Monday, September 22, 2014

I'm Glad I Backed Up, So I Can Move On...Eventually

As my summer vacation was wrapping up, I noticed that some programs in my remote session to my computer at home were hanging. I wasn't using my computer that much so I decided to ignore it. Then I received a message on my desktop from my Carbonite backup program telling me it had frozen my backup since it detected a problem with one of my disks. There wasn't much I could do until I got home.
When I got home everything appeared to be working normally, so I restored my backup. Not long after I saw that my disk was in fact having issues and I was having a hard time retrieving any files from it.

I ordered a new disk and began the waiting game. This was brutal. I keep track of everything with my computers: bills, to-do lists, pictures, videos, files for my websites, etc. Fortunately it arrived in two days, four to seven days earlier than estimated.

I installed my new disk, reassigned my old disk from D drive to Q drive and assigned my new disk to D drive. Then I called Carbonite support just to make sure I was performing the restore properly. Apparently what I had done was a mistake. I should have kept my backup frozen until after the restore was completed. By changing the drive letters and placing a new drive where the old drive had been without freezing the backup I had confused the Carbonite backup system, which is supposed to maintain all my files for at least 30 days.

Carbonite support was friendly and helpful. They assured me the data was there and got me started on the restore. They were all knowledgeable to quickly escalated my case to tier 2 and eventually tier 3 as they discovered more advanced tools would be required to reset my backup files.

Once I was escalated to tier 3 thing went downhill. The support representative instructed me to let him know when my initial restore was complete so he could make changes on the backend. The initial restore took a week to complete. Instead of initializing the changes on the backend the support representative scheduled a meeting with me just to explain what he was going to do, resulting in another day before we could begin the delta restore.

The next day we had to uninstall and reinstall the software so it would recognize the backend changes properly. Unfortunately we were not able to reinstall as the site where we had to connect was down, or at least that is what I was told. A day later we got it working and I began restoring the rest of my files.

It looked there were some files missing from my backup. In fact non of my video files were there. The support representative told me that any files not there must not had been backed up. This was very disturbing as I was left wondering if it was possible I had somehow excluded all my video files.

Apparently this was not the case. It looks like for some versions of Carbonite there are many files that are not backed up, including all video files!!! When I mentioned this to the support representative he said "When a folder is selected for backup, all the items in it that Carbonite recognizes as default backup items will be backed up." When I pressed the issue asking him why would it say “Files of this type are not backed up” even though the folder is selected, he said he would need to take a look at the machine to investigate.

The next day we had another session when he identified that [oh yeah] my version of Carbonite doesn't backup some file types, including videos, by default. I guess that's good to know. While you can find references to this on their support site, that isn't very helpful. Apparently it is mentioned in the install, but I don't remember seeing it, and there's no way for me to know if it was there when I originally installed Carbonite. Apparently this message does not appear during a reinstall. This is all besides the fact that if the tier 3 support representative would have pointed this out to me earlier it would have saved me a lot of headaches. Unfortunately Carbonite was not able to provide a list of the video file types they do not backup, so I had to try and figure it out myself and search for each possible type and configure each type to be backed up.

Fortunately I was able to recover those files from my intermittently functioning disk.

It took a while to restore my 1.5 TB of data, but now I've got it all back.

When I escalated my experience to Carbonite they were not adequately responsive to my concerns. They insist that the product limitations are clearly indicated during the installation and that including additional file types to be backed up is easy. I explained that "easy" would be providing an interface with a list of file types to be selected. Forcing me to locate an occurrence of a file type in order to select it is hardly easy. When I mentioned that Carbonite does not backup software files they explained why they don't backup Program Files, but I'm concerned about source files I've saved over the years. In the end I'll be looking for a new backup solution when my contract expires.

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