Computer emergencies – Part 1 of 2

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Do you know how you react when suddenly you find yourself in an emergency situation?  Some people can think calmly and do what needs to be done in spite of the chaos that may be all around them.  Other people freeze up or panic and don’t really know what they should be doing – and by the time they figure it out, it could be too late for them to do anything.


Emergency tv show

When I was a kid, this was my Saturday night


What I’m talking about today is not a car accident or some other life-threatening situation – in those cases your only option might be to call 911 (or whatever the emergency number is in your country) and wait for the professionals to arrive.

What we’re covering today are computer emergencies.  In fact, I will be talking about four specific situations that happen on a regular basis – two today, and two this coming Monday.  Perhaps you have been involved in one or more of these already.  If not, pay close attention – your turn might be coming up!

emergency2Computer emergency #1: Spilled drink
It’s late at night, you’re working on your laptop on an important project (or playing on Facebook) and you have a glass of wine/Coke/coffee/water nearby.  Somehow it gets bumped and suddenly your laptop keyboard is covered in your drink of choice.

How to react:  First thing you should do is unplug the power cord (if it’s plugged in).  Then, remove the battery.  You need to stop the flow of electrical current as quickly as you can.  Then, use a dry hand towel to soak up as much of the liquid as you can see.

Avoid the temptation to wait a few minutes and see if it will power up again.  That could do more damage, since there is still liquid inside – probably pooling up on the motherboard.  Liquids, especially water, conduct electricity.  So trying to turn it back on before it’s completely dry is likely to just do further damage.  Take it to a computer professional to get it back in order.

(If you are using your desktop computer, and the only thing that got wet was the keyboard, then it’s no big deal – just go buy a new keyboard and be more careful next time.)

How to prevent this:  Easiest way to prevent this from happening is to follow a strict rule – no drinks near computers.  Or, if you must have your water nearby, make it a bottled water and keep the lid on except for when you’re drinking.  Very few people follow this rule, which is why most are surprised when their computer takes a bath.


computer emergencyComputer emergency #2: Hard drive failing
You turn on your computer, and you get the message: “Hard drive failure is imminent”.  Your computer’s hard drive has an internal warning system, and if it detects that it’s heading toward a crash, it will try to warn you.  It might finally die a few days from now, or it could die a few minutes from now – you really have no way of knowing.

How to react: If there is anything on this computer that is important, that’s not backed up (such as Documents, Pictures, Music, emails, etc.), turn the computer off immediately and don’t turn it back on.  The more you use this computer, the more chance you will destroy the data that you need to save.  Bring the computer to your local computer pro so that he can get the data off the drive before it actually does crash.  Then, in most cases, you can put in a new hard drive and reinstall Windows, then restore your files back from this emergency backup that was just done.

How to prevent this: Frankly, there’s not a whole lot you can do.  Hard drives crash, and it’s happening more frequently now than it used to.  The latest stats I’ve heard is that 80% of new hard drives will fail within the first 3 years of use.  You could run a hard drive repair program on your drive as part of an ongoing maintenance program.  That’s something that I do on my own computer, but I’m a tech.  The average computer user isn’t going to do that.

While you might not be able to prevent the drive from crashing, you can prevent that situation from becoming a disaster.  Just set up an automated backup process.  I’ll set this up for you and I don’t even charge for my time to do it.  I can set it up remotely in about 10 minutes.  Contact me for details.

Next week: Two other types of computer emergencies that you should be ready to handle (click to read).

listen to my podcast in iTunes

Share this post