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Don't screw up the owner's computer!

© July 2009 Anthony Lawrence

One of my long time customers called yesterday about her desktop computer. She complained that she had almost no free disk space and that their contracted support person had been in the day before to fix that but that nothing had changed with regard to lack of space and, worse, she now couldn't open certain email attachments. The support person had told her that he had removed some programs she "didn't need".

Yeah, like Acrobat Reader, as it turned out later.

But I had a question first. Why was she still out of disk space? You see, I had been in her office back in February and had seen exactly why she had the problem. I was in a rush to catch a train, so I didn't take the time to fix it myself, but on my hurried walk to South Station I called the support guy and told him what was wrong. He said he'd fix it.

What I had observed was that somebody (probably this same support person) had mistakenly installed Symantec Corporate Anti-Virus on her machine. All she is supposed to have is the client, but she had a little over 8GB of software she shouldn't have. Someone HAD removed it with Add/Remove programs, but somehow that monstrous folder was still there. Simple fix, remove the folder and do a repair install of the client. Easy, right?

I had even talked to this support dude a month later. We were talking about some other problem and I asked if he had fixed that Symantec issue. Oh, yes. Definitely. All set. Yeah, right.

So why was she calling me with this issue? It must be something else, I thought, but just the same I fired up GotoAssist on my Mac, sent her the link, and a minute or two later I had control of her desktop.

By the way, I really like that program. I've tried all sorts of free stuff and always run into trouble - usually that the client can't get their end working. This is dead simple for them - I send a link, they click on it, confirm that they want me to take over, and that's it. The software downloads, installs and configures itself in a heartbeat - nice stuff!

So the first place I looked was her email, because that's where Mr. Consultant said the problem was - too many messages with attachments. Sure didn't look that way to me and when I checked the drive, that big Symantec folder was still there. I swore at the keyboard and removed it. I did a repair install of the client version just in case and then downloaded the latest Acrobat Reader. Bingo, everything working again and 8GB plus of free disk.

Honestly, I'm a bit annoyed. Why didn't he do this? Did he not understand me? Well, if so, why didn't he say so - "Hey, I don't see what you are talking about!"? Why go off in some other direction that accomplished nothing - worse, it broke her functionality?

And why lie to me about fixing it? I don't get it. Yeah, I know: I'm the old Unix fossil. Not worth listening to. But sheesh - she was out of disk space for months!


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Wed Jul 22 12:14:06 2009: 6667   DonalWhooley

I recently came across (link) . This is a nice free alternative to GotoAssist. Works on much the same principle and no issue encountered so far both providing access to PC and accessing others. Also seems to work very well between MAC <-> XP.

Wed Jul 22 12:17:43 2009: 6668   TonyLawrence

That's only free for personal use.

Wed Jul 22 16:00:27 2009: 6669   MikeHostetler

I use CoPilot a lot -- sounds just like GotoAssist. CoPilot it free on the weekends and the per-use charge isn't bad.


Sat Jul 25 15:19:07 2009: 6679   anonymous

Ever tried CCleaner? (link)

Chances are her PC's also laden with old System Restore points and hotfix uninstallers. This will clean all of that up. (There's a "Slim" build buried on their download page that doesn't come with the Yahoo toolbar, and only weighs in at around 500k.)

Sat Jul 25 17:10:49 2009: 6680   anonymous

Um, we have Symantec Corporate Anti-Virus and Symantec Endpoint Protection and combined the two take up no where near 8gb.

Sat Jul 25 17:44:39 2009: 6681   ToyLawrence

Well, I didn't look to see what else was in that folder, but it was 8GB.

CCleaner? I won't touch anything that includes a "registry cleaner".


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