Good that you have someone local to you helping - trying to get techncial support via EMail is the pits! :\
Also wise to take the path chosen ... fresh install/restore backups ... as that is, considering versions and detination desired, perhaps the path of least resistance at this point. But even in failure one might have learned something one didn't know before so there is gain. ;)
However, having said that, let me encourage you not to wait sooooooo loooooong next time to upgrade ... 2.8.x to 3.4.highest is quite a jump.
'spirit of sharing', Ken