Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
This is Leo Notenboom for askleo.info.
Earlier this week I joked in an article that I knew of at least a couple of people that had solved their software problem - a fairly complex virus and spyware infestation - by simply replacing the computer. Even a worst case reformat and reinstall of Windows could have solved the problem, of course, but a lack of understanding and declining cost of new computers (and perhaps an over eager salesman) could actually make this seem appealing.
We've dealt with this issue in other areas of life. Many products have become disposable commodities. You don't fix a toaster, for example, you throw it away and buy a new one.
Computers have been there as well, though in a different way. While toaster technology is relatively mature and stationary, computers are getting faster and more capable every year. Repairing an older computer, without even factoring in the cost of the repair, is often much less attractive than simply purchasing a new one.
With the cost of computers coming down, low end machines that are quite sufficient for many average users are getting close to that "disposable commodity" status. Depending on they type of failure unless you're a do-it-yourselfer, the cost of parts plus the cost of the expertise to perform the work can often quickly exceed the cost of just junking it and getting a new one.
Perhaps even more surprisingly is that it doesn't always have to be hardware that pushes someone over the edge. I'm in no way advocating solving software problems by replacing your hardware, but I can certainly understand the frustration that might lead to it.
If you have serious software problem, finding competent and more importantly affordable assistance - assistance that can actually properly diagnose and repair any issues you might be having - is incredibly difficult. Today's systems all pretty much assume that the purchaser can perform some fairly serious maintenance.
For example folks rarely actually have to install operating systems any more; most machines come pre-configured. Until you have a serious problem and the customer service person on the phone tells you that the best solution is to reinstall. That may be trivial for some, but it's extremely daunting for many, and an investment of time for anyone.
The problem isn't there should be more locally accessible computer repair facilities, though there should be, the problem is that even if there were, the cost of paying a technician to do this work for you correctly compared to replacement cost is approaching that point where "oh, just junk it and start over" might not sound as far fetched.
It's a complex situation for the average user, and I don't have a clear answer.
I'd love to hear what you think. Visit askleo.info and enter 11389 in the go to article number box to access the show notes and to leave me a comment. While you're there, browse over 1,100 technical questions and answers on the site.
Till next time, I'm Leo Notenboom, for askleo.info.
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