My kitchen computer last Saturday stopped working.  The screen went black and the only action it showed came from my mouse, showing up as a white arrow. The computer wasn’t particularly old, but had a checkered past.  It came into my possession as a replacement for a previous laptop that some repair person had lifted by the screen leaving a permanent thumb print.  The repair place then apologized and transferred all my files to a functioning new laptop. This was about five years ago and now the replacement looked dead. Should I chance another repair? Do I really have to fix the computer?

                  Do I fix it?

Currently I have a service that claims I can call them any time, twenty-four hours a day, all year, for any computer issue.  But my first instinct was to throw the machine away.  Counting its previous laptop incarnation, the device must have held ten or more years of junk.  Its screen held numerous icons I couldn’t identify. Wasn’t it time not to fix the computer, but simply buy a new one?

I called my service and was greeted courteously by a technician. He said he was in New Jersey, but he sounded like Bombay or New Delhi, and knew his stuff.   But he couldn’t work miracles. He couldn’t even take control of the machine as it was completely unresponsive.

Over the telephone he directed me to turn the laptop on and off, hit various f-buttons, and follow directions. We did this several times, sometimes getting long menus in a computer language I don’t understand. Sometimes the screen went blue and I was told the machine was in repair mode.  Whenever I hit the repair directive, the screen went back to black. After an hour, my man in New Jersey realized that just hitting the victim wasn’t going to revive it.

“Do you have another computer?” he asked.

“Yes, but it’s up a flight of stairs, not really near this one.”

“We have to reload the operating system.  Do you have a disk for that?”

              Help the Techie!

I, of course, had no disk, since this laptop had been delivered to me fully functional, with all my files transferred, no questions asked. When I told him “no”, he asked if I could get a flash drive, which I did. I then went up the stairs, turned on a desktop, of which he managed to take control. He said, “This will take a little time.”

I asked, “But what will happen to my files? I use this computer to play music. By wireless it connects to speakers everywhere in my house.  I also download photos from my iPhone using iTunes, even though it’s a PC. Also, I know its old. Its Windows-7; I’ve seen it and I don’t want Windows-8.” I clearly had doubts and he responded, reassuringly, “We will fix everything and download all the software you need. We won’t give you Windows-8. I’m now leaving you with another technical person.”

Over the rest of the morning and afternoon I watched both computers, moving the flash drive back and forth, taking directions from three techies, and getting a pretty good physical workout marching up and down the stairs. At about 7 pm I received the final directive to put the flash drive in the laptop.

To my surprise, it showed life and booted up. For the next four hours, as directed by my original techie, I hit various keys on the laptop until about 11:30 pm.  I finally told him, “I’m very old and need some sleep.”

He seemed surprised and said, “Just leave the machine on and go to sleep. The laptop needs to download 195 updates. I’ll call you in the morning.” We agreed to 8 am.

He called promptly and asked me to turn on the machine. It booted up quickly, but had no applications or files on it. The machine had done its 195 updates and turned itself off. My techie then proceeded to take over the laptop. He connected it to the internet, to my printer, downloaded my browser, iTunes and speaker software, and set up my home screen so I can access my email.

By 2 pm, I had a machine that was more like a new computer than a repaired one. I’ve never had one that looked so clean and was so fast and easy to use. It operates on Windows-7 which I’m sort of used to.

On the other hand, I feel as though I’ve done a week of heavy labor.  Buying a new computer would have been easier, though I’d still be trying to add software. It took nearly two days, but I’m glad I decided to fix the computer.