Geek Squad Backs Up Your Desktop Shortcut Instead Of Your Data

Reader Mike consulted Best Buy about removing a Trojan that was infecting his computer. They suggested that he buy an external hard drive, pay Best Buy to back up his data, and use his computer’s restore disc. Mike agreed. 5 days later he got his computer and his external hard drive back — mostly empty, except for the shortcut to the folder where the data was stored. None of the files within the folder had actually been transferred.

Mike writes to Best Buy:

Our home computer was infected by a Trojan that had seriously slowed down our service and had recently caused the computer to cease running a crucial process. When we took the CPU into the Geek Squad, they suggested that our best option was to have them back up the hard drive, and for us to then run the computer’s Restore disc at home.

We were asked to fill out a form that contained the absolute minimum that must be backed up. I listed on that form 3 folders of personal documents and a single Word document that resided on the computer’s desktop. However, we were then informed that the best way to absolutely ensure the Geek Squad’s ability to back up our entire hard drive would be to purchase an external drive whose capacity was at least as large as our computer’s. We thus purchased for approximately $95 a 500 GB external hard drive on which to back up an 80 GB computer.

The process, we were told, would take 2 to 3 days. After 5, we were finally told that our computer was ready.

Having picked up the CPU and brought it home, I checked the contents of the external hard drive before running the restore disc. At this time I discovered, firstly, that only the bare minimum had been backed up—the three folders and one document that we had indicated on the form. Since I had purchased the 500GB hard drive specifically because I was told that this would with certainty allow the Geek Squad to back up the entire hard drive, this was extremely frustrating.

However, the situation almost immediately graduated from frustrating to infuriating. One of the three folders I had marked on the form was the “My Documents” folder. The icon for this folder on the hard drive indicated that the file size was 1 KB. The technicians at Best Buy had NOT backed up the “My Documents” folder, as I had requested: they had backed up only the shortcut. None of the files within the folder had actually been transferred.

There is an expectation upon the part of the consumer that Best Buy’s computer technicians know what they are doing. The fact that they were not tipped off by the “1 KB” notation that I noticed immediately suggests precisely the opposite: that the Geek Squad at Best Buy on 14th Street are lazy at best, incompetent at worst.

I am extremely unhappy. I spent all night last night backing up the computer myself—a service I paid for rather handsomely, and for which I received LESS than the absolute-last-resort minimum that I had indicated on my paperwork. But my biggest regret in this entire fiasco is that I did not avail myself of the Best Buy Geek Squad’s long history of complaints and dissatisfied customers. I might then have saved myself a great deal of time and trouble.

Please be assured that I will not patronize Best Buy again.

Thank you.


Kudos to you for not waiting until after you nuked your hard drive to check the external. If Best Buy doesn’t offer a refund for the services they did not perform, we wouldn’t hesitate to contact our credit card company and request a chargeback.

(Photo: The Joy Of The Mundane )

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