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Typical Computer Failures

The Computer Corner

By Charles Miller

Personal computers are an integral part of modern day-to-day life. They are also mechanical devices that can break down, and there are few things more frustrating than having that happen. Computer failures run the gamut from simple user errors to a total system failure that trashes your personal data. Fortunately, almost any computer problem can be fixed by an information technology professional. It might be helpful to break down some general classes of problems and the available paths for remediation.

On the low end of the scale are simple user errors that can often be resolved by searching the Internet for one of the many knowledge bases containing answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs). Even if you need the help of a professional, these kinds of problems can sometimes be resolved through a telephone consultation. The next level up the ladder is an in-home service call by a technician. This action would be necessary to resolve issues such as hardware failure or software configuration errors. Typical problems causing system freeze-ups, software conflicts, or malware problems usually take an hour or more to fix. Be aware that no honest technician will give a firm price quote until after a hands-on examination of the problem.

If the diagnostic of your computer indicates a hardware problem, then there is the next step up the ladder. Hard disk failures are the most common hardware problem. Replacing a crashed hard disk, parts and labor, can easily cost as much as half the cost of buying a new computer, because the prices of new laptops have plummeted. It makes little sense to spend a lot fixing up an old worn out computer when a new one can be bought so inexpensively. Trustworthy technicians will recommend this course if they see the lucre for repairs going anywhere near the cost of replacement.

Network issues call for a professional having specialized experience in networking solutions. So what is a network issue? You do not have one if you are able to reboot your router and/or modem and fix your Internet connection problem. If that does not work, you may have a network issue, and even the simplest of home networks are so complicated that most users are unable to fix them on their own. When addressing network issues it is important to deal with a professional who has sufficient experience in the field as well as experience working with Internet Service Providers in your local community. If you try to do it yourself and rely on telephone support, you may find that the well-meaning tech person in India who is reading from the US instructions may give you advice that is dead wrong for Mexico.

Data recovery is the most expensive and heartbreaking of all services offered by IT professionals. It is a shame, because for only a few pesos you could have backed up your important data to a CD or to a USB flash drive. Recovering lost data requires special software, hardware, and especially, expertise. The cost to recover lost files from a crashed hard drive can reach stratospheric levels, so please back up your important data.

Charles Miller is a freelance computer consultant and a frequent visitor to San Miguel since 1981 and now practically a full time resident. He may be contacted at 415 101-8528 or email FAQ8 (at)


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