Disclaimer: This is not mine. I found this on the internet at cracked.com and it is so true that I thought I would clean it up a bit and share it with everyone. I would not go and try to find the original as it is chalked full of pop-ups and bad language that I didn't need to repeat on my blog post here.
So, before I touch your computer, friend who may or may not do me a favor in return for this free repair job, here's what you should know:
1. Future Computer Problems Are Not Automatically My Fault
This computer is yours. You know exactly who has used it. It is in its current condition without any outside interference, especially from me. I, on the other hand, am about to spend several hours of my time trying to get it back into the condition it was in before you or someone you love screwed it up. So, two months down the line if I get a call from you, saying, "That program you installed messed up my computer." I will beat you until it causes hydrogen fusion. Or at least I will imagine myself doing it.
2. Assigning Blame is Not a Priority
The subject of who is to blame for your screwed up computer is sure to come up. There are a couple of reasons -- one, some people, usually douche bags, live in a world where everything is somebody's fault. The computer can't just break. Somebody has to have broken it. Nothing "just happens," right?
But other times it's just that whoever's computer I'm working on wants to make sure I know that they didn't screw it up. It's, "I told my son not to install that Firefox thing." Yes, Firefox broke your computer, not the 27 "free screensavers" websites that each came with their own toolbar, or the hundreds and hundreds of sketchy porn sites.
3. Don't Ask Me How to Make Your 10-Year-Old PC Faster
"I just bought this game, and my computer won't run it. What's wrong?"
If your computer is more than five or six years old, the answer is most likely going to be: "You need to buy a new one." No, I can't upgrade it, you bought it at Wal-Mart and one reason you got it so cheap was that the motherboard has absolutely no place to add any components.
"Can't you just put more memory in it?" NO! I CAN'T!
4. Toolbars Are Bad News
The first thing I'm going to do when I start poking around on your machine is open Internet Explorer and Firefox, and the number of toolbars I find there will tell me everything I need to know about the problems I'll be encountering and what caused them. And I'm going to uninstall them all.
But I bring this to your attention because from now on, when you download anything, pause for a moment while you're blindly and rapidly clicking "next" on each window that pops up, and look for the word "toolbar" on the list of things they're asking to cram onto your computer. Uncheck it if it will let you. If it won't, just bail out of the whole thing.
5. "Wipe" Means EVERYTHING
Worse has come to worst. I get to your place, and your PC is so screwed that it won't even boot -- not even in Safe Mode. Maybe you have a boot sector virus or maybe some key files got corrupted, but one way or the other, our only troubleshooting option left is start over and do a clean install of your operating system. With an exasperated sigh, you tell me, "Yeah, fine, just wipe it and start from scratch." I ask if you're sure because that means you're about to lose everything, since you did not keep backups. You say you know. You just want to start over.
Several hours later, all of the drivers are installed. Windows is up to date. You have a new antivirus. Your system is smoking fast (well, compared to what it was). You can actually see a whole screen's worth of Internet in your browser. It's like new again.
You sit down, open up your browser and ask in horror, "Where's my email? And all of my music?! And my pictures?!"
You just told me to wipe it. Did you not know what that means? Because when I said "lose everything," I didn't mean, "lose just the bad stuff." I meant every freaking thing. In some cases, this is a breakdown in communication. The person has heard a "computer guy" use the term "wipe" before, and they're just repeating it. Trying to connect with you by using terms you're familiar with -- even if they're not. "Yeah, 'wipe,' like when you're cleaning a window, right? You wipe it off?"
Or, they figure I couldn't have wiped everything because, look, Windows is still there. Hey, maybe that other stuff is still hiding somewhere, too!
No, Swordfish, you didn't keep any of that important stuff on any kind of a backup drive, you kept it all on the exact same bit of hardware you have been dragging through a stinking gauntlet of adware, spyware and Trojans. So, you're starting from scratch. Think of it as a second chance. A fresh start; to clean up all off those bad habits, and to treat your computer like the crucial yet fragile tool that it is.
See you again in about three months.