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Screen shots don’t constitute logs

Posted by Preston on 2009-04-29

You might term this an appeal from every person who does support.

If you’re dealing with a support service with NetWorker, regardless of whether it’s EMC or some other company, it always pays to remember that screen shots do not constitute logs. Some people do have a tendency to shoot of a screen request when they request support, and as a long term provider of support and consulting in NetWorker, I’d just like to humbly beg you, if you’re about to do that, to seriously, seriously reconsider what you’re doing.

I like to rationalise it this way – consider your support “event” to be a movie. For example, if tape drives have been experiencing issues and failures overnight from 22:00 through to 08:00 the next day, that’s a 10 hour movie.

Using this analogy, sending a screen shot is akin to sending one single frame from a 10 hour movie and asking someone to provide you a complete plot summary and script for that movie.

As you may imagine, that doesn’t really work.

Sometimes there is a place for screen shots – they can be useful in certain situations. However, with NetWorker, a product that features excellent logging, there is no substitute for sending through the appropriate log files to your support provider. Like the entire movie vs a single frame, these provide the complete plot to your support team, and allow them to fully appreciate the overall state of the NetWorker server for the duration of the issue.

When you do send through logs, rather than screen shots, for NetWorker, you should always:

  • Take a copy of the file first
  • Compress the copy of the file

You will normally get at least a 10:1 compression ratio on text logs. So what might be a 5MB screen shot, or a 4MB plain text log file, should come down to 400KB or less.

Please, send logs, not screen shots, unless you’re asked otherwise. Your support person will thank you for it, and you’ll probably get resolution quicker.


I have one other personal preference when it comes to screen shots. Please, please don’t send them as a picture pasted into a word document. Either paste them directly into the email (modern email systems support this), or save them as an independent picture and send them through as an attachment.

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