Lessons from a Death-Throe Computer

In the old days, you just had to get new ink or make your own. /nostalgia

This last week, my computer started glitching. If you’ve ever had your computer stop working the way it should, when you have your entire life on it, you know how stressful it is. I had some free time, but that time was not relaxing. I still won’t rest easily until I have my original computer back home, even though transitioning to my new computer has gone relatively smoothly. (The same cannot be said for making up my school hours, which has dominated my time for the last few days.)

My friends, I cannot emphasize this enough:

1. Back-up your data. Seriously. Back up that shit. I don’t know where I’d be if I did not have my external hard drive and backed up at least once a week. And when I’m writing, I have several places I keep my works, just to make sure it doesn’t hurt too hard if it’s lost. The hardest part about moving from one computer to the other was software, not data, and that was hard enough. Don’t lose your stuff.

2. As a corollary, keep all your original discs and software in a safe place that you’ll remember. Again, this is something that I do, and I’m darn glad I did it.

3. If your computer is important to your livelihood, if you’ve developed your own USB cord from your navel, if you live your life online … don’t wait until your computer breaks. This is something I’ve finally learned after three laptops. When the warranty is over, assume that your computer is not far behind. Keep it as a back-up until it dies or trade it in. This way, you get to deal with the stress of moving your digital life on your terms, not your computer’s.

4. Your computer will probably not be fixed in a day. The estimated completion time from the Geek Squad for diagnostics and fixes was five days. Yeah, five days, when I have to log weekly typing hours and I was already behind. I had to hold back tears on the phone and bought a new computer that very evening. Have a Plan B for when your computer gets sick.

5. Take each issue one step at a time. If you try to look at everything all at once or attempt to see into the future of computer failure and loss of data and everything falling apart, you will freak out. Address each problem as it comes. You may still have a meltdown or two, but it might not take you over completely.

6. Allow yourself a time to mourn. You’ll feel a little better, and you’ll have better perspective after you’ve gone through the emotional side of the computer problems.

7. When you’ve exhausted all your own solutions (like turning it off and on and reinstalling software), go to the professionals – from the specialized programs to organizations like the Geek Squad. It’s what they do.

What’s been your experience with computer problems in the past? What are your rules?

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