My Night at J&R

Stopped by J & R this evening to pick up a new camera lens for my Digital Rebel and while wandering through the computer department I ran into a near encounter of what Rob Rosenberger calls "False Authority Syndrome".

A sales man was selling a young lady a new hard drive. She told him that she currently had 100 Gigs of data. That was all the information she gave him. His response was, "Good we have an internal 200 Gig drive on sale. Backups are important, because hard drives fail. You can partition this into 2 100 Gig partitions and backup the data onto the other partition so if the drive fails you have another copy. Installation is simple..". Are you as flabbergasted as I am? OK, lets break this down and count the things that are wrong with that statement:

1) You have just sold someone who couldn't pick out her own hard drive an internal, which requires that she has to crack her case, do the install. Additionally you never verified whether she had SATA or EIDE. A desktop or a laptop? Once she's done with the installing the hardware you're expecting to figure out how to partition a drive, an option that's well hidden in the depths of the WIndows XP computer management..

2) If she follows his advice and partitions the drive, considering the over head for partitions tabels, the filesystem, and "hard drive math", best case scenario she would have filled the partition. As the 100 Gigs of data was a guess (really, who has such 100 Gigs of data, and not 99 Gigs or 101 Gigs), odds are she will not have enough disk space for her files.

3) He gave her no instructions on how to do the backup.

4) The backup is on the same machine. If something goes wrong with the computer she'll need to go ahead and pull that drive out and mount in another machine if she wants to get here data back.

5) The backup is in the same location so when the place burns down she losses both her original and her backup.

and my favorite (you knew it was coming)

6) THE BACKUP IS ON THE SAME GORAM HARD DRIVE SO WHEN THE "DRIVE FAILS" YOU'LL LOOSE BOTH THE ORIGINAL AND THE BACKUP. Yes this may protect against accidental erasure and corruption, if you realize it quick enough before the next backup is done (let's face it, with that partition scheme, there's no room for any sort of archive). But almost every drive problem I've had has been hardware based (drive controlers, Head crash, etc).

So, being the helpful human I am, I try to insert myself into the conversation. "Excuse me, I don't think that's the best thing I've heard.. You'll probably run out of room really fast if you make 2 100 Gig partitions. Having the original and backup in the same place isn't the wisest thing I've heard. Oh, BTW, how handy are you with a screwdriver?".

His response was "Don't listen to this guy, if he was really knew this stuff he'd be working here. I'm a J&R senior sales person, what's his qualifications?".

All I said was "a Masters Degree in Computer Science from Columbia University". I was proud that I didn't ask him how that made him more qualified then a Petco Pet Food Stacker.

She put down the drive and said she needed to think about it.

In my past life, I did some home technical support and often wondered where people got some of their hair brained ideas about technology and how things work. As I've gotten older I've found plenty of stories like this and now know. I wonder how many people are using the J&R senior sales man backup method and if there are enough smart geeks out there to save them for J&R dweebs.

  Posted: Mar 31, 2007