I’m going to break down for you why it is A) Important to always back up your computer and B) Never trust things you find online.
Last Sunday started as many Sunday’s do, it was gloomy and rainy and my mom and I drove into work expecting a rather slow day. Little did we know that what we found would be the start to the worst week we’ve ever had.
As we tried to start the computer that is also our server, meaning it contains all of our business information, we find it won’t turn on. Well that’s awful because we have 3 minutes until we open for business and if the server doesn’t work, all of our cash registers won’t work because they are connected to the main Point of Sale. That’s fine, we’ll just hand write transactions until we can get the computer up and running. We figured we would get everything back up in a few hours. But after calling our POS company, we learn that they can’t even log on to our server because it’s just dead. Now we start to panic.
At least we have our back up flashdrives that save after every day. As my mom is plugging in the flash drives on the cash registers though, we learn that the supposed back up that was put in effect by the POS company HASN’T BEEN WORKING FOR THE FIVE YEARS SINCE IT WAS INSTALLED. Meaning we lost five goddamn years of business, just like that. If they even could recover our data from the server. If things were as bad as they possibly could get we would have to start the business from scratch.
Let me really put into perspective what that would mean:
- Re-inventory over a million items
- Create all of the new products that were not from the warehouse
- We would have to create every business account and lose all of their purchases made during the month of May
- We’d lose all of the sales history of products, not knowing what we need to order again
- No payroll would exist for employees
We would have had absolutely nothing.
My mom and I sat in the car on Sunday and just cried, we had no idea what to do, if everything was gone, could we even do it all again.
On Monday we rushed the computer to the hospital for repairs. During this time we were still unfortunately reduced to pen and paper transactions. Adding everything up by calculator, running to shelves to get SKU’s and prices, and manually adding on sales tax. It was really difficult when you’re used to just scanning things and BAM! information appears. So we waited to hear the diagnosis.
Come to find out a transistor had blown in Mazo, and it had crashed Windows on the server. Okay, not too bad, just Windows was corrupt but all of our data would still be there, we hoped. We remained hopeful and pessimistic, but as they had to keep the server for almost three days, we figured that if they had it that long, not everything was lost. So mind you all, we have had to do our order, which consists of finding what products we’re out of, by hand. We have had to receive the products on Wednesday and put them away with no computer to give locations. We have had to remember pricing for items that only exist in our computer system, such as filling a propane tank, and we’re just tired.
Finally Thursday rolls around, day five of this whole ordeal and we think we’re all set. The IT guy has set up our computer! We should be in the clear, after our POS guy comes in and reinstalls all of the programs we need onto the server, so that’s another two hours and all we have to do is restart all the computers! We’re feeling good, so close to the end. But when mom tries to restart the computer, it goes to a blue screen, for 45 minutes, that says that it’s still reloading. Fuck.
She then proceeds to call Microsoft, or who she thinks is Microsoft. After over an hour on the phone, and a rude ass dude telling her she’ll hang up if she speaks to him rudely (suspicious) she finds out it’s a fucking scam. They basically get you to let them into your computer, say there’s a ransomware (when there’s really not), install a virus and charge you some huge fee to fix it. Me, having been outside, didn’t know what number she had called and didn’t think to question it. She manages to get off the phone, but no come Thursday, we’re absolutely terrified that a back door was installed to perhaps skim information or crash our whole system.
The next day we call our computer guy, and our point of sale people and we’re just terrified and my poor mother feels like an idiot for falling for a scam. But she was exhausted, stressed, and just wanted to get her business and livelihood up and running again! They scan our system, check our back ups, but we’ve been offline all day because we were too nervous to start up our computers in case something had happened.
Then finally, almost an hour to the FIVE DAY mark, we get everything sort of figured out. It was the best feeling, I almost cried with relief, but then do you know what happened. My mom and I stayed until 9:30 pm hand entering five days worth of transactions. The thing was that prices were wrong, SKUs were wrong, they didn’t write down whether it was Cash, Credit, or Check. It was frustrating because if people had just used their brains, we could have at least had a slightly easier time of it.
As if Mother Nature was on our side, Friday morning started off slow, and we were able to finish the last of the transactions that needed to be done. But now we’re left with the mess of a week of other things that couldn’t get done without a working computer. We’re strong and we’ll do our damn best, but we’re just people.
What message is it that I want to share with you all? If someone tells you that your computer is backing up, CHECK IT before letting them leave, have them show you some hard proof that it is working. We now have every back up and fail-safe in place so we never have to do this again. And finally, Microsoft doesn’t have a main line, it is so huge you have to call a very specific tech support line. If you’re an older person, please ask for help because they prey on older people who don’t understand technology as well. Thank god nothing bad happened and we dodged a bullet, because this business is our life, if we lost it we’d lose everything.
Thank the dark lord this week is done. Please the next time your mom asks you to help her update her computer, help her so she’s not the victim of scammers. Maybe one day we’ll look back at this week and laugh, but for now, I’ll use it as a warning.