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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Computer Tip: Don’t lose your CDs

Listen to the audio version of this tip

There is a chronic problem faced by many of my clients and I assume it effects nearly everyone who buys a computer. In our excitement to start using a new computer, we forget entirely about the disks and manuals that came with it.

When we open up the new computer, it looks so perfect, so complete. Like a new car, we don’t want to have think about oil changes, tire pressure or anything else. We just want to get in and drive. Unfortunately, in our joy, we often forget to put the owner’s manual in the glove box.

Fast forward a year. Your computer is acting a bit strange, maybe you have been infected with some spyware or perhaps, horror of horrors, your hard drive has failed. It happens. Fixing these issues is probably going to require the recovery disks that came with your computer...but where are they now?!

Without the physical CD’s that came with your computer, you are in for a very nasty surprise. You are going to have to work with your computer manufacturer to get a replacement disk or go out and buy a brand new copy of Windows. Ouch! Even worse, your computer may have come with a disk of drivers and applications. This software is often needed to allow your modem, network card, screen, CD Burner or other devices work with Windows. If this disk is missing, you will have to find some way to download the drivers from the web, but the bundled applications are probably gone forever.

So, how do you prevent this problem, even years after you buy your computer? The answer is actually quite simple. Look around your house, find a nice sturdy box and designate it the “computer box.” This will hold every disk, every manual, every extra cable that enters your house. With my clients, I often use the keyboard box that came with the computer. It is a decent size and usually has a lid that can be closed. It doesn’t really matter what you use though, as long as you have 1 box, 1 place to look for items when you need them. It could be a file box, plastic tub, whatever you have on hand. Now, instead of having to search everywhere for disks or manuals, you have one place to turn for all your needs.

There is no need to worry about categorizing or filing the information in the box. I find that the simple chronological arrangement of “new stuff goes on the top” works just fine. You probably won’t remember the date you bought some piece of equipment, but you can usually remember that it was before the camcorder and after the cordless phone.

Save yourself time, money and frustration. Create a computer box today, use it to stash all your computer related items and then put it somewhere accessible so you can find it when you need it. This simple action can go a long way towards improving your experience with all of the technology that enters your home.

Do you have a question or comment on this or other computer questions? Email them to myword@welchwrite.com or post them as comments using the Comments link below.

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