When to Call In the Pro's
People run into problems with their computers and wonder if
they can fix it themselves. Part of the reason I'm writing
this book is because many of the issues I am called out to
fix are things that can be handled by anyone.
"But Guy, I'm not a techie!" I can hear the panic in your voice, but trust me.
The truth is, you don't have to be a techie to work with a computer. Basically, it boils down to two things: whether you can do it and whether you want to do it. In considering whether you can do it, there are a number of ways to make that a non-issue. For starters, you can get a book. There are numerous books dedicated to helping you learn how to troubleshoot a computer and fix it yourself. There are even ones with titles like PC's for Dummies (wouldn't you like to have been the guy who started that whole thing? Talk about a goldmine concept). Some are pretty easy to follow, but dry, while others are written in a way that it seems like only a rocket scientist would be able to decipher what they are talking about. It makes me wonder, who reads these books, particularly the textbook-style ones and thinks it is a great book, while the rest of us use it as a sleeping aid. Nevertheless, the instructions for everything I do for my customers are written down somewhere, you just have to take the time to find it and read it.
Also, there are so many videos on YouTube, and other video tutorial websites, or instructional DVDs for almost anything under the sun that you could want to know about a particular computer issue. I was doing research for a client of mine who owns a barbershop and easily found that there were detailed videos on how to do just about any kind of haircut you could want to know how to do. The point is, living in the information age means that information is out there; you just have to want to find it and learn it. Tutorials and how to books are easily found for many topics, including typical virus removal, memory installation, the replacing of hard drives, adding video cards, computer optimization etc.
Much of what the professionals in my field do involves trial and error, but the good thing is that we often come across the same issues over and over again so we can duplicate these fixes because we have seen them numerous times. Trial and error takes time, however, and a continuous process of fixing many computer issues in order to gain that knowledge. So, someone who is not in this business may come across a computer issue for the first time and the quick fix just doesn't come quickly enough when finding it may involve trying many different things to find the solution..
I have customers who say that they are morons when it comes
to dealing with computers and they don't know how I can do
what I do. But those same customers may be claims adjusters,
or cashiers, or bankers, or electricians or experts at a
host of many other professions that I have no interest in
learning, or even trying to learn. So I say to them, “you do
what you do and I do what I do." The truth is, they probably
don't have the interest or the patience to learn how to do
what I do. This is fair, as I don't have the interest or
patience for learning to do what they do either.
Many of my customers just don't care to try because they have no interest or have decided their time is more valuable to them, so they pay someone to do the things they have no interest in. How many people out there have housekeepers? Many of you do. That's not because you can't clean your house. It's because you don't want to do it. You want to use your finite amount of time doing more of what you want to do, rather than using it for what you don't want to do. So you trade this time for the money that the housekeeper, or gardener, or nanny, etc. charges you. It is your time and your money and you get to choose what you want to do with them both.
Beside the interest factor, though, there is the comfort factor. Many are uncomfortable trying to fix a computer. They worry that they may cause a blackout on the eastern seaboard if they hit a wrong computer key, or something. Now, maybe if you hit the wrong computer key at the power plant you could do some damage, but your little home computer does not have enough juice and is not going to make the Mayan Apocalypse happen any sooner. Don't be afraid of what you can do with your computer. The only caveat I have is that the first step is always to back it up. Backing up your computer should be done regularly, anyways, to avoid major damage happening to it and data lose. But specifically, before attempting to handle any issues yourself, I cannot stress strongly enough how important it is to start by backing it up. This is done by following the instructions in the backup and restore section of the computers control panel.
After it is backed up, I say play around and work that computer. It is there for you to use so don't be afraid of it. If you are having an issue, Google the issue to see if you can find a fix for it. Using specific model names and numbers brings you the most relevant results. Many times, you will find that there are numerous people who have experienced the exact same issue as you are having and may have posted it as a question on the internet in forums or on tech sites. The good thing about us tech people is that we are both helpful and somewhat smug about fixing issues; we don't want computers to beat us. So, often, we are more than willing to put the answers to questions out on the forums to help others.
One site I use regularly is Experts-Exchange.com. There, you
can post questions or search through their knowledge base
for solutions to problems other people have already asked
about. The computer gurus who come up with the solution are
awarded points. That is great for you, because you can have
confidence in the knowledge of the people offering the
solution. The techs use these points for bragging rights and
as badges of honor that display their skills and level of
competency, and rightfully so. You can use them to help you
gage how confident you feel with the answers you receive. A
real techie is quick and easy with answers. I sometimes say
to my clients who have issues that I am able to solve
quickly, “Is that all you got? Come on; give me something
The next issue is the wanting to do it. We all know that time is a finite resource, and one that we are each given the exact same proportion of. While we know, intuitively, that the passage of time is static hat is, it is unchanging it can sure feel like it is passing at different speeds depending on what we are involved with. For instance, I could be sitting at my computer, working on a customers' computer remotely and look up at the clock and be surprised to notice that, although it feels like it was only a few minutes, I have actually been online for over an hour. Or, for some, sitting in a training seminar or a classroom can make the time seem to be dragging on and on, the clock seeming to be moving in slow motion.
Now, we all know time is, in reality, the same no matter what we are doing, but we sure do perceive it differently, based mostly on our interest and concentration on whatever it is that we are doing (someone is reading this and saying, where is he going with this). Okay, I will get to the point. Choosing the things that you want to do has a lot to do with your perception, or interest level, of that thing. This is often determined by the amount of time you perceive it takes you, or will take to do and if you want to give up that time to do it.
I also find people who believe, like me, that they could do it, if they could just read the book. These people want to try because they don't want this small box called a computer to beat them. This has mixed results. They may find that some things are easy, they can do them very successfully and they feel proud and happy that they conquered another thing in their lives. On the other hand, sometimes they really mess things up royally and make matters worse. I had a customer that said that they believed they were having a hard drive issue. In trying to fix it, they accidentally reformatted and overwrote their hard drive. Of course, they did not listen to my number one rule hey did not have it backed-up so I had to break the bad news to them that they FUBARed (Fluffed Up Beyond All Recognition) their computer. Didn't I say to back it up first? Some people just don't listen.
So, you might be the one who is too afraid, or has no interest, or you just don't want to trade the time, or you might just be the one who feels up for the challenge. Whichever you are, there are some things that it just makes better sense to hire a professional for right from the start.
Skip trying to figure it out and jump straight to hiring a professional:
Anything that has to do with
registry modifications to one wrong step can make your
- OS upgrades with data transfers to if you do this wrong, an hour and a half project can take a day or two to finish.
- Server maintenance to unless you are an extreme hobbyist, don't try to make modifications to a server, you can bring down a company's whole operation and it would seem like the Mayans were, in fact, right in their predictions.
- When you get a virus and your computer will not let you run anything to clean it. We have software tools and, more importantly, tricks that only experienced techs would know. Unfortunately, sometimes, even our tricks and tool may not work for some viruses.
- When your hard drive will not load and is not visible to this could mean it has to be sent out for recovery or a professional may have to use something to recognize the partition.
- When you get the Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) stop errors and your computer will reboot and shut down or lock up with no reason.
- If your computer reboots on its own randomly more than once.
- Finally, if you are concerned that you may not be patient enough to let the things that you try take the time they need to fix it. Sometimes, dealing with computer issues is about waiting around for the computer to decide if what you just did will fix it.
These things aside, deciding whether to solve your own computer issues often boils down to whether you really want to do it. I know how to do many things but, honestly, when it comes down to it, I really just do not want to do them. I have owned real estate, both as a home owner and as an investor, and in being a property owner, I have done my own simple home repairs. I have changed bathroom faucets, repaired walls, painted and many other such things. At the time, I believe my motivation for doing these things was much like yours for solving your own computer issues: to save money, or because you are interested in learning how to do it.
Maybe, for you, it is time to call in a pro. There does come that time, even if you, like me, are always eager to learn something new, or do not ever want to miss the opportunity to save a little cash. One of the things about me is that I am not afraid to try many things even if I don't know how to do it when I start out. My wife, Judi, has this standing joke about me. She knows I have an over abundance of self esteem, and some would say arrogance, about my ability to do many things. She says, “I know, the only reason you aren't a brain surgeon is because you haven't read the book yet." To which I would say, “You are right."