The High Cost of Do-It-Yourself

As a busy computer repair service, one common theme that I see over and over is the consequences of do-it-yourself repairs. "I started seeing an error message, or having a problem and I tried to fix it myself" the contrite owner confesses! "Now it won't work at all!"

Another familiar admission goes like this; "My nephew, cousin, friend, (who knows computers), tried to fix it, and now all I see is a 'blue screen'!"

When I hear these stories my heart always sinks because I know that what might have been a simple (and low cost) fix may now be difficult and expensive.

To begin with, I can no longer see the original problem. It doesn't help to hear someone describe an error message as "I think it said something like 'Unable to start, then a bunch of numbers'". Next I hear a tearful litany of "things" that our nephew "tried" to do. This second-hand information is often highly inaccurate, garbled, not in any particular order and punctuated with comments like, "I don't really understand this stuff!" Of course, none of juniors repairs worked, or they wouldn't have brought me the PC. Now they are really frustrated, angry at "you computer guys", and rightfully scared that they may have lost everything! Just thinking about the loss of wedding pictures, music, tax documents, you name it scares people witless.

My advice, when you first see an error message, or start hearing a strange noise or you get the famous "Blue Screen of Death" stop what you are doing and consult an expert. Why you ask? I'll tell you just a few of the MANY reasons. Error messages are often very misleading. I can't tell you how many times I have found that the error message is reporting the symptoms of the problem not the cause. The program that is reporting the problem is fine, it is some seemingly unrelated process, service, or even hardware, that has failed and is no longer carrying its load. Next there is the unbelievable complexity of PCs today. Just like your car engine no longer resembles the simple designs of the 1950s so too the PC. Unless you work with trouble shooting everyday there is no way you can avoid making mistakes. Lastly, Google more often than not has bad advice! Search results are not checked for accuracy in any way. Many, many times I have seen really dangerous advice as well as outright falsehood. Many companies pay Google to recommend their products. "Mr. PC CureAll can Fix, (put your error message here)".

Quick Tip-Bit: When you first see an error message make a "Screen Print". On your keyboard is a key labeled Prt Scrn or something similar. When you hit this button a picture of the whole screen is put in the "clipboard". Now open a blank document, (Word, Wordpad, etc) and do a "Paste". Now save this document and email it to I will look at it for you. Or call Dean Hancy at PC Bits. 763-360-2163. I just might save you some time and money.

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