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Tech Software:
The Unheard of Case of Technical Support for a 15 year Old Program Installation
 
Posted 58 days ago on 10/4/2020 and updated 11/9/2020
Take Away:

This article discusses a project I took on that culminated with the software vendor assisting me with recreating a 15 year old program installation.

KB104898

Around the end of February 2020, just before the coronavirus pandemic gripped the USA, I took on a computer repair project for my auto mechanic, Howard. The initial goal was to image the hard drive of a very old, but reliable and still working Dell tower pc with an old Pentium 4 processor. Howard used this computer to run his customer invoices through the NAPA TRACS software that he has used for the last 15 years. He said that if this computer goes down and he can’t get NAPA TRACS up and running again then he is out of business.

So this was a very important project to say the least. However, I had to delay the work until early May 2020 due to the virus shutting things down throughout my home state of Ohio. Little did I know at the end of February just how difficult it would be to do the seemingly simple task of imaging a hard disk drive. Initially, I used EaseUS ToDo Backup software to image the disk, which I successfully used for a new customer the previous year. The imaging process seem to go well until I tried to reinstall the image on a Dell Optiplex GX260 SFF (slim form factor) desktop computer I had bought for Howard on ebay to be used as a backup computer in case the first one failed from a catastrophic crash. The image I created would hit a snag during the restoration process onto the backup computer even though the initial image creation seemed to go fine. I repeated this several times with the same disappointing result.

Next, I tried to image the old Dell P4 computer using Clonezilla imaging software thinking something was defective with EaseUS ToDo Backup. Clonezilla received very good reviews so I thought perhaps it will do what EaseUS ToDo Backup could not for some reason. But the same frustrating thing happened with Clonezilla no matter how many attempts I made. The only thing I could think of was that there was some kind of Windows XP installation defect or disk boot sector snafu with the old Dell P4 machine that was throwing a wrench into the restoration process of the disk image. As such, whatever disk imaging software I used would be irrelevant, because it would succumb to this underlying problem with the Windows XP installation from the old Dell P4 machine. Even though the old Dell P4 computer worked and ran the NAPA TRACS software, the Windows XP operating system installation was nonetheless slow moving and suspect. At this point, I thought the only way to create a backup computer for the NAPA TRACS system was to install Windows XP on it like the Dell P4 had and then install the NAPA TRACS software on there and manually restore the NAPA TRACS data from the first computer. Howard managed to find the NAPA TRACS installation CD for version 6.0.1.5 he previously thought he did not have. I installed it onto the backup computer, but it would not run even after multiple attempts.

I was beside myself. Both Howard and I began to resign ourselves to the fact that this project would not get done even though it was very important to have it done. Howard had previously told me that NAPA technical support would not even speak to him because he was using a very old version of their NAPA TRACS software that he was no longer paying for. Well, I really wanted to get this done for him knowing he needed a backup in case there was a catastrophic crash with the old Dell P4 machine. So just on a lark, and not thinking I would get far, I decided to contact NAPA TRACS technical support myself on the outside chance they would be willing to help us out.

The first technical support agent I spoke to seemed like he was willing to help as best he could, which really surprised me knowing that Howard was not a paying customer and that he was using an old version of the software, version 6.0.1.5. The NAPA agent emailed me a NAPA TRACS version 7 something installation (that was the oldest version he had access to), which I was most grateful for. I thought he would have sent me away, but he said I could call him back if I had further problems, which was most encouraging. So I attempted to install it onto the backup computer. The installation went well, but the NAPA TRACS program still would not run even after several reinstallations.

Now, I was really beginning to wane about the prospects of getting this done. It was not looking good at all for Howard. I decided to give NAPA TRACS technical support one more shot to get this software debacle successfully resolved and if not, then that would be the end of the road. After speaking with another technician at NAPA TRACS, he very graciously referred me to a LEVEL II support technician, Danielle. She was very nice and said she would remote into the computer and install the NAPA TRACS version 6.0.1.5 software herself. She got it done for us and now we have a backup computer that can run NAPA TRACS 6.0.1.5 with all of Howard’s data from the first computer he currently uses. If the worst happens with the old Dell P4 machine, Howard will be all set to get up and running again.

The willingness of an application software vendor to assist a non-paying or even a paying user with resurrecting a 15 year old software installation is UNHEARD OF! It simply does not happen in this world. It is only by the grace of God that NAPA TRACS technical support was willing to do this for us in our time of need and for that Howard and I are most grateful.


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Article Contributed By NE Ohio Computer Guy:

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