Why are there so many bad IT Support companies out there who don’t have the first idea about IT?

Having taken on two new customers with SBS 2003 servers within the last week, the first server was in a very bad way with 58Gb of Exchange logs piled up since the last Exchange full backup in about August 2010 and the SBS 2003 backup hadn’t worked since the 23rd August 2011 (we 1st saw the server on the 15th September).

The SBS backup was configured but fell over the second it tried to start.  After a quick poke about, I edited the selections in the SBS backup job and then re-ran the backup.  This time it worked and started to backup.  It subsequently failed with a corrupt font file in the ClientApps\Outlook 2003 folder (so I replaced the file from the CD) and problems with the Exchange database, so I took the store offline, ran a repair (eseutil /p), defragmentation (eseutil /d) and integrity check (isinteg) and that solved those problems.  The backups are now running to the end and all 58Gb of Exchange logs have been purged from the disk – finally!

Updates had not been downloaded / installed on the server and WSUS was installed but had not synced to Microsoft since it was installed.  All very basic, simple maintenance tasks that should be performed by any competent IT company.

Backup Exec was installed – heaven knows why – as it wasn’t being used.  Probably made the IT support guy some money selling software that wasn’t necessary I suppose.

There were various errors showing up in the Event Logs, mainly Disk errors and IP AUTD failed to Initialize (simple registry fix for this).  A quick tweak to the registry and a restart of the DNS Server service and the IP AUTD error went away (see KB956189).  Waiting to run a disk check to clear the disk errors.

This customer apparently lost all their data when their server crashed recently and it took the IT guy 3 weeks to get their data back.  Presumably after this, they would have made sure the backups were working 100% – but this doesn’t seem to be the case.

Symantec Anti-Virus Management Console was installed – but there were no clients using Symantec Anti-Virus.  Symantec Mail Security for Microsoft Exchange was also installed, but the definitions expired in August 2008, so spam filtering wasn’t going to work, but then as they were using POP3 collection for their emails, what good was Symantec Mail Security going to do for them as it can’t scan POP3 collected mail – only SMTP delivered mail!

Turkey, Poland and Spain were very interested in the server and trying on a minute by minute basis to try and breach the Administrator account – so far unsuccessfully, but it probably won’t take them long if nothing is done to stop the attacks.  As soon as we get the go-ahead to start fixing the various issues – we will be bolting the server down and monitoring it for unwanted attention from foreign parts.

Having been shocked by one server in a week, we secured another customer and started to examine their server in detail, installing some monitoring software which picked up a lack of a completed backup by the SBS backup job, or the Backup Exec software that was also installed (but not configured).

On the second server – the SBS backup was configured to run and was happily running, but as soon as the backup had written about 4Gb of data to the external HDD used for the backups, the backup failed!  Guess what – the drive was formatted as FAT32 not NTFS so the backups were doomed from the start.  A quick re-format of the disk and the backup now completes successfully.

I have only scratched the surface of the 2nd server, so anticipate more problems to surface, but I just can’t believe how two different IT Support companies can provide such useless support and actually charge for their services.  It is beyond belief.

So – if you are happy with your current IT Support company then great.  Why not try asking them to recover a file from backup that you have accidentally deleted (moved to your Personal Computer) and see how long it takes them to recover it.

If you want an IT Support company that makes sure that the servers they look after are backing up properly, have Anti-Virus software installed and updated, doesn’t let spam through to the users because of excellent Anti-Spam software, then please give me a call or drop me an email.  I can happily review your existing servers and advise you if your backups are working properly or if something else is going wrong but you are blissfully unaware of it.

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4 Responses

  1. HI Alan,

    Been going thru this post. One question i always ask during interviews is whether the candidate has recovered data from a tape backup or dvd backup or even external harddisk. The answer was always “NO”. Many have never even bothered to check whether the backup works or not,leave alone restoring from a backup.

  2. […] on from my earlier Blog Post about bad IT Support Companies (here) I visited a potential new customer today to look over their IT.  The background information I […]

  3. We should also add that the companies need to be more careful about who they hire. IT guys for hire are a dime a dozen, but the hiring company needs to show more diligence and be willing to pick based on more than cost per hour.

    • My blog is more about the company that is more of a one-man-band type company. The sort who knows a bit about IT (enough to be dangerous), at least more than the customers that they manage to pick up and then they can pull the wool over their customers eyes because their customers don’t actually know any better and presumably trust the IT company and what they say / advise.

      Alan

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