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March 22, 2010 | 12:00 a.m. CST
It’s 3 a.m., and you’ve been working on that oh-so-important project all night. Whether it’s for your overbearing boss or your crazy professor, it’s always something you should have started weeks ago. As the deadline nears, your computer tragically crashes, dies or takes a bath in your coffee. Take a breath. Stay calm. Please don’t cry. Vox has your back.
If you just want your PC fixed, and you don’t care how it’s done as long as it gets done, take the laptop to Columbia Computer Center. Drop your problem off, and walk away. The experts will take care of it with minimal hassle. You can wait for it to get fixed, but if it’s a more extreme problem, it could take anywhere from a day to a week to get the parts.
Contact: 442-9445 | 1122 Lakeview Ave.
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Many tragedies can be avoided, and a computer crash is no different. With a bit of mindfulness on your part, you can extend the life of your laptop and save yourself a few tears.
1. Watch what you’re downloading: A tip from Wren is to maintain the computer’s insides from the get-go. Don’t overload it with too many programs because it will slow it down.
2. One little shock: Be careful next time you pick up your flash drive. When inserting it into your computer, a small static shock can cause the motherboard to reboot itself, which isn’t good for its long-term health.
3. The most common repair: If you think your computer has picked up a virus, immediately hit the power button. Do not try to close any pop-up windows because miscreants will sometimes stick the execute button in place of the close button. Clicking on it or even waving over it with your mouse can activate the virus. (Speaking of shutting down your computer, Hutchinson recommends turning off your computer whenever you’re not using it because even a small drop can cause damage.)
4. Put the hair dryer down: You shouldn’t have food or drink around your computer in the first place, especially soda, which can be corrosive. If you do spill, the best thing to do is remove the battery as quickly as you can, Bellman says.
5. Stormy weather: Make sure your computer is plugged into a surge protector. After every thunderstorm that rips through the area, Burghard says three or four people will come into MacXprts with fried boards.
Business hours are fine for people who finish their projects weeks in advance, but for many, procrastination is a way of life. So when computers fail, fixing it quickly becomes all the more urgent. Ernie Wren of Ernie’s Computer Sale & Repair works by appointment.
Ernie’s Computer Sale & Repair
Contact: 442-4990 | 1848 Old US-48
Wes Morris of At Your PC Service also works around the clock and will come to your office or home. He helps with everything from annoying error messages to failing hard drives.
Contact: At Your PC Service | 864-5076
Hours: No set hours, call any time.
Bellman Computer Repair also makes house calls. Owner Michael Bellman has a pick-up and delivery service.
Contact: 424-9585 | 5970 West Hatton Chapel Road
Hours: Flexible hours, call any time.
It’s not easy being a Mac. Few shops in Columbia service them, but MacXprts, located in the Village of Cherry Hill, deals exclusively with Apple users. Workers will come in after-hours or on Sundays for emergency repairs, Duane Burghard says.
Contact: 446-2776 | 2001 Corona Road, Ste. 205
Hours: Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Another Mac-repairing option is Bellman Computer Repair. Bellman works with both Macs and PCs. He also specializes in helping the computer illiterate make sense of their machines without getting too caught up in tech speak.
You forgot to take your flash drive out of your pocket, or you accidentally threw it in the washing machine. It happens to the best of us, but fear not. Chances are the contents inside can be saved. The Columbia Computer Center can take care of it, but it’ll take a bit of time, so don’t expect it to happen in a pinch.
Yes, do it yourself. Morris says that everyone can repair his or her own computer, even the more difficult pieces such as the hard drive. The best resource, Morris says, is the ever-reliable Google. Type in your problem or error code, and wade through the junk until you find something that works.