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How to Do and Not Do Customer Support

I recently purchased a Dell XPS M1530 laptop for use both for professional work (consulting & presentations) and ministry (mostly presentations). Yesterday, as I was at home recovering from a back injury, I noticed that some files were closing a little slower than I remembered. So naturally I checked the event logs and in the System event log I found:

 The file system structure on the disk is corrupt and unusable. Please run the chkdsk utility on the volume C:.

I'm wary, as would be expected, when I see this kind of error. Usually it's the first sign of a hard drive going bad. But apparently others have noticed it on a Dell and suspect it has to do with hibernation. Perhaps that's the case, as I've been using hibernation a lot lately when originally I didn't at all. If it is hibernation, not a big deal, because the system boots up just about as fast from a complete shutdown as it does from hibernation, so I'll stick with that. In any case, I opened up a support call with Dell and the first representative and we went through the SFC /SCANNOW and he instructed me on what they wanted to see to run on the pre-boot assessment diagnostics (which, if you hold down the Fn key at the Dell screen, the system will enter into). Because I would have to restart the system, and because of the size of memory and HD space I have, he suspended the ticket and I went about to run the checks. Several hours later, no errors reported on any of the hardware. The guy was professional, focused on the issue at hand, and gave the types of tips and reminders I would have expected (make sure you backup your important data frequently, etc.).

So I go back into chat and understandably get a different person. I re-explain the issue and he says he understands and then asks if he can use DellConnect to connect and remote in. I agree and in the process of starting it up realize it's just Citrix GoToAssist with a Dell interface slapped on top. No biggie. So I watch what he's doing. He immediately goes in and starts with trying to change the PageFile and the DEP settings and then goes to a web site where he was starting to download a Spyware Cleaner. I break in and ask basically, "What are you doing and what does this have to do with the main problem?" He replies back, "I wanted to increase your system performance." My response was, "Look, it says I have file system corruption, that's what the call was about, not about performance issues. The system performs just fine. Can we focus on the main issue?" The reply I get back is, "Ok, well, you can do this..." which is basically to reboot, hit F8, and select repair your computer. After that he terminated the call. I'm hoping I get a survey to fill out because I'll report that the second guy didn't focus on the issue at all. What a completely different response!

As far as fixing the issue, with no more expectations from Dell, I went into repair your computer and ran the CHKDSK C: /F and it had a few extended attributes that were corrupt (those aren't handled by the transactional processes of NTFS) and there were a few files that were orphaned from any indexes. The chkdsk fixed those and I immediately ran another chkdsk to see if there were any more errors that cropped up. With nothing else being reported I rebooted. I've kept an eye on things and I've even run a chkdsk in read-only mode this morning with no more issues. I typically keep everything backed up to 1 or more USB drives anyway, so if the system were to go south, I'd only lose what I was immediately working on. That's just a good practice, as Kimberly Tripp has blogged about. You never know when an unexpected failure is going to happen. So plan that it will at some point and take the precautions to ensure your loss is minimized.


K. Brian Kelley - Databases, Infrastructure, and Security

IT Security, MySQL, Perl, SQL Server, and Windows technologies.


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