What to Do when your Computer Craps Out

It’s every student’s worst nightmare.

You turn on your laptop, expecting everything to be in proper working order and all you get is a blank screen – or worse, the blue screen of death. Maybe you spilled coffee on the keyboard, or dropped your Macbook down the stairs.

However, it happened, your laptop just crapped out on you and you have assignments to complete, tests to study for, and a paper to write.

So now what?

The first thing we all do is panic. What could make more sense in a time like this? Computers are expensive to replace. Even the cheapest models cost several hundred dollars, and this can feel like thousands sucked out of your college fund and living expenses.

But at some point, you’ll have to pull yourself together and find solutions. So here are a few survival tips for that unfortunate moment, when your laptop craps out on you in the middle of the semester.

Back up your Information

Not counting accidental ‘deaths’, most computers don’t just crap out unexpectedly. There are many tell-tale signs leading up to that final moment when the computer takes its last figurative breath.

Maybe it started to get slow, overheat, or just act strangely. Maybe the infamous blue screen of death popped up in class one day. These are great indicators that it’s time to back up your information.

With the popularity of cloud computing, this is fairly easy. Back up important school documents to Google Drive or Dropbox. If you have unlimited online storage, then save everything to the cloud. For those of you with limited storage, do physical backups on an external hard drive, a flash drive, or even your tablet and phone.

Search your hard drive thoroughly as over time, we often forget to use designated folders and save things in the most unexpected places.

Ask IT and Computer Science Majors for Help

In college, whenever I had computer problems, my first course of action was to take a trip to the School of Computing and Information Technology. The computer science kids could remedy anything. And since they were accustomed to pulling computers apart and fitting them back together, they also often had parts I could use.

Of course, you probably won’t have the same luck as a stranger. I spent most of my lunch breaks with the computer science students. You could say I was an honorary com-sci student myself. However, if you haven’t made those connections, then try asking around for who’s the best, and when you find them, offer a small fee.

When allowing strangers to fix your device, remember to be present at all times. Keep in mind also that you’re allowing a student to fix your computer at your own risk.

Use the Library Computers

If the computer science students can’t fix your laptop, and you can’t afford to have professionals take a look, then use the library computers while you save for a new one. Every college library comes equipped with computers you can use to complete schoolwork, though many may restrict you from using social media, or downloading content.

When using library computers, be careful about plugging in your external devices or you may pick up a virus. If you have word or excel documents you need to read or edit, transfer them to a Google document and edit them there.

Get a Bluetooth Keyboard

Library computers are definitely a great help, but will do little to solve your mobile computing needs. The interesting fact we often forget is that we carry around mobile computers in our hands every day, in the form of smartphones and tablets.

These are great for reading and even taking notes. However, to kick things up a notch, get a Bluetooth keyboard. Pair this with Microsoft Word or another word processing application and you’ll be well on your way to covering the basic tasks you need done for school.

Remember to purchase keyboards specifically made for your operating system – be it Windows, Android, iOS, or something else. You’re usually able to snag these offline for less than $20.

Buy a Cheap Replacement

While the other alternatives definitely help to keep you afloat, nothing beats having your own personal computer to get work done. If it seems unlikely that you’ll get a great new laptop anytime soon, then it’s time to really buckle down and save for a cheap replacement, or suck it up and call mom and dad.

Budget brands that make inexpensive laptops with a sound build, include Toshiba, Acer, and Asus. If you specifically need an Apple computer for school then this can prove more difficult. However, if you check around online and even in local pawn shops, you just might find a deal that’s worth your while.

Switch to Desktop Computing

Laptops are great for mobile use, but one of the main downfalls is that they get bumped and bruised during transportation. This causes physical damage to laptops over time, no matter how expensive and well-built they are, and no matter how careful you are.

For this reason, heavy users should consider keeping a cheap laptop handy for mobile computing, and saving the big tasks for a desktop computer at home.

Desktop computers are less likely to overheat. They are also easily customized, and therefore easier to fix and upgrade. They also tend to do a much better job at big tasks like rendering, and even playing your favorite video games.

The learning process at colleges are becoming more and more automated, compelling students to rely heavily on personal computers. So when your laptop craps out on you, it can definitely begin to feel like the end of the world. These tips help you keep a clear head, and find alternatives to ensure you get your work done.

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. Norah says:

    This is great advice, Alexis, and not just for students but for everyone. I have just replaced my laptop. I saw the warning signs and knew the writing was on the wall (or would be if I didn’t get myself a replacement fast). I save everything to Dropbox now, which is great. It pays to upload content as you create though. I had only recently started using Dropbox so not everything had been uploaded. When I tried uploading it all to transfer to my new laptop, I found the process very slow. If I’d realised, it may have been more efficient to save to external hard drives and then upload to the new computer and Dropbox from there. We live and learn. Sometimes it good to have the benefit of others’ experiences rather than learn the hard way. Thank you for sharing yours to make our processes easier.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Norah! You’re right. Even outside of college, we can definitely use these to “survive” until we get a replacement. I’m sorry to hear your laptop gave up the ghost!

      Thanks again for reading and commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Lynn Thaler says:

    I always go into a freak out mode when my computer crashes. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We all do Lynn, even when we do have a replacement, because so many of us are behind on backing up those files haha

      Like

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