If this looks familiar, we sympathize. All of us have seen this at one time or another, especially those of us who spend a lot of time working on a computer. The last thing we want to see is the image above. But when we do see it, as inevitably most of us will, the first thing that come to mind is: What do I do now?
We could tell you not to panic, but that would be pointless. As our computer is as much a part of our anatomy as our legs, we’re going to panic when something goes wrong. So after you’ve panicked, it’s time to figure out what to do.
First, if you suspect it’s a virus that has caused the above, you can attempt to remove it yourself. Personally, this is not the method I use as I just don’t have the patience for it. However, there are plenty of people who can and do have the patience, and utilizing such books as Windows Lockdown, they discover how to eliminate an intruding virus. It might take them a bit of time, but they get their computer cleaned with little to no money out of pocket. I reiterate, that’s not what I do.
So my next suggestion is for all of you who would much rather have someone else take care of the problem while you’re home biting your nails. Here goes:
Let me say this up front as it’s extremely important. Do not assume that a big name computer repair company is going to fix your computer with little or no hassle and have you back to work on your masterpiece within a day or so. I have, in the past, depended upon a computer repair company that is well-known and boasts about its quick repair times and efficient service. Almost a month later, I got my computer back with just as many problems as I’d originally had.
Anyway, my suggestion would be to look for someone in your town/city with a good reputation. You might want to spend a little bit of time searching for computer repair companies/individuals on the Internet. Don’t just look at their prices. Look at their customer ratings if they have any. Check out what they do, their turnaround times, and whether or not they offer guarantees.
Next, call your chosen place and ask a few questions. You want them to sound knowledgeable without trying to make you feel like an idiot because you don’t what RAM actually does. Look upon this as a mini-interview. Just as you research agents and publishers, you need to research your computer repair specialist. Tell him/her the problem and see what they say. If their automatic response is ‘you’ll have to bring it in and let me take a look at it’, find out if they offer free diagnostics. If not, will they take the cost of the diagnostic off the final repair price?
Once you’ve chosen the individual/company that’s going to be working on your baby and you take your computer in, be sure to get the name of the tech you’re speaking to. If the individual is not a tech, ask if you can speak with one before you just hand over your computer. You want to make sure it’s in good hands. Once you speak with the tech, get his/her name as well and get an anticipated turnaround time for the repairs.
When you leave the store or the individual’s place of business, make sure you have a repair ticket or proof that the computer you’re leaving behind is yours. You don’t want any mix-ups when you return.
And just a quick add-on before we end Part I, always pay by check if at all possible. You don’t want to give a credit card or debit card number as some places may add fees you didn’t authorize, i.e., the upload of a new virus software. They will just automatically charge your card because it’s written in the really tiny print on the front page of that paper you signed and didn’t take the time to read. So a check is always preferable. If they don’t take checks, use your credit card, but make sure they know you are only authorizing payment for the charges you have discussed, no more. I actually write that on the repair sheet, and I draw a line through any nebulous terminology that has to do with additional charges.
So ends Part I. Part II will include ways to protect your computer, back-up your files even if you don’t have an external hard-drive, and ways to avoid being scammed with the brand new, shiny software that is supposed to do everything but wipe off your computer screen.