I had a busy month. Tending my garden, finishing up my second book, and some other projects consumed my time, leaving less important pursuits such as blogging aside. And then in the middle of the month, my computer crashed, and I learned a few things. I'd like to tell this story in detail, in case my experience can be helpful to others.
In 2006 I purchased an HP Pavilion a1510n desktop computer with a 200 gigabyte hard drive for my work, which was mostly writing and a little AutoCAD drafting. It turned out to be a very reliable machine that met my expectations, serving me well for four years. I expected it to last about that length of time before going "kaput" and forcing me to buy a new PC. Well, I'd noticed over the past several months or so that it was taking longer to boot up when I turned it on every day. I knew that this was happening because I was adding more and more programs and files to the hard drive, but somehow it never dawned on me to do anything about it. I figured that with the 200 gigabyte hard drive I still had plenty of storage space. So one day last month, I unplugged my computer to protect it from possible damage by a severe thunderstorm. When I plugged it back in, it wouldn't boot up properly, but kept trying to restart itself over and over. I took it to a repair shop, hoping the motherboard or some lesser component was the culprit and I'd be able to recover my files from the hard drive. It turned out that the computer's hard drive had gone bad and that none of my files were retrievable. I lost more than 700 pictures, but thankfully I had nearly all of my important files backed up on CDs. I asked the technician how much it would be to replace the old hard drive with a new one of 167 to 200 gigabyte capacity and he quoted me $300.00. He recommended buying a new computer. I called HP and asked how much they would charge to put in a new hard drive, and they quoted me $500.00. I priced comparable PCs and found the new HP Pavilion p6550z for only $450.00. Buying a new computer looked like the thing to do, especially considering that I paid $600.00 four years ago for a computer with only half the capabilities of the latest model. But before forking over the cash, I decided to call one other repair shop I knew of further away with an excellent reputation and ask the technician there his price for installing a new 200-gigabyte hard drive. He said he could put a new one in in three hours for $150.00, or for just ten more dollars he could put in a 500-gigabyte hard drive, with a three-year warranty either way. Sold! I took my PC to his shop and he installed a new hard drive with 500 gigabytes. I ended up having to wait five and a half hours, but figured it was worth it to get my PC working again. I didn't want anything fancy, just the basic capabilities I needed for my work. When I returned home and set up the computer, I was quite pleased with the result--I found it not only worked, it ran faster and better than it ever did before. Within a day or so I had all my programs reinstalled and was back in business. The thing runs like a champ now with the new 500 gigabyte hard drive. It feels like having a new computer, and all for the fraction of the cost of a new computer.
I learned one valuable lesson from the technician at the first repair shop. He hinted that putting lots of pictures on a hard drive is a recipe for a crash, even if the drive seems to have a lot of space. I did have an awful lot of pictures on there, so that must have been a precipitating factor in the crash. From now on I will store most of my pictures on CDs rather than on the computer's hard drive. Another lesson I learned is that getting your old computer fixed--especially if it's just one component that's bad--can be preferable to buying a new computer. I'm quite happy with my repaired PC and look forward to using it for many additional years.