Independent Thinking Blog

3 Business Lessons from a Computer Meltdown

Just call me Daria, Destroyer of Digital Devices.

In the past six months, I have set up two desktop (all-in-one) computers and two laptops—because the first one in each category turned out to be defective. While this added up to a colossal time suck, I did take away three valuable business lessons.

1. Being tech savvy is overrated.

Storm Troopers

I started out working in DOS, so operating systems don’t intimidate me. This is a good thing, except when you have a hardware problem. When Computer No. 1 seemed glitchy, my first instinct was to assume it was a solvable software issue. (Of course, brand new computers shouldn’t have software issues. ) Before I resigned myself to the fact that I’d purchased a lemon, I’d made two calls to tech support and installed and reinstalled key software at least twice. Oh, and the darned thing even fried my mouse USB.

The good news is that I am teachable. When the new laptop fan was working overtime and the battery was draining really fast, my instincts told me I had a hardware problem. I just didn’t listen to them quickly enough.

2. You get what you pay for.

Scattered Gold Coins

My first laser jet printer cost close to $1,000; my first flat-screen monitor was $750.  In other words, I generally opt for quality computer / office equipment. If you want to play with the big boys (and girls), you need to look like you belong. While the price of most office equipment has come way down, cheap is rarely your best option.

My new laptop is a Microsoft Surface Pro—and this turned out to be a good thing when the computer wouldn’t turn on and the document I’d been working on for two days straight was buried in the hard drive. After spending my Sunday morning with the awesome tech guys at the Microsoft Store, I think I understand why Mary Deming Barber raves about the Apple Store’s business tech support. Microsoft is much maligned—but the stores are set up right. Hands on, solve-the-problem approach. The tech guy finally succeeded in getting the laptop powered on so that I was able to retrieve my documents. (Whew.) And they swapped out the defective device. Problem solved relatively quickly.

3. Back up everything.

Papers Stacked Up

I’m paranoid about computer glitches and a tad obsessive about backing up stuff I’m working on. I’ll often rename a document several times during the day so I don’t lose all my work if a file gets corrupted. I’ll save copies to my email—or email myself a copy. I’ll backup to Google Drive (and, less frequently, to my external hard drive).

You can’t back up documents enough. Until you don’t. I don’t know why I didn’t back up the latest version—or any version after Friday morning. But I got very lucky that the laptop finally powered on. While luck is a good thing, a backed up file would have been better.

Feature photo by bandarji (Flickr).
Storm troopers by xlrider (Flickr); gold coins by duncan (Flickr); and paper by johann dreo (Flickr). 

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