Roaming profiles are some kind of solution, as the user can keep on working when the mapped drive is not available, but at least changes are merged back automatically to the stored profile when the laptop reconnects to the domain.

      No excuse when a PC is a desktop and the drive is always available. Anyway, with folder redirection now you can try to solve such problem too.

      1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

        Re: Mapped drives and disconnected laptops....

        So why have an either/or when you can support both ?

        Leave the user saving their docs locally (or on the network if they can read) but have the login script start a sync of Their Documents to the network storage.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Mapped drives and disconnected laptops....

          My employer's solution is to use OneDrive for Business, with all user folders (desktop, My Documents, etc) redirected to subfolders. In theory, the local copy of the file is always available and automatically synced. In reality, being a Microsoft product, I get weird errors like "This file wasn't uploaded because the specified path wasn't found on the server." on an existing file I *just* opened...

          1. anothercynic Silver badge

            Re: Mapped drives and disconnected laptops....

            This is where I use Dropbox and park all my stuff in it, with a OneDrive folder parked in that, so that at least I know *I* will have a backup even if OneDrive goes and has a moment. Dropbox, to its credit, has not had any yet.

            1. Cederic Silver badge

              Re: Mapped drives and disconnected laptops....

              It's nice if you work somewhere that this isn't an automatic sacking offence.

              Well, assuming you're not breaking the law anyway.

              1. anothercynic Silver badge

                Re: Mapped drives and disconnected laptops....

                Well yes. Obviously. :-)

          2. TRT Silver badge

            Re: Mapped drives and disconnected laptops....

            And of course OneDrive is utterly useless for offline copies of websites edited using Dreamweaver.

        2. TRT Silver badge

          Re: Mapped drives and disconnected laptops....

          Logout script, surely.

      2. ChrisC

        Re: Mapped drives and disconnected laptops....

        "No excuse when a PC is a desktop and the drive is always available."

        You're assuming the networked drive *is* always available (which, given the number of single points of failure present between a users desktop PC and the networked drive, can't be guaranteed), and that if it is, the applications you're using won't then see a significant performance drop due to having their working files stored remotely vs locally. And also that the network itself is happy to have all this additional load placed on it vs the loading it'd see if users were working with locally stored files being regularly synced onto the network drive.

        Mandating that desktop users store all their files on a networked drive, with the local drive only being used to hold the OS, applications and genuinely throwaway temporary files, might work OK for some scenarios, but it's not a one size fits all answer IMO.

        1. Imhotep

          Re: Mapped drives and disconnected laptops....

          Our networked drives went down, and the notification on the outage reminded us that all files were to be saved to the network drives. Those drives continued to be unavailable for a couple of days.

          Having a laptop and traveling, I tended to make my own decisions on where files should go.

          But then, my diet tends to be eating crow and biting bullets.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Mapped drives and disconnected laptops....

            You do realise that Folder Redirection + Offline files gives you that best of both worlds?? My Docs becomes available offline and is also sync'd to your file server or OneDrive if you prefer. It does not have to be "Either / Or ".

            1. Imhotep

              Re: Mapped drives and disconnected laptops....

              True, but I can only refer you to my diet for my mindset.

            2. kmedcalf

              Re: Mapped drives and disconnected laptops....

              Yes Folder Redirection + Offline Files gives you the best of both worlds.

              It is both the slowest and the most unreliable method at the same time.

              It is fine for people who do nothing but play in PowerPoint all day such as PHB's and IT folks but useless for anyone who does actual work.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Mapped drives and disconnected laptops....

                The replacement for that is work folders.

                It is basically one drive but for internal use.

                You can use it with redirected folders, setup a work folder, redirect to the local work folder. Now you get the local copy and autosync to your file server.

              2. bpfh Silver badge

                Re: Mapped drives and disconnected laptops....

                Back in 2004, file synching via the Microsoft synched folders did wierd things, like wrong way sync or file corruption when something went wrong on the network/hard restart when synching a locally saved files, though the last time I played with this was in 2004 and was a major headache.

                Best way was to have the profiles loaded from a local file server on login, and ensure that you have a fast server and no network issues. Oh, and check the backups so you don't realise that your named IT contact at a remote site is not just pushing the same DAT tape into the drive every evening and not bothering to check the log for something like "Backup stopped after 00:00:02 seconds. Drive is dirty. Please insert tape cleaner and run cleaning cycle" every day from 2 months ago up to the day the corrupt accounts needed to be restored from the previous days backup...

                1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
                  Joke

                  Re: Mapped drives and disconnected laptops....

                  Isn't this already a solved problem? Can't you all just Microsoft Briefcase?

        2. LDS Silver badge

          "the applications you're using won't then see a significant performance drop"

          That was an era when most databases (dBase, Clipper, Paradox, FoxPro, Access...) run from a shared file somewhere.... just like in the pre-web era most shared data were available as shared files - even if the networks were slower. Most smallish file can hardly overload a 100Mb network, and even with a 10Mb one I don't remember big issues.

          It is true one size doesn't fit all - but unless you had a backup agent on every PC it was the simplest solution. Scripts too can fail - and like roaming profiles happen only at given times.

          Windows even introduced offline files, but that was a little minefield sometimes. Syncs, especially when different users can write to the same document, are complex.

    4. Caver_Dave
      Flame

      Been on the receiving end of that

      My middle daughter's 'A' level music course was full of brilliant musicians playing for County Youth Orchestras, Brass Bands, etc and most received 'A' and 'A*' in their academic subjects.

      When the whole course gets a 'U' grade and the school will not request a re-mark, you know that their work has not been submitted and there has been a cover-up by the school! The Head of Music did not return in the Autumn!

      Some of the children were permanently affected by the teachers lack of IT skills and inability to follow backup rules - the perceived problem. Luckily my daughter still had enough grades to get into her second choice university where she easily gained a First last year and was star of the Brass Band in the city. But the 'U' grade in 'A' level music will always live with her.

      1. Uk_Gadget

        Re: Been on the receiving end of that

        I had the same 40 years ago with my 'O' levels. Teachers had lost 12 months project wotk of mine relating to 40% of my History exam and man I loved History. Failed that and pretty much could not be bothered to return for the rest of the year. Could only do one thing and get a Job in IT...

        1. 's water music Silver badge

          Re: Been on the receiving end of that

          I loved History. Failed that and pretty much could not be bothered to return for the rest of the year. Could only do one thing and get a Job in IT.

          You could be due compensation

          1. stiine Silver badge
            Unhappy

            Re: Been on the receiving end of that

            For having to take a job in IT?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Been on the receiving end of that

          Come and work with us here at [REDACTED]. Most of our work is historical, bordering on archaeological.

          1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
            Trollface

            Re: Been on the receiving end of that

            @ 's water music - were you the one that called me the other day about a car accident that I was apparently in that wasn't my fault?

          2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

            Now you know ... being as you are the receiving end of IT and AI

            A great deal of work done here with El Reg is hysterical, bordering on the archetypal.

            You surely must have already seen lots of it as it passed you by. Fortunately though it loves to come back and gather future followers for true believers and IT Leading AI.

            Now that is an Almighty Open Source Virtual Gateway into AIRealised Future Programs rather than defaulting to Running Current Practically Inept Pogroms.

            And there y'all were, not thinking at all about what El Reg and El Regers have been busy doing with more time and every resource in Other Spaces/Operating Systems.

            1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

              Re: Now you know ... being as you are the receiving end of IT and AI

              "Hysterical, Bordering on the Archetypal" should be the On Call motto.

      2. Dave314159ggggdffsdds

        Re: Been on the receiving end of that

        Heh, my GCSE electronics teacher taught the wrong syllabus. No apology from the school. I topscored in my class despite being in with all the people doing 96 gcses so they could go to Oxbridge and Harvard at the same time or some such. That was because I looked at the past papers and noticed you could get an A just by drawing one picture the way they wanted, so focused on that. The guys who knew every word of every lesson got completely thrown by the different 20% and didn't spend enough time On the picture.

        At one time I was in line for a BSc in hydrodynamics, until they realised I wasn't a student on the course, and just did the final papers on exam technique to win a bet. Should have triggered an investigation, I would have had a Douglas just from the gimmes.

      3. swm Silver badge

        Re: Been on the receiving end of that

        In high school my English teacher lost my paper composition. You don't need a computer to lose files/documents.

        1. irrelevant

          Re: Been on the receiving end of that

          My parents were both teachers.. There were several tales of stacks of marking being left on the roofs of cars as other teachers drive home..

        2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

          Re: Been on the receiving end of that

          Were you at the same school as me? The only way I got a B in English Lang. was by the coursework mysteriously going missing, and us all being assessed on the final paper and the exam.

        3. Wenlocke

          Re: Been on the receiving end of that

          Our school had the best excuse for losing coursework. After the end of term but before the GCSE and A Level art work were due to be sent off to be graded, half the school got burnt down by some scrote. As I recall, they went by mock results for those subjects that year.

          1. Terry 6 Silver badge

            Re: Been on the receiving end of that

            Friend's daughter did DofE Gold at school. But the school lost her submission. She'd left and was at uni by the time she found out, so didn't get her Gold. All that effort wasted!

      4. keithpeter
        Windows

        Re: Been on the receiving end of that

        Glad things worked out OK sort of

        On the old GCSE Maths modular courses, there was an X code for a missing component on the full results line. That meant either didn't go to the exam or missing bit of coursework, and the other components would show actual grades or scores obtained.

        Might be worth trying to get the grades for each separate component of an exam if anyone finds themselves in this situation again.Will tell you what went wrong, and will show good scores for the other components which is a confidence boost to student.

        Most FE Colleges use upload to virtual learning environment or similar for plagiarism checking and to ensure backups and no modifications subsequent to deadline &c.

    5. big_D Silver badge

      Hats off to Phillippe! Oh I wish I could do the same

      I do do the same. :-D

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      and it had bit-locker or some other FDE I assume? or wasn't that necessary because data shouldn't have been stored on the laptop in the first place? and you wonder why IT are generally hated by normal people? you realise the default save location is local but sit behind your desk and say "well I sent emails about it, tough luck". this might have been okay in 1995 but it sure as hell aint now.

      1. defiler Silver badge

        Why not?

        Really?

        It's like saying you're not allowed to drive on the pavement. Sidewalk for them over there. If it's a bad thing and you're told not to do it repeatedly then why should people have to work around you because you ignored them? You thought it was okay because your car successfully mounted the kerb?

        What's missing from this story, of course, is whether or not the Office (or whatever) installer had been tweaked to set the default file location to the network drive. That's always a useful one. (Nowadays we redirect all the profile folders and hide the local drives, but that wasn't always the case.)

        If people are being stupid and ignorant despite all of your warnings, why should you make it your fault / problem?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "It's like saying you're not allowed to drive on the pavement. Sidewalk for them over there."

          The problem with this analogy is it assumes your audience can drive. The people that can't drive just shrug, assume it doesn't apply to them as they won't be driving and continue doing things as they were.

          Which is where the disconnect between IT and the business often happens. Having travelled for IT projects, it is often surprising how difficult to understand some e-mails from IT colleagues to all users are.

          If only there had been some way of finding out that the Z: drive for some users was empty and a more personal discussion about file management procedures may have been in order?

          While I have no issues with being a bastard, I do have an issue with being unable to appraise ones actions and show empathy for the users. Particularly if the issue is either your own communication with the users or difficulties with users being able to use the environment that you have forced upon them.

      2. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
        Flame

        How old are you?

        Bitlocker was only introduced in windows Vista (in 2007) so only widely used about a decade later than this story. Also by this point GPO policies could be applied that would wipe anything not stored on the server. That gets your users used to saving to remote servers pretty quickly.

        I take it you missed the part about this being before the windows ME days?

        1. Stevie Silver badge

          Re:I take it you missed the part about this being before the windows ME days?

          "this might have been okay in 1995 but it sure as hell aint now."

          I think the aggrieved commentor was reacting to the slew of "Right on, I do this!" responses.

          I agree with him. If your users are writing everything to My Documents there should be a policy and procedure to automatically move that stuff where the IT Crowd want it to be upon Log On.

          If it is a proper delta backup, the IT bods can still have fun explaining that the two hour sign-on will be a lot shorter if people just save to the network etc etc etc. Maintaining the bespoke system will also be a slot you can fit the departmental plodders into, an easy job that doesn't change much over time.

          IT departments that get reputations as unhelpful gits will eventually find themselves outsourced. Won't solve the users' problems, but will add a whole new level of pain for no real benefit.

          Think of it like the domestic electricity supply. You don't have to understand how three phase distribution networks work to use it, and you have to be willfully thick to make it dangerous. All the fixable stuff has been fixed for the uneducated masses needing to make toast or watch Come Dancing.

    7. short a sandwich

      An HR Job

      Time to let HR loose on her, nothing but a good scare will work now.

    8. Dabooka Silver badge
      Stop

      Many issues with this of course..

      but from the educational viewpoint, she shouldn't (couldn't?) be storing the '12 months of coursework on her laptop'.

      How is that feasible, would she be copying it over from the learners and destroying the original?

      Losing her feedback on submitted evidence I can believe being on there, but that must have been shared with the learners anyway, and if needed she can recreate that, and even then the internal (and external) requirements would mean that it has been verified by someone else at some stage too, again impractical to only have one copy on a standalone laptop.

      I'm not calling BS on the tale, just what she claims to have lost.

      1. teamonster

        Re: Many issues with this of course..

        I've worked in IT for 20 years. Never EVER underestimate entitled stupidity.

        I was working supporting Packard Bell computers sold through Dixon's Stores Group to the great unwashed British public when computers were just becoming popular. We were incensed one day to read an article in the computer press about how techs 'make up stories about stupid users' for their own amusement. CD coffee cup holders, foot pedal mice and unplugged computers were all just the equivalent of tall sea-faring tales for IT people. Nobody could REALLY be THAT stupid, right?

        Amongst a great amount of 'gnashing of teeth', each of us recounted our own collection of real stupidity to that would turn the hair of the journalist whiter than a sheet. I used to work with the guy who took the coffee cup holder call. The user was not apologetic or cowed when he found out what the CD tray really did, he was still effing and blinding and threatening to sue DSG and everyone in the call centre for his stupidity. I myself have been guilty of underestimating this as well. I had foolishly assumed that my work mate was the source of all cup-holder calls. I have since spoken to an American techy who has also taken one of these. The thought that there are probably many such calls in the history of IT support is a depressing thing to realise.

      2. Dabooka Silver badge

        Re: Many issues with this of course..

        I really don't get these down votes.

        Do some people not understand how these things work and simply decide otherwise when told? I'm perplexed.

    9. Slacker20012

      I've worked in IT in Education for 20 years or so, I *hate* these kind of users.

      You should pull her up on breach of GDPR....

      1. Stuart Castle

        Same here.

        Part of my job a few years ago involved lending out radio mics to staff for use in our lecture theatres. One day, we had an all day "meeting" in one of the lecture theatres that was essentially a compulsory series of lectures for all staff. I was the tech supporting the AV equipment. As the wireless mic in the room didn't didn't last all day on one set of batteries, we left a stock of batteries in each room that could be swapped in if the Mike failed. As we've learned not to trust users to do this, I was stationed in the room all day. At the end of one of the lectures, I walked up to the podium to swap out the batteries. I was told, in front of 200 people, by the lecturer to "Fuck off back to my seat".

        Thankfully, my boss was in the audience, and told me not to worry if the Mike failed, as the entire management team had witnessed me attempting to change the batteries.

        This user was, in my experience, one of these who shouted incredibly loudly and repeatedly at everyone if equipment he was using failed, for any reason.

  3. chivo243 Silver badge

    Walked a mile in his shoes

    and had the same exact thing happen. Except my unlucky (L)user was storing all his files in a folder on his desktop, against our stern warnings not to do so. I worked with this person numerous times, and told them each time this is "bad m'kay" move them to the P(personal) drive on the server... The HD crashed, we had to re-mage... That user didn't stay long after that.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Walked a mile in his shoes

      Move the folder to the personal drive and create a shortcut/symlink on the desktop. Slap the user on the back of the head. Voila - Problem solved !

      1. katrinab Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Walked a mile in his shoes

        In Windows 7 and later, you can move the desktop folder location to somewhere on the network.

        1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

          You can, but it is a tedious process of clicking the Properties and fiddling in the tabs.

          And it took from Windows 3.11 to Windows 7 for Microsoft to understand that such functionality was necessary.

          1. G2
            Facepalm

            @Pascal: nope, not at all.

            All you have to do to is:

            -use windows explorer (important because other file managers will not configure the appropriate registry entries in later steps)

            - in the location bar type %USERPROFILE% or just manually navigate to the actual folder that holds the Desktop, Documents and other stuff

            - use CTRL-CLICK to select multiple folders: Desktop, MyDocuments (or just Documents in newer OSs), Downloads, Music, Videos, Favorites, Pictures.

            IMPORTANT: do not touch 'Contacts' or 'Saved Searches', leave them in the default location or you'll get slowness bugs at logon or when searching.

            - with those folders selected, right-click on one of them and select CUT (yes, really, CUT. This will tell Windows Explorer that you want to MOVE them to a new location)

            - go to the destination drive, make sure you are not in the root of the drive but in a (preferably empty) folder like \Data\ or something, right click inside the folder and select PASTE. Click YES on any notification that appears about files named "desktop.ini".

            - after Windows Explorer finishes the move, LOGOFF and then login again. (or just reboot the sytem)

            - to check things, if you now make a new text document on desktop and check its properties, you'll see that it's stored in the new desktop location.

        2. defiler Silver badge

          Re: Walked a mile in his shoes

          With Group Policy you could do it with Windows 2000.

  4. nichomach

    Yep...

    We provide a batch file that does a backup of the stuff in users' documents/pictures/videos folders. They are told that anything important should go on the network (actually into our CMS). Do they use the former? Sometimes...but not often. Do they pay attention to the latter? Three guesses, but you'll only need one...

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: Yep...

      Three guesses, but you'll only need one...

      No, nay or never, which one is it? ;)

  5. Olivier2553 Silver badge

    User ignore email

    I don't really know the reason why, but users always ignore the emails about using IT tools. Until they are facing a problem, they will not apply the recommended procedures, unless they are forced to.

    We inform the new students at the beginning of each semester that downloading pirated movies will not be tolerated (for some time, I was the one making the presentation and I was very insistent on that point, like repeating myself five times with five different sentences, and once again when summarizing at the end). Then student would get a reminder email each month. Nonetheless for quite some time, we had two to five students get caught per week. It has almost disappeared since we involved Student Union to help spread the message.

    1. Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

      Re: User ignore email

      What you describe may be a classic "Everyone does it" syndrome. What sanction was applied to your students who got caught?

      Enlisting the Student Union presumably then broke that syndrome. Which suggests that that Union has credibility in your institution, and is good at communicating a message.

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: User ignore email

        Or maybe that getting banned by the Union means no more cheap beer in the Union bar. Much worse than a slap on the wrist from IT.

      2. Olivier2553 Silver badge

        Re: User ignore email

        What sanction was applied to your students who got caught?

        One week network suspension on first offence, one month on second, decision left on to the VP for academic affairs on third. We had 3 students so far who got sent to the VP.

    2. Oengus Silver badge

      Re: User ignore email

      At our office we send out regular e-mails from head office (off-shore) to educate users about Phishing and most seem to go unread. In Oz we hold face to face sessions to reinforce the e-mails. Once per quarter head-office will send a Phishing e-mail test. The number of people who fail to recognise the Phish is amazing. We get stats, broken up by region, showing the people who clicked the Phish vs those that reported the e-mail. The good news is that, in Oz, we have the highest reporting rate and lowest Phish rate of all regions.

      I think the face-to-face has more impact than the e-mails on their own. If I am in the office when the Phishing e-mails go out I get lots of people asking if the e-mail is suspicious. I ask what made them suspect the e-mail to see if the eductaion sessions are getting through and go back over the warning signs. Sometimes the personal touch is a more effective the way to go.

      1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: User ignore email

        My company does that, too. The Phoney Phishers are located in the UK, and a careful look at the headers indicates that their emails all come from the same IP.

        A simple Outlook rule diverts each carefully crafted phish into a special folder, so I don't need to think about them.

      2. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: User ignore email

        You might have your finger on one significant aspect. People no longer read all emails.

        "Routine" emails from IT just won't be read. Ditto Health and Safety notices, room changes (at one point bane of my life as participants of a meeting would be waiting somewhere, or time, else )and emails from annoying colleague who might well be right but is annoying. And probably a few other message sources too.

        Email saying "Sales Invoice problem," or some such and Bingo, it's open, see link, click.

        I do remember failing, some years ago, trying to get the brass to stop sending so many emails because of how it poisons the well. Did it work? Did it fuck!

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge
          Flame

          Re: User ignore email

          I should add to that list the fucking idiots who

          a) don't know the difference between "reply" and "reply all". I don't mean the odd accidental one. But the every fucking time ones. And

          b) the ones who have to respond " no" to every "anyone" email. As in "Can anyone cover my shift next Wednesday".

          And usually they're the same fucking idiot. So they do a reply all to the entire department to say no. Often with a long and meaningless explanation as to why they can't.

      3. Jr4162

        Re: User ignore email

        If education doesn't work, the users that click on phish emails need to have their email and its client moved to a locked down windows terminal server that will not allow malware to be installed.

        As one other person put it, you can't teach a rock to swim.

    3. Chloe Cresswell

      Re: User ignore email

      ASR once had the comment of:

      "*sigh* Oh, how I wish lusers could read documentation more than they read porn..."

      (and the reply...)

      ' That's IT! PORNOGRAPHIC DOCUMENTATION!

      "...and as she finally reached orgasm, she screamed 'the mail server will be down for three hours tonight! Yes! Oh, yes!'" ' ;)

      1. teacake

        Re: User ignore email

        Only useful for short announcements, though. No more than, oh, about seven minutes.

      2. Imhotep

        Re: User ignore email

        At one company, IT had monthly staff meetings, all of which seemed to have this reminder:

        "Once again, we track this sort of thing, and remind you that viewing pornography on work computers is a sackable offence." And we'd look around and see who was no longer there.

        We just never seemed to learn.

        1. teamonster

          Re: User ignore email

          I worked for a large flash drive maker in the mid 2000s and we had three people in a year sacked for watching porn on office computers. It was an open-plan cubicle office as well and managers and supervisors were constantly milling around. I have no idea what decision process these people go through.

          We also had 2 people fired for playing WoW on work computers. Jesus.

      3. Baldrickk Silver badge

        Re: User ignore email

        This is an old epiphany - for example, the manual for the Tiger I tank was filled with er... interesting imagery, to maintain the interest of the crews who would be operating it.

  6. Dave K Silver badge

    At a previous place of work many years ago, I managed to secure funding for a nice big disk array after I told the higher-ups that this would allow me to implement redirected folders. Telling them that all the various users could bung stuff onto their desktop or into My Documents as normal, yet it would actually end up on the array and hence would be backed up automatically was great.

    "So, even if people store stuff on their desktop, this device will mean that it's actually stored on our servers and can be backed up?"

    "Yep!"

    "That's brilliant! Here, have some money"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The budget holder must have been an IT manager or a unicorn, no bean counter would authorise that.

      1. Killfalcon Silver badge

        Depends if the beancounter had recently had to price up the impact of someone losing their work.

        1. stiine Silver badge
          Pint

          have a beer

          Because I can only upvote this comment once.

      2. Dave K Silver badge

        It was a university department that ran its own IT network. The approvers were mainly higher-level academic staff who thankfully understood the importance of the data. Some of our staff were working on multi-million pound grant applications. In comparison, £40k for a disk array was small potatoes really.

        1. 404 Silver badge

          Just out of curiosity, how big was that disk array? Trying to connect some memories here.

          1. Dave K Silver badge

            If memory serves, it was about 6TB once half-populated with disks. Like I say though, it was about 9-10 years ago...

  7. Tuesday Is Soylent Green Day

    My current organisation is like that

    My boss stores all of his work on his laptop. The inevitable happened. Now he has to convince our IT dept to somehow rescue his files from a dead drive. It maybe possible but probably won't be cheap. I have been telling him for 8 years to store his stuff on the server but no, he knows better......

    For years we stored valuable HD corporate video footage on a 2TB external hard drive because our IT dept couldn't be arsed to give us some server room to store the files. Eventually I had the CEO threaten them and all of a sudden 5TB or dedicated regularly backed up storage appeared for our dept overnight.

    Two things I hate the most is when nobody listens and when I end up being right because nobody listened.

    1. VinceH
      Pint

      Re: My current organisation is like that

      "Two things I hate the most is when nobody listens and when I end up being right because nobody listened."

      I'll drink to that - out of the sheer despair of it!

      And what's worse is when nobody listens, I end up being proven right, the affected party's finally take note of what I warned them about in the first place and behave accordingly, and eventually stop doing so because "effort".

      1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: My current organisation is like that

        Or more likely (from my experience) because you warned them in advance, you must be an expert on it so it's suddenly your responsibility to fix the mess they've made...

        1. 404 Silver badge

          Re: My current organisation is like that

          Oh goddamn that's true!

          Recently had to recover a hyper-v server with five VMs running on it that I warned the client about three years prior when the outside vendor dreamed up this nightmare - no backups, no redundancy, nothing.

          Took me 33 hours to get them back to a point where they could cut wood again - and THAT was after Dell & FedEx disappeared an $11k server I overnighted for FIVE DAYS...

          Now they want me to build a hyper-v cluster for them...

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: My current organisation is like that

          "you must be an expert on it so it's suddenly your responsibility to fix the mess they've made."

          Expertise costs money. Before clearing up their mess ask for their cost centre code because it'll have to be charged.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: My current organisation is like that

        "And what's worse is when nobody listens, I end up being proven right,..."

        ...and get the bollocking because someone else shitcanned the replacement project of a 7 year EOS system

    2. Imhotep

      Re: My current organisation is like that

      The CEO's EA had called the Help Desk because she was unable to save a file needed for a board meeting later that day. The problem was the was no room on the network drive to save the file.

      This was in the day of file servers with their own attached drives, and had been an ongoing problem for months - this in a large world wide corporation.

      She called the Help Desk, they told her to reboot the computer and - file gone.

      Without receiving the details, I was dispatched to take a look - more to receive the bollocking that should have gone to the Help Desk, rather than with the expectation that anything could actually be done.

      The file was unrecoverable, and shortly thereafter IT found the money to update that corporate server and drive.

    3. Jou (Mxyzptlk)

      Re: My current organisation is like that

      > Two things I hate the most is when nobody listens and when I end up being right because nobody listened.

      We share that pain. You described this so perfectly, you would deserve 100 thumbs up.

  8. A K Stiles
    Facepalm

    local storage

    I frequently use the local storage on my work machine, but I fully accept that it isn't backed up so the stuff on it is effectively a big 'tmp' drive. (The important stuff goes in the CMS or a network share - I'm not THAT crazy!).

    I sometimes have to deal with files that are over a GB in size and they really don't want or need to be on a network share.

    Recently our central IT changed some setting which has resulted in much more stuff being synchronised from the local drive to the network share. Queue massive network slowdown whilst a couple of TB of data from me and a few other similar colleagues gets hauled across the shared 100Base-T connection to the remote file server.

    At least they no longer map swap files to a network drive...

    1. Jou (Mxyzptlk)

      Re: local storage

      You are among the one digit percentage users who understand what they are doing. You are not normal.

      1. A K Stiles
        Thumb Up

        Re: local storage

        I am most certainly not normal!

  9. phuzz Silver badge

    I had this problem with a user, except with email archives. Many were the emails I sent out, instructing people on how to keep their archives somewhere they'd be backed up, I even offered to come round and do it for them if they wanted. Many ignored me, until one day, someone in marketing (always the worst for not listening I find) had an HD problem that corrupted their email archive.

    I took a look at it, and lo and behold Outlook was refusing to open the PST containing the files she needed, and all I could do was point out thatthis was why I'd been asking them to archive their emails properly.

    She promptly burst into tears (only time I've made someone at work cry I hope), but there wasn't much to be done.

    Until I spent most of the afternoon with a variety of PST recovery tools which finally managed to unbork it to the extent that Outlook would load the emails.

    Didn't get much of a thank you tho :(

    1. tip pc Bronze badge

      where you expecting some sort of happy ending?

      1. Solarflare

        One that would take 'long time'?

      2. phuzz Silver badge

        I wasn't expecting to be told off by my boss, because in my head I'd saved a user from their own incompetence.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      We're not ALLOWED to use email archives. I'm a permanent contractor based at a customer site. The customer has a 15-month autoenforced email retention policy. My employer has a 3-month autoenforced email retention policy. Hmm. My project is taking about 2 years, so where can I safely store my emails? (Answer: dragged one at a time from Outlook into a folder in Windows Explorer, and with the date inserted at the beginning of the filename.)

      1. Killfalcon Silver badge

        Surprised you're doing that manually. "save an email in [file-picker location] and name it [date]+[subject].msg" is pretty simple to do in VBA and like an hour of googling.

  10. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    Great story, despite the fact that for those of us of a certain age it is never good to have the words "Windows ME" sprung upon you early in the morning.

    I can fully sympathise with "Philippe". There were times when I would have liked to symlink the "My Documents" folder of certain users to /dev/null/ if the facility had existed in Windows

    1. Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change
      Boffin

      My recollection of the '90s was of Unix boxes with NFS-mounted $home. So "user knows better" wasn't an option.

      It was also the era of old-style ethernet connections, where removing one node would freeze the whole network (well, OK, by '98 that era was ending). On a roll with my work? Whoops, everything freezes, lost my train of thought.

      Wouldn't it be nice if there were some utility that would periodically (maybe we could call it cron) sync up a local drive with a network one (maybe call it rsync) to give users a best-of-both-worlds?

      1. l8gravely

        We *still* NFS mount user home directories and all data directories from NFS Netapp file servers. Rock solid boxes that cost $$$ but are worth it. Never keep data on local system drives, it just leads to pain. Now when the network craps out... all grinds to a halt, including the ESX cluster(s) which also use the Netapp for storage.

        1. No Yb

          Rock solid, unless the previous IT guy makes the mistake of putting all the drives in the same array with enough redundancy to handle 2 bad drives.

          Due to the nature of "MTBF" across 28 or so drives, we could count on approximately one or two drive failures per month, possibly stopping the whole array (and most work) until we could get another drive in. Rock solid, for soft sandstone values of rock.

      2. swampdog

        That what's cygwin is for. One place I worked at had us unix ops sat in front of windoze PC's locked down the same as normal folk. Nah mate. Pub 'o' clock? They're all gone. ntpassword cracker - cygwin. Not long after, we liberated an obsolete PC, stuck linux on it, hid it (as in full view with a post-it "do NOT turn off") and our jobs got a whole lot easier. We disabled telnet on all the unix boxes for a start. We gave that place security piecemeal and they never knew.

    2. GlenP Silver badge

      it is never good to have the words "Windows ME"

      ME was no problem, totally ignored it and didn't permit it on any machine. If any did sneak in they were immediately flattened and had 98 installed.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I worked with 2 ME machines. One was an absolute horror - would crash even when idle! The other ran flawlessly. The difference? The terrible one was ME upgraded from 98 upgraded from 95 (possible, but DON'T!), while the good one was a clean ME install.

        1. phuzz Silver badge

          I had a Win98 computer when I was a kid, and a little later I had a WinME one, and honestly the ME machine was very slightly more stable.

          If I had to guess, the ME machine probably just got lucky and had slightly better behaved hardware and drivers.

          As an OS they were basically interchangeable apart from the icons.

    3. phuzz Silver badge
      Gimp

      "I would have liked to symlink [...] if the facility had existed in Windows"

      Symlinks that work much the same as Linux have existed since Vista, and NTFS junction points (basically the same end result) have been around since 2000/XP. There's specific group policies (since XP) to move the user's folders onto a network share.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I think it was the nul: bit he was unaware of, not the linking mechanism.

      2. Mike007

        Full symlinks with unix functionality was from XP, with previous versions having a partial implementation.

        The problem was that explorer and other tools were ignorant of them, so a loop could lock up the machine and a delete operation would recurse... making it very easy to break things.

    4. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      Great story, despite the fact that for those of us of a certain age it is never good to have the words "Windows ME" sprung upon you early in the morning.

      It's probably not a very fashionable thing to say, but based on my experience with WinME, I never really saw why it got such a bad rap. I had it on a home machine that I built when that was the domestic OS de jour, and never found it to be any better or worse than 9x.

      Maybe I'm just one of the lucky ones.

      (come to think of it, I managed to completely avoid ever having to use a machine with Vista on it, so I guess that I am)

      1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

        ME was fine when it came preinstalled on new PCs (which of course had proper OEM ME drivers). I had such a beast, a Gateway Essential 800, which was my daily driver from 2001 to 2006 and never needed to be reinstalled, even after dual-booting for a while with an old version of Mandrake.

        It was when ME was forced to use 98 drivers that problems occurred.

      2. swampdog

        My Acer Aspire 5720 laptop came with Vista on it. It lasted 3 days before it got centos'd. It was months before I realised the fan no longer worked but a hacky firmware update partially fixed that. Darn thing still works. Linux mint now. Sits at the end of my bed as basically a "tv/audiobook". It's seen Vista/Centos/XP/2003 server/Win7/Mint. Never gets turned off but bugger me if last time I dragged it outside to plug into my car odb2 port the bugger lasted almost 20 minutes (original battery).

        Contrast that with my desktop PC. Mobo is packing up - hd access is on a par with ethernet. They don't make sh*t like they used to. :-(

        1. Kiwi Silver badge

          Contrast that with my desktop PC. Mobo is packing up - hd access is on a par with ethernet. They don't make sh*t like they used to. :-(

          Shit SATA cables. Doesn't matter if you brought a box of 100 for a buck of paid $100 for one. I've seen a lot of HDD issues resolved by a new (even an el cheapo!) SATA cable.

          Meanwhile, I have PATA cables that are decades old, been in and out of dozens of machines/drives, and still 100% reliable (at least when the mobo has a suitable header!)

    5. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
      Unhappy

      I'm pretty sure /dev/null/ is between some users ears

      <<goes away muttering about telling manglement about an impeding hard drive failure and then trying to recover data from said failed hard drive 1 week later while manglement scream "WE NEED THAT DATA"

    6. 404 Silver badge

      I managed to skip Windows ME - went from 98SE to Windows 2000 - thank jebus!

      I do remember all the screaming though lmao...

  11. Tigra 07 Silver badge
    Coat

    "one year, every month"

    Clearly OP is a time traveller... Which pocket has my sonic screwdriver?

    1. Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change
      Pint

      Yeah, I took that for a figure of speech :)

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        In IT support, often a month IS a year! (Or at least feels like it)

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A modern update

    We have a policy that clerly states that files should not be kept on the C: drive for any length of time. i.e. if you're out of the office and can't connect back it's ok but you must sync the files to the network when your return.

    User had a problem with his laptop, it wouldn't connect to the network drives. He chose not to report this and started saving all files on C. Then he clicks on a phish and the laptop gets hit by ransomware. Luckily for the business his network problems prevented any spread, unluckily for him he lost everything on the laptop.

    Unlike the OP I didn't laugh in his face and walk off.... he was subject to disciplinary action for breach of policy and loss of important data.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
      Trollface

      Ah, finally a happy ending.

    2. tfewster Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: A modern update

      That's a true BOFH - ensure the problem doesn't re-occur by removing the point of failure (the user).

      However, I have to say:

      - Did the Helldesk not re-remind the user to ensure all their files were copied to the network before the nuke & pave? Yes, they'd been told repeatedly, and the disk errors may have made it too late already, but it saves the inevitable fallout with Manglement. Unless "Philippe" really wanted to make a point...

      - Did "Philippe" not get an eye-wateringly expensive quote for data recovery to further illustrate the point? Chances are that a fresh install wouldn't have overwritten the space that had user data on it.

    3. PickledAardvark

      Re: A modern update

      I was called in to setup a new Mac PowerBook after the owner, a hospital doctor and researcher, had allowed the previous one to be stolen. His normally gruff assistant beamed with delight while she explained the disciplinary action he faced for losing sensitive patient data.

      In my experience, there are two sorts of doctor: Bright people who assume that they are good at everything, and really bright people who understand that they aren't an expert in every field.

      1. Tim99 Silver badge

        Re: A modern update

        Yes, medicos can be like that - Lawyers seem to be even worse.

        1. swampdog

          Re: A modern update

          Lawyers don't understand money. They just assume they can invoice for more. Earlier in the year I had to explain to a GP what the "VW diesel scandal was". This does exceed the abilities of at least one plod though, who after I had a motorcycle accident, could not grasp the concept of a sequential gearbox.

  13. DougS Silver badge

    Piss poor IT management

    How hard is it to insert a step before the "reformat drive" where the support dude he sent makes a quick copy of My Documents? You know not everyone is going to obey the edict, and the files will be lost if the disk completely fails, but a lot of the time they'll be recoverable and good support involves actually providing the best service to your users, not being a jerk and saying "told you so".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Piss poor IT management

      providing the best service to your users!!!

      ahahah not in this ivory tower. you will obey my rule!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Piss poor IT management

      If the computer won't boot, or the hard drive itself has problems (bad FAT, physical damage, etc.), how would you intend to copy My Documents? If it simply won't boot, you could pull the drive... oh, wait, full-drive encryption...

      1. Martin an gof Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: Piss poor IT management

        If the computer won't boot, or the hard drive itself has problems (bad FAT, physical damage, etc.), how would you intend to copy My Documents?

        By that count, how would you intend to reformat / reimage? Under those circumstances there's no way - short of specialist services if you are very lucky - to get the data back. The drive is disposed of and a new one fitted. However, in TOA,

        Philippe "sent a support dude who promptly reformatted her drive during the evening and reinstalled all for the next day.
        which implies that the drive was actually ok and with a little care, files could have been recovered.

        It's one thing to teach a user a gentle lesson, but real life means that outside of Simon's writings we shouldn't be vindictive.

        Like the time a user presented me with a non-working 3½" floppy disc containing the only copy of some (to her) important files. Turned out that not only had she spilled hot chocolate on the thing, but had then left it in the desk drawer for a week, drying out.

        One sacrificial case and a gentle wash under the kitchen tap later and IIRC I recovered all except one of those files. Gentle lesson taught (one file to recreate manually), genuine service rendered (my reputation enhanced) and, of course, six months later it's all forgotten :-/

        M.

        1. teamonster

          Re: Piss poor IT management

          This is assuming that the user will know to inform the IT guy that they haven't followed company policy. The IT bod will just turn up, maybe when the user is not there, and assume that they have followed protocol and all their data is safely up on the server.

          Also, if the user hasn't followed protocol, does the IT bod have the time or the resources to start data recovery on the drive? This at minimum would involve some kind of boot disk - assuming the drive was still working - and then trawling the drive for personal files in wherever location the user had decided to stash them. What if you don't find them all? Is the IT Dept then held liable for not recovering them?

          Once you teach users that not following instructions has no consequences, then you might as well not bother with any kind of IT policy. As has been illustrated elsewhere in this article's comments, even extreme catastrophe won't teach some of these morons the error of their ways. Lessons will not be learned and thanks will not be given. You are just making more work for yourself.

          1. Martin an gof Silver badge

            Re: Piss poor IT management

            Lessons will not be learned and thanks will not be given.

            I take your point, and I've never worked in a support role in an organisation large enough that I don't know each user quite well, but there is a dividing line - somewhere - between efficiency and following the rules, and vindictiveness, and in my limited experience many of these situations start out with a user popping up and uttering the immortal line "it's the only copy of that file and I need it for a meeting tomorrow", so you will already know or suspect that there isn't a network copy.

            Obviously there are complications if encryption is in place, but without that, simply slotting the old drive into a USB interface and firing up quick-and-easy tools such as PhotoRec, GParted or even SpinRite can recover quite a lot. dd first if you want to be extra safe.

            It is also my limited experience that the sort of user who still doesn't take notice of "best practice" after nearly losing files, won't change their ways even if they actually lose files. This is why (as others have pointed out) redirected home folders are a boon. They do have their own issues, but making as sure as possible that all data is kept on a network file server takes file security responsibility away from the user and plonks it firmly in the lap of IT, who should know what they are doing.

            In the meantime, even a small number of files recovered from a dying HDD (or USB stick or SD card) can turn someone's day from utter disaster to survivable. SD cards are a particular example as unless you own a high-end camera which takes two cards and mirrors them, or a clever camera / phone which automatically syncs to a cloud service (roaming data charges aside), most people will spend an entire holiday relying on their memories being kept safely in a small easily-damaged or lost sliver of plastic, metal and Silicon.

            M.

        2. DougS Silver badge

          Re: Piss poor IT management

          Like I said you can't recover them in all cases, but you should at least try. Not saying you need to go to great lengths, but when the support guy booted off a CD/network for the reinstall he should have at least tried to access My Documents, and if he was able to do so should have taken a few minutes to copy them off safely to the network or another drive.

          This "well I warned them many times so it is 100% their fault" is like if someone is changing lanes where your car is because they didn't look, and you refuse to hit your brakes or move out of the way and instead let them hit you. It is 100% their fault, and they will have to fix your car, so why not?

    3. not.known@this.address Bronze badge

      Re: Piss poor IT management

      DougS, if the hardware is dead then there is no way the "support dude (he) sent" can make a quick copy of anything.

      Stop making allowances for people who break the rules. Rules are there for a reason. This is why the world is in the state it is in - some rules exist to make the world as pleasant as possible for the greatest number and can be flouted with impunity but some - like the fact that you [I]cannot[/I] recover files from a broken HDD - are simply impossible to break, bend, coerce, persuade or get around just because you don't think it should apply to *you* (where 'you' is the User, not DougS necessarily).

      Sometimes the "best service to your users" is to enforce the rules and not keep allowing some people to ignore them - most people can do it, what makes the others so fricking special? It's a bit like "punishing" kids who steal cars by giving them free trips to theme parks and sending them to adult education classes in car maintenance (while the kids who *do* manage not to break the law get absolutely nothing and the adults on those courses have to pay for the lessons) - my school started doing this the year after I left because some bleeding heart idiot thought it would make the young criminals less likely to repeat their offences... Guess what? It didn't, and those "people" are still causing grief for everybody else.

    4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Piss poor IT management

      How hard is it to insert a step before the "reformat drive" where the support dude he sent makes a quick copy of My Documents?

      It depends on circumstances. If the user is screaming to get the PC back in action they're not going to be happy if you start booting up a recovery CD to get the files off.

    5. Jou (Mxyzptlk)

      Re: Piss poor IT management

      [ ] You read the article.

      [ ] You understand the concept of "disk errors".

      [X] You are exactly the type who causes such problems, and on top blaming others on your failure(s).

    6. teamonster

      Re: Piss poor IT management

      I have been in a situation where I have been a visiting tech at a remote office. I have walked in, set up and then and had to field local user complaints, as well as dealing with a variety of server issues that would take up a lot of time. I was the only tech guy at an office of about 100 people. If a user presented with "I can't follow basic instructions" I didn't have the time to do a search on their drive for all .doc and .xls files wherever they might have stashed them.

  14. Jenny with the Axe

    "Your backup routines suck!"

    Back in 1997 I was working helpdesk for an organisation where a lot of users still had Windows 3.11. One of them called in and asked us to do a restore of a document that she had stored on a network drive.

    I asked for the name of the document and the user wasn't sure. I asked when it was created, and the user told me:

    * User had created the document that day and worked on it for several hours, carefully saving it often.

    * Once User was finished, they closed it, They then decided to rename it

    * User clicked on the document in Windows Explorer and marked the entire filename, including the ".doc" extension. They wrote the new name and pressed Enter.

    * Then the file lost the "picture of the paper with the three little lines" . In other words, since User removed the ".doc" extension, Windows no longer associated it with a known file type and so the icon meaning "I know what this is" changed to a blank one (I think - like I said, this is more than 20 years ago).

    * User got scared and deleted the file. And then called asking me to restore it.

    The only problem was, even though we *did* do backups of files on network drives, those backups were made during the night... And documents on network drives did not end up in any Trash folder or had any other sort of recovery mechanism.

    The user was not happy.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Your backup routines suck!"

      I think you mean the user was not educated, and happiness doesn't matter. Also, that education would have been from you, in IT.

      1. swampdog

        Re: "Your backup routines suck!"

        I think it means a lot of people do this else M$ would not hide file extenders by default.

        Not that I agree with it. Bad training. The reader can bring to mind their own car analogy.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: "Your backup routines suck!"

        "I think you mean the user was not educated"

        Previously. After the event they were.

  15. ibmalone Silver badge

    Had the opposite problem when I started my PhD. I liked to listen to music while working and so, rather than keep lots of CDs in the lab and have to keep changing, gradually ripped them to ogg onto my desktop machine. Thought I'd be organised and put them in My Music on the computer. What I'd never encountered before, this being the first time I'd really used a machine on a domain and it being XP era, was roaming profiles. Sometime in the first couple of months someone had a word with my supervisor and then my supervisor had a word with me about GB of music on the network and backed-up...

    Somewhere I've still got two DVDs full of ogg vorbis that I burned later that week. Though in hindsight splitting them alphabetically by artist was a mistake.

    1. Jou (Mxyzptlk)

      Thumbs up for "first time ... roaming profiles"

  16. Stu_The_Jock

    Data ? Backup ? No need

    Previously had the "pleasure" to support PCs for a chain of pharmacies. All machines had a build in back-up system, which copied all patient prescriptions. Later model PCs had 2 hard drives, and the store manager was told clearly to run the daily backup from the desktop icon every day at close of business, and the weekly one friday evening or saturday. (Daily took 30 seconds, weekly about 10 minutes as ig made a full hard drive snapshot.)

    The usual call for a non-booting PC comes in on a Tuesday, drive had failed, no problem, we'll restore from Friday's image and then add in yesterday's data set.... Pharmacist looks slightly pale. Fire up recovery system, last weekly backup was from when we installed it 30 months earlier, not great, he'll just have to let al, the software updates since sort themselves out.

    Last daily backup, 24 months earlier.... he then has the choi e to write off 2 years of prescription data, or buy back the faulty drive to send off for data recovery at his own cost..

  17. Angry IT Monkey

    I worked at a place where several managers left their PCs on every Thursday night because they believed local drives were imaged to "the server" weekly.

    I never found this mystical server with enough space to hold a 1:1 copy of every local drive but I did put in an estimate to build one.

    My suspicion is someone high up had this hare-brained idea and the IT Mangler played along knowing it was less painful than explaining why it's ridiculous (sending that much traffic over a 100Mb network in a 24x7 operation for a start)

    You learn to image disks and for some "special" users you screenshot the desktop because if the icons are rearranged they complain it's broken and refuse to use it.

    Happy days!

    1. KittenHuffer

      That's when you move all their icons off their desktop, move the task bar to the top of the screen and set it to auto-hide, and then set their desktop image to the saved image of their original desktop!!!!!

    2. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
      Devil

      > You learn to image disks and for some "special" users you screenshot the desktop because if the icons are rearranged they complain it's broken and refuse to use it.

      Reminds me of the guy who got into a screaming rage because the new browser (version) didn't have the default font set to what he was used to: "IT IS BROKEN!" "I CANNOT WORK!" "JUST FIX IT!".

      I was tempted to superglue his face to the monitor.

    3. gnasher729 Silver badge

      How big are your local drives? If you have say 40 Macs for normal office use, £2,000 buys you a Mac Mini, three 14TB drives, giving you 1TB per Mac. Turn on Time Machine and everything is backed up all the time. Files a user lost a year ago and that you miss just now can be found.

  18. defiler Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Storing in the wrong place?

    Literally today I've had that old chestnut of <user's mailbox is getting full>, user requests more space, I take a quick look at his mailbox and 2/3 of it is in "Deleted Items"... I suggest emptying that, and am faced with the response that he's "keen to keep hold of his deleted items for now"...

    Fine - he has a cost centre, and I'll tell them the cost.

    Do I win a beer? Please?

    1. 404 Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Storing in the wrong place?

      Have a beer->

      Had a guy who used his Outlook as a file system - over a hundred folders and over 10GB of a .pst file - on Windows XP... and he wondered why his laptop was so slow to start up with Outlook being in his start folder...

    2. Kimo

      Re: Storing in the wrong place?

      I was once given the task of telling a list of users to clean out their inboxes before a major maintenance on an Outlook server. They estimated rebuilding the system after would take about 1 hour/gigabyte, with a handful of accounts nearing the 3GB storage limit. As I was not a senior position, most just told me "no" even knowing that we were looking at an extended email outage.

  19. steviebuk Silver badge

    Not me!

    "Let's face it, IT teams got pretty adept at the "nuke from orbit" approach with Windows – a skill that has stood them in good stead to this very day."

    I hate having to do that unless really is the only option. I'd prefer to find a fix. The best fix I found, which I keep spouting out, was back when laptops were freezing when going to network drives after login. Would last for about 5mins. Not every laptop user was being hit. Stupid solution from management was "Rebuild the laptop". But that took time, even a pre-built one, they'd still have to setup everything again like mail etc, they claimed "Its quicker than finding a solution". I argued to be given time to investigate but was told "No" which pissed me off no end. I'd quietly investigate myself for a few mins when I'd find one but really needed time to sit down and look properly. Eventually my manager, giving up with my constant asking was going on leave and finally had been hit with the same issue. She agreed for me to look at hers. Took me 30mins and I found a fix that took all of 1min, compared to the rebuild that took at least 1hr with encryption and about 30mins even if pre-built.

    You'd see explorer running at 50% in Task Manager which is shit. Use Process Explorer and you could see the same, but then you could see what .dlls were being loaded in the Treads section. And there it was, a .dll running at 50%. Kill that and the freeze stopped. What was it? Related to the encryption. Was it important? No, it appeared to be just a .dll that searched the network for encrypted documents so it could change the icon for them. We didn't encrypt individual documents so was pointless. Any machine that then had the issue I'd unregister the .dll, problem solved (thinking about it now, I could of requested 3rd line push it out in a group policy but never bothered).

    The one similar to the On Call story was at the NHS. A notoriously difficult director who, for some reason, I managed to get on OK with. One day I saw that she was saving ALL her files to her desktop. I warned her none of those were being backed up, you need to move them. I even created a folder for her so she could drag all the files to it later. Then I left for another outstation for a week. Came back for one day with it all kicking off. She had raised an angry call with IT over a deleted file she couldn't recover and was being a dick to the IT team that was based there. Then she saw me in the kitchen and I just smiled and said "I did warn you". She calmed down after that as she knew it was her own fault and IT weren't to blame.

  20. Daedalus Silver badge

    Comme d'habitude

    Seriously I saw no BOFH-ness here, just French-ness.

    But the true French response to "I've lost all my files" would have been le vieux shrug and a low-key "bfff!".

    1. Callown User

      Re: Comme d'habitude

      My reaction on reading the article reminded me of my days (years) as an European product manager for products and processes, each nationality had it's own funny ways, however the French developed a very unique way of working regardless of the pain they would suffer.

      PS in spite of this I still voted Remain !

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've had the reverse experience. In a previous job, I used to diligently save files to the shared drive on the server, as instructed by the IT dept.

    Then one day, the server RAID controller failed, and it turned out that the "regular backups" that the IT team had scheduled had not been working for the past several days either, so I lost several days work.

    The IT guy just shrugged and said there was nothing he could do. Meanwhile, the people who had ignored the instruction to save files to the server carried on working on their local hard drives as if nothing had happened.....

    These days, I make my own backups of vital data.

  22. ma1010 Silver badge

    Sometimes they can learn

    Back in the early 90's, before our company had a network at all, I had a boss who loved to save everything on floppies because she moved between work and home computers. I told her she should save on the HD and copy to floppy for backup/transport, but she didn't listen and kept saving to floppies. Then one day she had a 400 page critical file she was working on refuse to open in WordPerfect.

    I fired up some of the good old-time Norton Utilities and managed to get it to open in WP, losing only about 3 pages or so. I repeated my advice about using the HD as her primary save location and using floppies for backup/transport. She listened that time.

  23. Lopan

    I had a similar thing happen. The boss of one of the other departments was told to backup your files on a "z" drive and a external drive and was told multiple times how to. Didn't and lost everything. Told my boss about it and he asked how much to send out the drive to be recovered. Told him and he turned white. No recovery.She hated my guts but couldn't complain. Idiots happen everywhere. I retired after she left.

    1. G7mzh

      We had a few customers like that. When they found out how much it would cost to recover, somehow their data always became less important!

  24. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
    Alert

    Flash Back Or Dormouse Corner

    A earlier story retold.....

    ..the top dog legal secretary, had her desktop completely (Literally not a inch of desktop real estate, with folders as close as they could be without being dragged\dropped into its neighbour) filled with folder of every single contract that was ongoing or kept for legacy\retrieval.

    A single HDD failure would have effectively wiped out this former subsidary company of Brutish Gasoline, ohhh boy she really didn't like hearing that & refused the new hardware possibly over the time it would take to copy everything to the network & then create nice shortcuts on her desktop because "I" might lose everything.

    Even earlier in Zummerset County Council:

    1: Delivering a reimaged laptop back to user.

    "I'm terribly sorry but your old HD was toast & we were unable to recover the data."

    "All the stuff I was working on for 9 months is gone:"

    "I'm afraid so."

    "You got it all back last time."

    "On that occasion you were lucky & you would have been reminded about the importance of backups just in case you hadn't realised that for yourself."

    "You stay here....You can explain why you have lost my data to my boss."

    I had other calls elsewhere across the region & used discretion as the better part of cowardice. With hindsight perhaps I should have stayed, enjoyed as I explained all to the Ladies boss.

    2: The time I forgot\missed the migration of a PST to a new machine...customer signed off as all good. On the sixth day she noticed (Outside the grace period) but could we find the machine in the piles upon piles of machines we were wiping for disposal - Nope.

    My chain of events, l dropped off the machine from site, went to lunch, came back business as normal.

    The chain of events, dropped off the machine from site, went to lunch, sleepy Geoff AKA "Dormouse" decided he would quite like a desktop machine on his desk for his browsing & ticket updates, picked up machine, reimaged & used it in his little corner.

    We found alas it too late for the PST, but were able to cite the 5 day grace period in our defence.

  25. G7mzh

    Where I used to work, every employee had their own storage area on the network, mapped as "Drive N:" on their PCs. It also had a shared directory used for things like software updates, so people couid run the update when they weren't otherwise busy.

    Despite it being frequently mentioned, I think only two or three of us actually used it for personal data.

  26. jelabarre59 Silver badge

    Cloud vs floppy

    At least at our job we have a SpiderOak setup that does a regularly-scheduled backup of files on the laptop. We're not talking beginning/end of the day here, more like some number of minutes. Of course, I'm paranoid enough that some projects are kept in Git or even Google Drive.

    This is in contrast to a law office I used to do side-work for. They had heard about the risks of hard-drive crashes (this was the early-mid 1990's mind you) so they would keep their files on floppies instead... Yeah. I kept pushing them to set up a proper file server with regular backup instead. Eventually I moved out of the area, so I don't know if they ever followed through.

  27. Tom 35 Silver badge

    Work from home sales - BYOD

    Stored all his docs in folders on his desktop.

    Deleted all the files because the drive was full

    Ran defrag because it was still slow.

    Discovered he NEEDED those files. Came into the office so I could un-delete them LOL. Told him no, maybe the CIA could recover them, but not me. Told the sales manager the same thing. I think he asked everyone in the office, it was his idea to do no control BYOD to save money after all.

  28. OzBob

    Er, happened to me last month

    when my fellow techs reformatted my "thick client" and assured me "my documents" was backed up to the network share. Sure it was, but they must have selected the "resync from scratch" option on the build because it wiped everything I had. And we did not have backups. Now I have a separate Drive Mapping I use for storing documents (plus a wiki I have created for all my documentation). This would never happen on my linux systems.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Er, happened to me last month

      "This would never happen on my linux systems."

      It depends what you're using. The Next/OpenCloud client has that as an option.

      Which reminds me, I must get more of my directories synced.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Er, happened to me last month

        Just coming back to say that sync a reasonably deep directory and you'll discover that Microsoft are rank amateurs in interesting completion predictions.

    2. Jou (Mxyzptlk)

      Re: Er, happened to me last month

      > This would never happen on my linux systems.

      Don't worry, bad administration can kill everything. You can keep on saying "this would have never happened with <your religion OS>" until it happens. And it does happen. With every OS. No exception. Why? It is a human failure, not OS failure.

  29. swampdog

    bitlocker

    Lost data to that a few times. Win7 boots up - not - asking for key. Nobody knows it, except one place where we were given a two page A4 print out of keys. "It'll be one of those".

    1. Jou (Mxyzptlk)

      Re: bitlocker

      That is when Active Directory controlled Bitlocker comes in handy. Recovery information stored there, if done correctly.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: bitlocker

      But the printout includes the drive ID which is visible on the recovery key enter screen?

  30. Swampie

    Back up of encrypted folder

    Had a VP keep all kinds of important files in an encrypted folder on his desktop... and I added that folder on the back up files list for his comp name. Sure enough, hard drive probs later tanked his drive... I go and swap out his hard drive with a new one; add the corp image, a few specialty apps... and restore his different backed up folders! Oops, wait, where are the contents of that encrypted folder? I had the name, the folder got put back... but empty.

    Turns out, the back up program didn't read/ work with encrypted folders; and never dived into the folder itself and back up the contents. One mad VP and a major talking to by the IT manager... however, savings grace was that the encryption software was personal, not authorized, not supported by the list of "Good" programs, and against policy to be on a comp/ used in the corp IT environment. So I won the battle but lost the future. Moved on 4-5 months later.

    1. psychonaut

      Re: Back up of encrypted folder

      I use true crypt container for customer stuff. Had an issue where carbonite made 1 copy of the file and then never backed it up again. Because the file was a fixed size and same name and time stamp the same it never changed as far as the carbonite backup was concerned. There is an option in true crypt which I cant remember exactly what but it's to do with the timestamp on the file..set it to change rather than not change or similar. Once changed carbonite see's the file as changed and starts doing versions backups again. Fortunately i caught this before anything bad happened. One to watch out for...might not just be carbonite that does this.

  31. earl grey Silver badge
    Mushroom

    arsebarstards

    A prior employer in a land far, far away (not nearly far enough).

    Had an old desktop with PST files and kept my own backups. Company decided that OSTs were the way to go and i told and arseholes to NOT copy my backups when they created the OST file. They did; doubling the entries, doubling the problems, doubling their calls to resolve the shite not working right. I eventually manually deleted some of the doubled up files, but gave up wasting my time on it and just let them resolve the issues. Since the last computer was supposed to be backed up in their central suppository, i applied for space allocation and was told "none available right now" and they never did. I always kept my own backup of anything important i needed.

    stories from 20 years ago - mostly bad memories.

    1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
      Coffee/keyboard

      Re: arsebarstards

      > ... backed up in their central suppository, ...

      I think I have seen such backups but prefer not to recall the details.

      1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

        Re: arsebarstards

        The backup's not too bad but the retrieval on the other hand. . .

  32. Toby Poynder
    Thumb Down

    What an unpleasant display of smugness here

    It may well seem very obvious to anyone who reads The Register why it is foolish to save your files locally, but some people - who may be vastly talented in other areas - find it difficult to understand concepts like mapped drives and local disks no matter how many explanations or threats are offered. Phillipe and his assistant need to grow up and understand that IT support involves people as well as computers. As for all this "well they disobeyed company policiy so they deserve everything they get" attitude - have you any idea how priggish that sounds?

    tldr; we are none of us perfect, get off your moral high horse and show some compassion.

    1. psychonaut

      Re: What an unpleasant display of smugness here

      Sadly these kind of people are most often the kind who dont listen, treat it people like minions/ shit, think they know better and have no respect. Schadenfreude when it all goes tits for them? Too bloody right! It's to do with attitude. I will go out of my way to help people that are respectfull , in fact anyone now that treats me like crap can be someone else's problem

      1. teamonster

        Re: What an unpleasant display of smugness here

        This, one thousand times.

        Why are we coddling people who won't follow the rules that ensure that their stuff is kept safe? Nobody has time to go surfing in hard drives to find whatever files have been squirrelled away wherever. On top of all that, these people aren't apologetic at all. The fault of their loss is always someone elses. Someone else who receives a ton of abuse for their troubles. We are supposed to stay late, miss deadlines and endure screaming fits for these people?

        What happens when YOUR project is put on hold while the IT guy is busy trying to retrieve data off the numpties hard drive? There is small number of IT staff and they are now trying to fix problems that shouldn't exist and everybody else who followed the rules have to wait while we sort out the problem children who can't behave.

        No no no no no!

        1. psychonaut

          Re: What an unpleasant display of smugness here

          "Nobody has time to go surfing in hard drives to find whatever files have been squirrelled away wherever."

          "We are supposed to stay late, miss deadlines and endure screaming fits for these people?"

          to be fair, i do, but as i work for myself i charge a decent amount of money for it, so its not too bad for me. if i was on salary it might be different though.

          i still dont put up with arseholes though, a policy i put in place many years ago. i have a few i still need to get rid of, but the time will come....oh yes, i am looking forward to that day.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: What an unpleasant display of smugness here

      "who may be vastly talented in other areas"

      See this folder here? This is where all files get stored. Don't put them anywhere else. That's the official policy. Now, how hard was that?

      I absolutely understand where you are coming from. I've had to work with some brilliant academics who can't even tie their own shoe laces and panic when they come back from summer break and find their desktop looks different because Windows has been upgraded, or maybe something as simple as an app upgrade changed the default launch icon. Despite being told before summer that this was going to happen, complete with screen shots. But at least they can follow procedure once it's been explained to them.

  33. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Back in the days before the PC if a business didn't have a mainframe (most of them) there would be well established manual procedures for handling documents. In particular there would be trained secretaries and filing clerks. Part of starting a new job would be to learn what the procedures were to follow. For instance when I started in the lab I'd be shown how case files were started at reception, why we used duplicate lab notebooks with the top copies going into the case files and case files and typed up reports going back to reception to be filed.

    We now have a situation where "the computer" is expected to take over a lot of that handling. But the business-wide manual procedures haven't been replaced by ones suitable for the new environment. Part of the problem might be that a lot of what the secretarial or clerical staff did has fallen to those who those staff used to support. Part of it might be that older secretarial staff who were trained in a pre-PC world haven't been retrained or that training hasn't kept pace with IT facilities. Part may be that such practices as are in place are heavily influenced by the days of stand-alone PCs. And a huge chunk of it is that "the computer" simply doesn't do that job on its own.

    It should be up to the business as a whole to decide and tell new staff "how we do things here". Obviously it's going to involve IT to ensure that what users are instructed to do works with backup procedures etc. That's part of the deciding by the business as a whole; IT is part of the whole business (What? You've outsourced it? Now you really have a problem because a big IT-shaped part of your business is missing.). But because it's how we, the business, do things it's not IT telling people what to do.

    The deciding is going to have to involve senior people, those who traditionally had the support of the secretarial staff because the "we" in "how we do things here" is going to have to include them. The VP and the legal secretary of earlier comments who kept stuff on their desktops would previously have had somebody else to do their filing; now they have to use whatever's provided to do it themselves.

    1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      And also part of it is that business just sit somebody down in front of a computer and expect that new user to somehow automatically know what the company's data policy is. "But they all get taught 'computers' at school, why should we have to train them?" Yeah, just like they all got taught "writing" at school, but you still had to teach them *which* memopad to use for what job, what department does what, what form to use for ordering what goods. If *YOU* don't teach your new employees that, eg, their home directory is H:, the actuarial applications are in G:, the company policy documents are in S: and are read-only. It's like saying 'ee's got a driving license, why should we tell 'im how to use the fork-lift?

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Yep, this is it. There is little to no training given to new hires. I blame a lot of it on the business management for cutting training budgets, a lot, like you say, because there's an attitude of "they learned computers at school and should know", but in some cases it's down to the interview process and the fear of the applicant that they won'rtget the job if they don't BS their way through it. Job interviews are highly competitive, or at least perceived that way, so the applicant feels they must show absolute confidence in themselves and not ask too many questions. This can lead to a false sense of competence by the employer who doesn't think this person needs to be shown the basics of "how things work here."

        1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

          I last used Active Directory in Windows 7, and only briefly. Today I was plonked in front of some Windows 10 admin and told "move X, Y and Z to A, B and C, and set Q, R and S for each user".

          I was mentally screaming "arrrghhh!!" 90% of my user admin experience is vi /etc/passwd ;) I couldn't even remember the command to run the GUI. Some careful prodding and exploration and avoiding any OK buttons, and I'm sure I'm an Active Directory expert now. :D But the serious point is that at no point was I told "our setup is to have the computers in Organisation->Department->Desktop or Organisation->Department->Laptop, the naming scheme is <prefix><blah><asset>, this group of users need to be in this group, that group in that group...." The assumption was "you know how to do user admin, that means you know how *we* do *our* user admin". And there's a blind spot in that so many people don't even notice that that's an issue.

  34. Blackjack

    Eh, ever head of shortcuts?

    In Windows 98, you could create a shortcut, rename it and change the icon. Then just hide the My documents folders and place the fake shortcut on the desktop.

    Of course doing that to all the computers would have been too much hard work because you would also have to trick Excel and Word to save on that Z drive by default.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Eh, ever head of shortcuts?

      In Windows 98, you could create a shortcut, rename it and change the icon. Then just hide the My documents folders and place the fake shortcut on the desktop.

      That works until they leave the office because it sounds like there's no VPN.

  35. This post has been deleted by its author

  36. Vetis

    Maybe the user should listen but you knew they didn't, so its up to your staff to make sure the documents are backed up before wiping.

  37. Unicornpiss Silver badge
    Pint

    What was I doing 20 years ago?

    20 years ago computers were a hobby and I was in the last year or so of my former career as the harried manager of a busy restaurant. As a restaurant manager, there is always something on the horizon to dread, whether it's an inspection, half your crew leaving to go back to school, some huge catering event, drama with customers or employees, or some nameless thing that will surprise you with the efficiency and subtlety of how it utterly screws your day. Ultimately, there really was no better training for an IT career if you look at it that way and from the standpoint of intensity.

    Going back to IT, I had a user that had been ignoring the "SMART" warning that his hard drive had one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel for a week or more, had never backed up his data, and was a general pain in the ass to boot. (there's always a few of them) Inevitably, the drive failed and the machine landed on my desk. I spent several hours trying every trick I knew to get his data back, to no avail. Because what he did was so "vitally important", he managed to persuade his manager to shell out the >$2,500 for data recovery. Upon getting the recovery media back, I took a look at what was recovered. About 30 gigs of personal photos, music, and other personal docs like his tax returns, and maybe about 100MB of spreadsheets, PowerPoints and the like, most of which had dates older than a year. In other words, nothing especially business-critical as far as I could see without delving into it. Maybe one or two relevant spreadsheets that he could have recreated easily in the time it took the recovery company to process his drive. (and which he probably had to anyway) Overall, time and money well spent. Beer icon because we all deserve one.

  38. KegRaider

    They still don't listen

    I have been a sysadmin for the best part of 3 decades, and the Lusers seem to have an ability to block out what we say. Either that or email rules that delete all important system notification about to affect them.

    I just don't care anymore, ignorance on their part = ignorance on my part. I send the messages, schedule the outages. Notifications go out frequently. If they forget, tough titties

  39. Kimo

    Academics with laptops are the worst offenders. Had a boss about that time get a nasty file-corrupting virus with over three years worth of work on an un-backed up laptop. I spent three days on it (OK, half a day finding a tool to dredge through the disc, 20 minutes to start it up, another day of actually salvaging files, and the rest of the time spent explaining back up resources that they were ignoring).

  40. Wexford

    Mid 90s and I managed a set of uni computer labs with student home directories mapped to H:, but also accessble via authenticated FTP ostensibly for off-campus access.

    One day a student, then two, then a horde reported losing their files on the due date of an assignment - "it was there one minute, then it was 0 bytes". I had a look, confirmed the reports, and set about diagnosing potential Samba and/or PC-NFS problems. Couldn't find anything wrong, and the reports kept coming in. I asked a student for a copy of their assignment guide so I could try and replicate the problem.

    Step 1: Save your work in H: (ok good advice)

    Step 2: When ready to submit your assignment, open the WS-FTP application and log in (huh? Why would they need to do this)

    Step 3: Drag your assignment file from H: into the WS-FTP window to upload your assignment (NO DON'T PLEASE DON'T)

    Sure enough, as soon as the FTP daemon would open the target file for writing, being the same file it was reading from, it would effectively delete their work.

    I sent an urgent email to the student distro list for that unit telling them NOT to do steps 2 and 3; saving it in H: was sufficient as a submission. Suddenly the lecturer bursts into my office and demands I retract and issue a public apology for my defamatory email and that I would be hearing from his lawyers if I did not. I refused on grounds of, y'know, it was correct, despite pleading from my boss to do so "just to calm the waters, yes I know he's wrong". I continued to refuse, with increasing gleefulness, in the face of continuing threats until the boss eventuall apologised "on my behalf" much to my annoyance.

    Said lecturer also ran a small unit of Masters students who mysteriously received the same mark for an assignment. His head of school asked me to investigate, whereupon I discovered that the assignment files hadn't even been collected for marking. The lecturer (was) departed very shortly afterwards with many whisperings of academic misconduct circling, much to my pleasure.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Meanwhile, in a huge corporation that should know better

    It's 2019, and:

    - There's no per user network directory to store files to.

    - There's no per user network directory to backup files onto.

    - Encrypted hard drives only got rolled with Windows 10.

    Isn't it great what an almost monopoly position in a low-competition sector can do?

    1. Jou (Mxyzptlk)

      Re: Meanwhile, in a huge corporation that should know better

      Maybe the company got annoyed by the trash the users stored and gave out instructions that personal usage and personal files are strictly forbidden. Therefore there is no need for "per user" anything.

      Just guessing since I've seen things like that.

  42. FelinaErse

    Data is the life blood of many. Unfortunately, many could care less. Ultimately, the responsibility of safe data keeping is with the end user. I have trained myself no to snicker when a self-serving know-it-all loses data. Oh, but if they could read my mind they would see a laughing party in my head. Oh well

  43. JoMe

    Rolling out Unified Messaging...

    Same sort of thing. Spent weeks meeting with managers, explaining the service and what it meant to their voicemail, sent no less than 5 separate emails - introducing the service, inviting users to different training sessions, then 2 more emails reminding them to watch out for the pin, what it would look like in their mailbox, how to use it, etc. (even though this is covered in the welcome email sent by exchange).

    Fast forward to rollout. No less than 500 frantic tickets (this was an office with around 550 people at the time) demanding to know what happened to their voicemails, and why they couldn't log in.

    A particularly memorable situation among the bulk of users ensued.

    IT: "Did you follow the email instructions?"

    User: "What instructions? I got nothing"

    IT: <clickety>

    IT: "The 7 total emails we sent out that are in your deleted items folder, along with the welcome message - also in your deleted items"

    User: "Uh, oh I thought it was just some nonsense email"

    IT: "And when your manager told you about it in your weekly meetings?"

    User: "Uh..."

    Yep. Welcome to the unwashed masses that delete IT messages then blame IT for being confused!

  44. Medical Cynic

    A decent "Standard Image" for re-installation should point ALL the likely user file locations to the network drive. Ed Downloads, My documents,Desktop etc. Then everyone would be happy! The user need neither know nor care where the files are stored.

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