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Don’t Be Afraid of Your Computer


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27 comments on “Don’t Be Afraid of Your Computer”

  1. NO! Not at all am I afraid of my machine(s). What your are saying is what my buddy said to me about 10 – 12 years ago. He said “try things, you can’t harm it”.
    Well that’s not all true. I have had problems restoring machines, but in the long run I got them back up and running. Either by restoring them or a lot of goggling. I do what one of your assistants asked you, I try it out, do it, get it done, or I fine a way to do it. To me I’s fun, and it’s what I would like to someday do for a living ( Lord willing ). To give you an example of me not being afraid of my machine, let me tell you about the one I’m on now. I got a older Dell Inspiron 560 from a buddy of mine. When to boot it up and it would freeze at the starting windows part of the boot. Not knowing what was wrong, I restored it from the restore partition. Same thing happened. Replaced the hdd with a ssd. Reinstalled windows 7 using the key code on the case, problem solved. From there I replaced the cpu from a pentium to a two core dual, went from 4 Gig of ddr3 ( yes ddr3 ) ram to 6, and just for the fun of it moved the hole system out of the dell case and moved it into a fractal design case. And last but to least, last night I was one of those people that was chomping at the bit and installed windows 10. This is my test machine and I’m going to wait a few months to upgrade my other machines with clean installs.
    So, I think its safe to say “NO”, I’m not afraid of my machines! Oh ya, I did make a system image restore dvd and repair cd incase I want to revert back to windows 7.

    Joe J.

  2. I’ll admit it, my computer is smarter than I. If I can unfreeze, escape, reboot without consequences, I consider it a good day. At your recommendation, I’m waiting a few weeks (months) to download Windows 10, but it really wouldn’t matter if I did it now. I only use about 25% of the goodies that Windows 8.1 is offering, and I know Windows 10 will have the same results. Unfortunately, this old dog finds it hard to learn new tricks.

  3. I am some what afraid, however your video made me realize I can do it with making sure I have backed up. Thanks!
    There are some things have ever that I have not been able to fix and it drives me nuts.
    I use Open Office, almost everyday. On my new laptop, I get a crash every time I open a text doc. and need to
    do a recovery. I have googled for answers (which I usually do when I have a problem and that usually works)
    however this has left me up short, I have searched my laptop and can on find a Untitled doc. I don’t know where else
    to look. I am 75 yrs old and had never even sat in front of a computer until I was 60. I bought my first iMac , took it home
    set it up and away I went. I love the computer. Taught myself everything I know, but watching and listening to every thing
    I can….

    • uninstall and reinstall Open Office.
      Or switch to Kingsoft Office. Just be very careful to download it from kingsoftstore(dot)com
      Other sites add junk.

  4. To add to what others are saying, my chief frustration is not being able to undo something in Windows I might or might not have meant to do. Example: I research & create a lot of files with cross-refs. Somehow managed to lose the “Send Shortcut to Desktop” choice from the dropdown menu. Google it online and as usual, either the tips are out of date or give conflicting advice or require a convoluted process to repair a simple process. Not a geek, I need a tool not a plaything. So after losing half the morning I cut my losses and settle for “Create Shortcut” which I now have to drag & drop to desktop & other links while it’s on the to-do list for update by my local geeks. Small nuisance but one more unnecessary glitch. Bottom line: Microsoft makes it far too easy to mess up and too often far too hard to correct.

  5. Okay Leo, you finally convinced me!

    How many times have I heard you say “backup” – scores, hundreds? and did I? of course not! But this time what you said about trying things and even if it turned into a disaster it could still be resolved with a full image backup – just made so much sense!

    So there you go, I’ve been a subscriber for years and yet because you hit just exactly the right note this time you have a convert! Look forward to many more of your talks 🙂

  6. Leo,
    In your article “Don’t be afraid of your computer” you advise folks to “backup” their work. In simple terms, please teach me the easiest way to do this. I am not what you might call computer savvy, so please make the instructions easy to follow. Thank you.

  7. I am definitely a do-it-yourself kind of guy, with pretty much everything I do. I have made a few mistakes that cost me more to get fixed than it would have to let someone just do it right the first time, but overall I come out way ahead. It’s especially true of my computers. Ever since my first computer (which had two 5 1/4″ floppy drives and no hard drive) I’ve been poking at them and trying things out, and generally keeping them in good shape, to the extent that friends will come to me for help with theirs.

    If there’s one thing that scares me into not doing more than I do, it’s that I’m self taught, doing my research as I go, and there is often incomplete, inaccurate and/or conflicting information available to choose from. (I’ve come to depend on a couple of trusted websites, Ask Leo! being top of the list.)

    One other thing I’ll mention: While backing up is unquestionably the #1 rule, the #2 rule should be: learn how to use your backup now, before you need it. Nothing is more frustrating than a non-responsive computer that you don’t know how to resuscitate, even though you know you have the tools. Believe me.

    • Knowing how to restore from a backup is a very good idea. But just having the tools puts you miles ahead. A worst case scenario would be that you’d have to take it into a shop and have them restore it for you. but I believe with the instructions Leo gives, it would be pretty easy to follow his instructions. You can get his book for the backup program you are using. You can print out these articles he has on restoring your computer. That way you can have it for when you can’t get into your computer to read it and don’t have another device to read it on.

      • Thanks Mark. I’ve seen his material on backing up with Macrium Reflect, but I don’t use it. (I’m using AOMEI Backupper.) I hadn’t seen the other article you linked to. I’ll check it out.

        • I tried out Aomei backup for a while and found it very intuitive and easy to use. I found it simpler than Macrium, although Macrium has more powerful scheduling options. If I didn’t have a paid version of Macrium, I’d be using Aomei Backupper or EaseUS Todo Backup.

  8. I’ve been working with computers since before the days of the PC. I miss the days of working with command line DOS commands and creating little programs to automate things in Batch files. So, no, I’m not afraid of my computer. I’m more afraid of what the new program I am installing will do to my computer. But I venture on fearlessly.

    Can’t say the same for my wife. Every time a dialog pops up that she hasn’t seen before or wasn’t expecting, she immediately calls for me. She is afraid if she answers the question wrong, all hell will break loose. And, if I haven’t seen the dialog either and don’t tell her what to do immediately, she gets frustrated and closes the top of her laptop then storms off. No patients. But that’s because she usually is doing something when she is tired or under the gun to complete.

    Leo, love your videos. Keep up the great work. Got to go. Time to start the backup.

  9. The things that scare me are recurring problems that seemingly defy logic.
    For months I suffered BSOD crashes which I initially attributed to a video uploaded to my PC from a friends tablet (since that was the first time it happened).
    Researching the blue screen data was exasperating and useless. Even replacing the hard drive didn’t fix it, which pointed me toward other hardware.
    Did the only other hardware thing I was capable of doing: Removed a DIMM I had installed months before the problem started.
    THAT WORKED! But it was dumb luck.

  10. Leo,

    The reason I’ve helped so many friends and relatives with their computers is just that, they’re afraid of messing something up. Now there are those times when they’ve gotten themselves in a jam they can’t recover from but the first reason is the main one. I find that the older a person is (usually 50+ yrs old) the more afraid of technology (or operating a computer/phone etc.) is for them. Whereas their kids or grandkids are naturally curious and attempt to fly to the moon with their computers or devices.

    I tell folks of a story of my mother receiving a new microwave oven years ago and you’d thought by pressing any button on the thing was going to launch the space shuttle or an intercontinental ballistic missile. I had to use it in secret until she discovered I knew far more than what she thought I did.

    So yes, I’ve tried to get folks to not be afraid of their computers or electronics devices and for it holds for a few things and for others it’s like being afraid of the dark. It’s the fear of the unknown and an unwillingness to leave their known comfort zone. But you never learn much that way or discover anything new especially on your own. Research it and try it!

  11. All right another great topic written by Leo. Is highly encouraging to heard “Don’t be Afraid of your Computer” Is Not easy to overcome this fear, but we get to a point that we’ve to try our own fixes. I bought a used PC in 2007. After 3-months inadvertently I undo the screen saver and taskbar settings and other minor issues, that I could fixed by myself, with a bit of google searching, but I didn’t ’cause I was afraid of..

    I called right away the technician, who soldMe the PC. He fixed the malfunctions in 1/2hr. But I paid $50 for 1hr.service it happens bunch of times, until I started to do my own repairs. The last experience it took place a month ago. With a brand new (HP-W8.1-PC). Purchased in BestBuy.

    Suddenly start to freeze up and the Start menu icon didn’t open, also the AVirus wasn’t recognised by Wins security. Tried different fixes but no luck, read in an Online forum that could be a HDisk failure & trying the Cmd [“chkdsk /r /f: Scan”] could fix the issue. I opened the Cmd prompt(Amin) typed the code “chkdsk /r /f: Scan” the PC start scanning it reached 10% in 2mins.and get stuck for 12hrs.@10%..Didn’t have a [Back up disk to insert and proceed with..]

    So I tried single+double left/right clicks & nothing happens, then I turn the power off, several times, when I turned on the SCAN continuous.., then it came to mind the “Ctrl+Alt+Del” no luck, next I tried scape “ESC” it displayed a SetUp Utility Options. Among them Sys.Recovery & Factory Reset,.etc. I select & manage to make the factory Reset.

    It deleted all programs and have to configured all the settings again. But finally the PC-get to work like brand New and fixed certain bugs-That was unable to do with simple restores.. Lesson learned if I’ll take the computer to a Technician it will chargeMe a fortune for the fix. So we learnig by doing things-No by theory. Sorry for the script length Gent’s.

  12. Can’t understand why people do not back up, so easy to do now. I can still remember my first computer Commodore 64, far cry from todays machines, programs if you could buy any came on tape and downloaded via tape deck. wrote small programs in dos. I download a lot of data and store it on hard drives, I have salvaged from old computers, I have bought a case with its own power cable to fit them in. Am going to download windows 10 on one of them, will keep 7 for the time being till I see how 10 pans out. Enjoy all your posts I file them all.

  13. Don’t be hard on old-timers who are afraid of making mistakes, we learnt to write with ink pens (remember ‘blotting your copy book’?) and typewriters, where a mistake took half a second to make and several minutes to fix. We learnt to avoid mistakes, at any cost.
    Today’s learners have a ‘mistake-friendly’ environment, with spell check, the backspace key and – if all else fails – an off switch. And backups!
    I think that’s the problem elders have with computers – we’ve had a lifetime of “mistakes are for ever” and are now in an environment of “just do it”. Learning to accept mistakes as just part of the learning process (and yes, they always were) takes time – but makes for a much saner and calmer learning environment.
    Thank heavens for computers – backed up, of course !

  14. Like one or two of your posters I came to PC use late in life. I get by because I am a typist from the old days – at school we had ink-wells and pens with nibs! At work we had manual typewriters – the electric typewriter was state of the art when that came in.
    I am scared of the actions the computer software suggests – not as much as I was but there are certain actions suggested on prompt windows that I am loath to do because I don’t know how to get back to where I was. This seems a common thread amongst we ‘silver foxes’ – it makes us over-cautious.

    I still don’t have any idea of how to back up my work. I have some disks I bought for the purpose, but am scared to start.
    How does one get the back-up back? I’ve had my fair share of PC engineers visit home but at the hourly rate only the simplest problems can be paid for. That in itself is a learning curve as I now realise that some guys were really hopeless.

    I’d like to change my password after reading Leo’s article on that but apart from responding to “forgotten your password” at Sign In, I don’t know how do do it safely. It’s all very well getting the instructions in a reading pane, but one can’t print everything and I can’t remember even a few instructions. It takes me ages to read/really understand and I just want to get on with some actual “work” of e mails and researching websites.
    I am soldiering on with an elderly HP Pavilion with Windows XP and a TFTTV 17″ monitor – I am terrified of changing that set-up as I know where I am now – and the lap-top choices are so bewildering. And no Start button, and tiles ????And no proper typing keyboard! Yes, my stuff is slower than I’d like on some things.. but…
    I have an AGV paid for security system and am relying on that. I don’t do banking on line.

  15. I forgot to say that I love the internet. I’s marvellous what is at one’s fingertips. How I wish it had been invented earlier so that I grew up using it. On some websites people have designed and uploaded wonderful webpages. How do they do that I wonder?
    Of course, anyone at any time in history wishes for similar about all wonders of their age. I wish I understood more, too.

  16. Dear Leo,
    As a long time subscriber to your newsletter, I first want to thank you for all of your invaluable information and guidance over the years! I also greatly appreciate you sharing your own personal frustration (so it’s not just me!) with people who maintain that fear is the reason for failing to learn even the basics. (They rarely use “too old” because I am 70, so that doesn’t fly.) I too was fearful, but made a decision to learn about computers. I found courses that were free or relatively inexpensive at local computer stores, libraries, and an Introduction to Linux at a community college. When people (usually family members) asked me a question, I would research it for them if I didn’t know – and learned more in the process. I now refer them to you first (and explain that you are a knowledgeable AND reliable source). If (when?) that fails, I use “Let Me Google That For You” ( It provides a sarcastic reminder of what I would have to do to answer their question (Hey, I’m not Leo) and that they could do the same thing for themselves. Old or young, the question is: Do you WANT to learn?
    One family member recently asked for my opinion on purchasing a firearm. My response? Unless you are willing to spend more time learning how to handle that safely than you spent on learning how to use your computer, Don’t Buy It!!

  17. I always tell people “Don’t be afraid, be cautious”
    I find that little change in advice guides people away from blatant mistakes (deleting something) and lets them learn by poking around and trying stuff (i.e. being cautious).
    Data is king – people are afraid to lose personal data and sometimes don’t have the time or care to delve into learning about backups (even though EVERYONE should – we know this) and fear one wrong mistake will cost them changes and or data plus the time to recover it.
    In the Helpdesk industry this is known as job security 🙂

  18. I’m extremely scared of my laptop right now.
    Running windows 10, payed kaspersky, malwarebytes, and I am always scared of things happening, like a jumpscare, losing an account or a hacker.
    When my mom comes home from work I feel relieved that I can sit with her instead of using my laptop. I love my laptop and if I lost things on it I would be sad.
    I have a memory stick with all the files I don’t want to lose. But other than that I just don’t want to have accounts taken.
    If I don’t have any other source of entertainment, I’ll try to use my laptop. But I try to stay aware of things that happen and time passes a lot slower, and I don’t really have fun. I always leave something playing, like a YouTube video because for some stupid reason I think hackers won’t try to get me when I’m looking, but of course they don’t care.
    At any other times I will stay away from my laptop. I have paid subscriptions on some games so I try to play them, and because I love anime and it looks better on a larger screen, I use my laptop for that. I really do avoid my laptop as much as I can because I’m doing this on my iPad right now. When I look things up I turn on my iPad, the thing that I don’t care about and search up on there. Things like this.
    I’m not sure if I need to talk with my mom, or go to a doctor because I don’t know if this is serious, and I’m pretty sure it isn’t that bad.
    How can anyone help a super paranoid about everything person get over this and use their laptop normally?
    Also my mouse is on the timer a lot after running a scan with kaspersky. Not sure what this is and this scares me a lot as well.

    • Step one: start backing up. NOW. Seriously, if there’s data you don’t want to lose, you will lose it unless you start backing up. Enlist the help of a knowledgeable friend for this all-important first step.

  19. I’m definitely a “try it out” person! I have in place…

    1. A backup on my thumb drive of all my important files
    2. The newest version of my screen reader (I am totally blind), to give me feedback on my experiments.

    Sometimes, I have tried out excessively, such as deleting my user account and deleting a registry key that deleted the sound on my old computer.

    My latest experiments are

    1. making a batch file that says

    mnd %random%

    that, when you click on it, makes an empty folder with numbers in it.


    2. Using CTRL/Z to undo file renames/Recycle Bin deletions.



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