So my server's back in place, but with a very different problem. We can't leave the firewall on and still get to the files on the server. At first, I thought it was being caused by a change in some settings that my software provider recommended to work with their software. They spent two hours trying different ways to fix the problem, and in the end they determined the firewall was causing the problem and it had nothing to do with settings they created (for the record, I agree with them, so I am leaving their names out of this rant... I mean post).
So, I went to the "contact us" link on the Norton 360 product, which runs the firewall in question. The first tech support agent - using lots of hot-keyed phrases with my name inserted to look like he was really paying attention - suggested a couple of ideas before offering to remote in to my computer and change the settings "while [I] sit back and watch." Before I could even try to say yes, though, he'd closed the chat window.
So I tried to use the link he provided to get him back in case we got disconnected. No luck. So I went for tech support agent number two, one Priyadharishini Mohan (I saved his name for posterity... or for a future complaint filing). He offered the same remote session - with the hot-keys again, because it was if I didn't log on and immediately ask "Hey, your other agent was about to remote in, and I would really like you to do that." Which, of course, was exactly what I had done.
This tech did get the remote session going. He changed some settings on my computer, which was not the one causing the problem, and said "Check the issue now." I showed him I still could not reach the files on the server. He said he would need to reach the server, so I tried several ways he offered, only to finally suggest, "How about I remote in to my server from this computer, then you can control the server here?" I did and he proceeded to do exactly what I already knew how to do: he turned off the firewall. Then he said, "Check the issue now." So I turned the firewall back on and showed him the issue was still there. He said, "You still have the issue with the firewall down." I said, "No, I don't, I turned the firewall back on because I already know how to turn the firewall off to get in. You just watched me do it when I created this remote session. I don't want to have to take my firewall down every time I want to log on to my server's files from another computer." The next phrase I saw, I swear (I can even copy it from the transcript as proof) was Priyadharishini Mohan is rebooting your computer...
Rebooting the computer solved the problem for him very simply: it got rid of me. He did not ask if he could reboot the computer. He did not suggest it first. He simply did it, and then his connection was severed. I had unsaved work on my computer. It was lost as a result of his reboot, but no matter. At least he no longer had a problem to deal with.
So I got on my server to get tech support agent number three. He changed various settings, fortunately he made no effort to reboot my computer or just turn off the firewall to solve it. He actually tried to change a few settings. I realized as I watched him that he left several things undone in his process, so he was sloppy, but he at least tried. Still, in the end, having started at ten that morning, by three I was still not able to do the one thing I needed: to leave my firewall in place against everyone but the computers in my office. If my co-worker had not given me some of her lunch I might have been in really bad shape, but instead I was just very annoyed. I gave up for the day, since I actually had other work to accomplish (no, seriously, I had work to do, honest, I was not playing "prank the techie" or anything). I got a case number and a phone number to contact Norton again, and I logged off. Nothing having changed about my problem. Well, that's not exactly correct: I now had a deeper problem than just not getting to my files without turning off my firewall. Now I have a problem with the firewall creator not even knowing how to set it up correctly to protect my server.
In short, I'm not sure when I will ever buy another Norton product again.