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Too Bad He Doesn’t Have A Backup For His Brain

, , , , , | Right | February 17, 2023

There are few people who don’t seem to understand the need for a backup, but I always thought that people at least understood the concept. Oh, how innocent I was!

The story starts before I get a hold of it, in a retail store, after the first lifting of lockdowns. Many people are stomping into stores to upgrade their phones and move on to later and greater models.

In this particular store, the phones can be traded in, which this person is doing. As part of that, the phone gets wiped in front of the customer to show that their data is gone. (This is to avoid “you stole my data” people.) That is the very last step in this process. The normal thing is to get the phone and transfer the data in the store (if you don’t have a backup) or make arrangements in these plague-ridden times to pick the new phone up, set it up at home, and bring the old phone back in within a time window to get the amount of money off the trade-in process.

I have never stepped foot in one of the stores. I am phone support only. Sales are trained differently in another area, and anything I know about it is calling over to their side and asking.

The final thing to know about all of this is there are SO many ways to back up your data. You can make exports of your contacts, you can save full copies to the cloud, and you can save full copies to your computer. You can save your photos no less than four different ways from the basic software to a non-phone location — way more if you include applications from the store that say they’ll back up in different ways or let you exclude files or whatever. There are 101 ways to save however much, or little, of your phone as you want.

If you transfer the data in-store and don’t tell it otherwise, the system just duplicates the old phone onto the new one. It’s our job to help people set up from any one of these ways if they’re doing the home method, so I know just how many different ways you can get your data back on a phone.

This call comes in, and it starts with a clerk from the store apologising and saying this gentleman wants to speak with tech support. He says there’s been a “miscommunication”. Puzzled, alerted, and curious, I answer.

Me: “Tech support. How can I help you today?”

Customer: “You can help me get my d*** phone up and running is what you can do.”

Me: “All right, you’re in the store at the moment, right? Have they handed you your new phone yet?”

Customer: “No, it’s at home!”

Me: “Okay, then. We’ll need to have the new phone in order to set it up. Do you have the number so you can call back when you’re with it?”

Customer: “Of course I do, but that’s not the issue. The issue is this guy just deleted my backup!”

Me: “I’m sorry to hear that, sir. Was it saying that it was glitched or something odd? We wouldn’t touch your backups normally, just erase your phone when you hand it in after the trade-in is set up and you’ve set up your new phone.”

Customer: “He erased it! I handed it to him and he erased my backup!”

Me: “Sir, if you backed up your phone, it’s not only on your phone. It’s in the clou—”


I take a small pause to assimilate that and then carry on as if he didn’t just blow up at me.

Me: “…or to the computer you backed it up to. If you went more specific, it’s going to be in—”

Customer: “No! You don’t understand. He erased it!”

Some small tickle of horror starts dawning, but surely, he can’t mean…

Me: “Sir, when you say you ‘backed up your phone’, what do you mean?”

Customer: “My phone was my backup! It was all in there! Everything! And he erased it!”

Me: “Sir… do you mean to tell me that you only had one copy of everything?”

He responds as if glad I’m finally getting it.

Customer: “Yes! My backup! I was going to transfer it, and this idiot erased it!”

Me: “Sir… what about… the primary copy?”

Customer: “I don’t understand.”

I’m wondering how simple I need to go for this

Me: “Well… a backup… is that: a… a copy of the data, onto a second system somewhere, to… y’know, back up the data. One version of everything stored in one place… That’s not a backup, that’s just… well, your stuff?”

I can practically hear him turning purple.


Me: “A backup is a copy — a second copy. Like if you have a ‘backup car’, it means you have a second car.”

The customer is basically imploding. Somehow, he manages to calm down.

Customer: “He mentioned something about a computer.”

Me: “Yes, if you connected to a computer and told it to make a backup there—”

Customer: “I don’t trust computers.”

Me: “Or if you decided to send files—”

Customer: “Don’t you dare tell me about the cloud!”

Me: “I was just going to say ‘off-device’. If you [slightly odd but viable way to save documents], [odd but not hard alternate to save out the photos], or used an app like [three or four different ‘save my data’ apps], then your stuff would be safely with those systems. Do any of those things sound like something you did?”

Customer: “No, it was all in my backup here… and this guy just went and deleted it!”

I try one last, desperate attempt.

Me: “I don’t suppose you set up your new phone before you came into the store?”

Customer: “Of course not. I wanted to get my money back before setting it up.”

I take a long pause.

Me: “I’d check your computer, just in case you did back it up to there without remembering. But, frankly, if you didn’t, I’m afraid your phone has been erased, and we have no way of retrieving that data. I’m very sorry for your loss, sir.”

Customer: “But he deleted my backup! He didn’t even ask me! He just did it when I handed over the phone.”

Me: *With as much diplomacy as I can* “Sir, with the trade-in system, once you bring your old phone back in for the money, we presume you have everything off it. I believe we ask that as you’re handing the phone over, but if you say yes… well, we erase the phone to protect your privacy.”

Customer: “But it was my backup!”

I gently disconnect the call after apologising and explaining that if he backed it up to his computer, we can help, but otherwise, we can’t force people to save things off their devices.

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