I received my first computer from my parents when I was 8 years old, and back then Windows XP was the operating system everyone was using.
A friend of my parents came to our house the day they purchased the computer and took care of pretty much everything that had to be done in order for the computer to function properly. He installed the Windows, he installed all the necessary drivers for everything to run the way it should have, and he even installed a few games for me.
I really had no idea what he did, and for a long while I didn’t understand how a computer worked and how to fix something once it was broken. And my computer broke many times, at least at the software level. There were always things that stopped working properly, and someone had to come to our home and help me fix them.
One of my biggest fears back then was installing a new Windows. I did not know English at all, I did not understand the process and I was simply afraid that I might do something wrong and make the computer unusable.
Years later, when I was around 13, the new computer I had stopped working. I had Windows Vista installed, and we all know what mess that was. After years of using the same operating system, everything started to run extremely slowly, and I was desperate. My main interest was playing games, and I wasn’t able to play anything while the computer was so slow.
So, one day, I got tired of just hoping that someone will come to my home to help me install a new Windows, and I tried to do it myself. I knew I had a copy of Windows XP somewhere in my house, and once I found it, I tried to replicate what I saw when other people helped me install a new Windows.
I inserted the CD into the computer, restarted it, and the installation began. I think I spent around 3 hours trying to figure out everything, and failing multiple times. I didn’t understand how to delete and create partitions, how to format them, and where to install the Windows.
After a lot of trial and error I finally managed to get it to work, ignoring the fact that I had like 3 Windows systems installed. When turning on my computer I had to choose which instance of Windows XP I wanted to run, before actually getting to use it.
But I felt “powerful” that day. I felt smart. I never thought I could do something I considered to be so complicated before, but I did, and it felt amazing. The struggle continued for a while after. I had to install the software for my graphics card and a bunch of other things, I had to setup a lot of stuff for the Internet to work, but once I was done, I was radiating with confidence.
In the years that followed, I learned how to fix and do a lot of things. I learned how to install pretty much every Windows version, from XP to Vista, to 7 to 8 and 10, and even a bunch of Linux distributions. I learned how to fix a lot of problems that appeared when it comes to computers, how to make a computer run faster by identifying which piece of software is slowing it down, and remove it (if possible), and, overall, take care of my own computer and keep it running as smoothly as possible.
Not only that, but throughout the years I kinda “built a reputation” in my circle of friends and relatives, and whenever someone had a problem with their computer, I was the guy to call. Windows installations, software errors, really weird browser extensions and toolbar “addons” that appeared “out of nowhere”, all kind of things. I was the guy to fix those.
And just to make something clear — I’m not really that great. I met some people who repaired computers a lot faster than me, and did things I had no idea were even possible. My level of knowledge is fairly limited, and the only thing I consider myself decent at is using Google well enough to find solutions for the problems I encounter.
The most important part is that in the years that passed, I didn’t have to pay anyone not even a single dollar to repair my computer. Not one. And believe me, if you ask someone to repair your computer, especially if you don’t really know anything about computers, they can charge you a lot for pretty much nothing.
I fixed computers that were running slow because of some bad driver installations, or because of a bunch of random programs running in the background that were installed by someone who didn’t know what they were installing.
Some of the people who asked me for help with their computers told me how they had to pay others a bunch of money to do in a week what I did in less than two hours, and to be honest, I don’t think it was because they didn’t know what they were doing, but because they had to make it look hard in order to justify the price their clients had to pay.
Those who don’t really know anything about computers can fall into this kind of “trap”, of being charged a lot for something very simple. For example, installing a Windows nowadays is extremely simple, and if you encounter something you don’t really know how to do, most of them time you have a good enough phone near you that you can use to search for that thing on Google and figure out what you need to do.
Yet I’ve seen people who paid others $50 to help them install a new Windows when they could’ve done it themselves.
There are times when your computer requires a little bit of extra work, when something important is broken and has to be fixed by someone with some experience in repairing computers.
But to spend hundreds of dollars to fix simple things that literally anyone can learn how to do is a little bit of a waste in my opinion. Everyone who can use Google can search for solutions to problems they have related to computers, and they can easily learn what to do in the future to solve those problems if they appear again.
Not everyone must have a passion for computers in order to learn how to do those things. You don’t need to be a genius. You just need to learn how to use Google whenever something stops working and to use the advice you see people giving online.
What’s even more important is that once you solve a problem a few times, you will remember how to solve it when it will appear again. It will get easier. You will eventually get to the point where you even learn how to install your own operating system and how to configure it so you can use it without having to pay anyone for it.
Computers are already a big part of our life, and not knowing how to keep them working just because “we don’t understand computers” is not a good excuse anymore. It’s a lot better to spend 10 minutes online searching for a solution to your problem than to pay someone $50 to spend 30 seconds removing a piece of software that was causing a problem, making it look like he did something extremely complicated.