I Should Know Better by Now

Like an alcoholic seeking a drink, I thought that I would buy software to automate and save time in making backups of whatever I’m working on and have saved. I made a careful search for well-recommended software and discovered that Novastor Backup 10, Professional, for a single user, was highly recommended.

What a mistake! My attempt at downloading what I had bought failed. I eventually got a very nice young man from Novastor’s tech support to assist me with the installation. He had to download a number of upgrades, patches or whatever, from Microsoft, making it clear to me (and perhaps even to him) that I could never have achieved a successful download by myself.

Having installed the programme, I thought, “Let’s see if it works!”. Of course, it didn’t; why on earth would I even have dreamed that it would? The manual, some 130+ pages is, at least for me, spectacularly useless. First, it has no index. Maybe techies don’t believe in indexes but they are not just useful but essential if one is going to be able to use a technical book. Second, while I could find a picture of the screen I faced, no indication was given of what one does with it; the following page didn’t refer to anything on the screen. There was no step-by-step-leading-by-the-hand guidance. If the product is only going to be sold to those who don’t need a manual, shouldn’t those of us who do be warned?

In any case, the programme seemed to work (after I had struggled through mysterious menus and, of course, getting no guidance from the manual) but it was case of, “the lights are on but no one’s at home”, or “sound and fury, signifying nothing”. The files that I had, I thought, instructed the programme to backup were nowhere to be found and what I had thought was the destination folder was completely empty; as empty as it was before I started. I tried it again but again, nothing.

I shall now do what I had been doing ever since I left DOS 6.0 (where I had a neat backup utility that actually worked) and backup, so to speak, by hand and reflect ruefully on my wasted money and time. Am I living under some kind of software curse? Did my statement that I loathe Microsoft—and I really do and I can give anyone who wants a list of my reasons—land me on some black-list where I am condemned forever to be frustrated by software, especially software that I have bought, that won’t work? Should I perform some penance or am I just a horrible warning?


  1. I understand your pain.

    The entire backup process is terrible. I have consulted for many clients on it over the years all with pains. What I find most intriguing is that most people don’t actually know if their backup will work — they have never fully tested it. Sure they have moved some data to tape or disk and moved it back, but they have never actually taken an online system and tried to do a full restore, nor do they do it regularly to test. I had one client who had a tape and a log of the backup but couldn’t find any data on the tape, yet the log said it was there. Turns out the write head had been malfunctioning on his tape drive for over a year. He didn’t run the verify process because there wasn’t enough time. Lost a lot of data.

    Another client had regular backups and although they didn’t loose any data, they were under the impression they could restore the entire server in a few hours. Although they were successfully brought back online, it took a day to rebuild the operating system, and another day to re-install and configure all the applications, changed drivers, hardware, etc. before they could be brought back online.

    Even large companies don’t think this stuff through for the most part I’m afraid.

  2. I agree that so many manuals for our technology are “spectacularly useless” (what a great phrase!). So little effort is used in creating them, if they exist at all. When the software is updated the manuals rarely reflect the changes.

    The application creators assume you know enough to seek out the website, know how to search through their help files, FAQs, blog posts, and user forums which, of course, all work differently than anyone else’s and require one or two passwords to access. After spending an hour or two searching for what you want without luck, you send a message to the help email address and are lucky to get something more than an automated message back in any useful time frame.

    Ah yes, technology! Can’t live with it, can’t live without it.

    I consider myself relatively savvy with technology and, after bashing my head against the wall, wonder how others are coping?

  3. After my post bemoaning the bad experience I had had with the NovaSTOR backup programme I had purchased, I was contacted by the managing partner of the manufacturer—Slaw goes everywhere!—who offered to help me with my problems or to give me my money back. The nice young man who had originally helped me with the installation of the programme then helped me in getting it to work and explained what I needed to know. It was as simple, once I knew what to do, as had been advertised. What was particularly comforting was to be told that I had not been alone in encountering problems.

    All’s well that ends well.