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The Easy Computer Maintenance Kit

The Easy Computer Maintenance Kit

repair

    Computers can be fickle things. Whether you’re a zealous follower of Getting Things Done methodology or you don’t have any productivity system to speak of, these buggers can get in the way of day-to-day life so often that you might think the modern human spends more time getting technical issues fixed than they spend doing real work and getting things done. I’ve been on caught in situations where I had computer issues on a deadline far too many times, and many of those times, I was completely unprepared. Here’s a list of things I’ve found essential to have ready to go at any moment — things that all too many times, I haven’t had around. Here’s the most basic computer maintenance kit that I think any user should have.

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    1. Comprehensive Screwdriver and Torx Set

    There’s almost never a hardware maintenance, repair or upgrade situation that doesn’t require the use of a screwdriver. A good portion of today’s computers may also require the rarer Torx tool, which is not quite as common, so make sure you have some of those in different sizes. As far as screwdrivers go, you’ll want both standard blade and phillips drivers in a variety of sizes that allow you to quickly deal with both small and large screws.

    2. Soldering Equipment

    Sometimes unscrewing your computer case and jiggling your PCI cards around isn’t enough to fix a problem. You might have to whip out a soldering item and deal with some bad connections. It’s very wise to keep a soldering iron, a roll of solder and desoldering equipment handy at all times. Much of the time, having a soldering iron around means you spend ten minutes repairing a component instead of hours or days in frustration.

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    3. Wire Stripper & Cutter

    In the world of audio engineering, they say that 95% of the time, your technical problems are with faulty cables and wiring, not with the hardware itself. It’s the same when it comes to computers. Make sure you have the tools to deal with bad wiring!

    4. Pliers

    Simply put, you never know when you’ll have to yank something out of some strange crevice.

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    5. Small Handheld Mirror

    If you’re working with a standard tower PC, there are a lot of places in the box that are hard to get a good visual on. Having a small mirror can come in handy when you want to see what’s going on behind your line of sight. Especially useful if you have a large head!

    6. Small Flashlight

    Just like you may need a mirror to see behind obstacles in the cramped compartments of a tower PC, you may need to illuminate your PC’s guts more clearly than your ceiling lights can. Get a small flashlight that is compact enough to get into tight spaces, but not so small that it doesn’t light anything up enough.

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    7. Linux Live CD

    Not all problems are hardware related, of course. One of the most useful tools to keep on hand is a live CD of some sort of Linux distribution. This way, if your Windows, OS X or Linux installation is having issues you can’t fix from inside the system, such as partition table problems on the boot drive, you can take a look and do something about it. One of these CDs and an external hard drive can help you save your data when the drive is on the brink of failing, too.

    8. Maintenance Software CD or Flash Drive

    Load up a CD or a flash drive with maintenance software, such as antivirus, disk checking, various spyware scanners, and so on, and keep in reach of your computer. The best option is to get a cheap flash drive that is dedicated to maintenance and does not get used for data storage or anything else, ever. A bunch of portable apps can be really handy, and if you drop in on a friend with computer issues and have one of these in your bag you can be a real lifesaver. Keep the software up to date.

    9. Spare Hard Disk Caddy

    If you want to take a look at your boot drive in another computer or without the use of a live CD, you’ll need a caddy to whack it in. You could go as far as to have a hard drive loaded up with your operating system of choice and set up for maintenance and troubleshooting situations and keep it in the spare caddy. When your main drive needs looking at, you just swap them around.

    10. A “Super Tool”

    It doesn’t matter which kind of so-called super tool you go for; just having one of these around, even if it’s of the most basic variety, can help out in many situations. These things are handy for computer maintenance and for day-to-day life, so it’s worth getting one no matter what. You can see some of my favorites at the Maker Shed — there are a few varieties to suit your tool-wielding inclinations. These are great for super quick repairs, or “when all else fails” situations.

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    Joel Falconer

    Editor, content marketer, product manager and writer with 12+ years of experience in the startup, design and tech digital media industries.

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    Last Updated on November 18, 2020

    15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It)

    15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It)

    It’s okay, you can finally admit it. It’s been two months since you’ve seen the inside of the gym. Getting sick, family crisis, overtime at work and school papers that needed to get finished all kept you for exercising. Now, the question is: how do you start again?
    Once you have an exercise habit, it becomes automatic. You just go to the gym, there is no force involved. But after a month, two months or possibly a year off, it can be hard to get started again. Here are some tips to climb back on that treadmill after you’ve fallen off.

    1. Don’t Break the Habit – The easiest way to keep things going is simply not to stop. Avoid long breaks in exercising or rebuilding the habit will take some effort. This may be advice a little too late for some people. But if you have an exercise habit going, don’t drop it at the first sign of trouble.
    2. Reward Showing Up – Woody Allen once said that, “Half of life is showing up.” I’d argue that 90% of making a habit is just making the effort to get there. You can worry about your weight, amount of laps you run or the amount you can bench press later.
    3. Commit for Thirty Days – Make a commitment to go every day (even just for 20 minutes) for one month. This will solidify the exercise habit. By making a commitment you also take pressure off yourself in the first weeks back of deciding whether to go.
    4. Make it Fun – If you don’t enjoy yourself at the gym, it is going to be hard to keep it a habit. There are thousands of ways you can move your body and exercise, so don’t give up if you’ve decided lifting weights or doing crunches isn’t for you. Many large fitness centers will offer a range of programs that can suit your tastes.
    5. Schedule During Quiet Hours – Don’t put exercise time in a place where it will easily be pushed aside by something more important. Right after work or first thing in the morning are often good places to put it. Lunch-hour workouts might be too easy to skip if work demands start mounting.
    6. Get a Buddy – Grab a friend to join you. Having a social aspect to exercising can boost your commitment to the exercise habit.
    7. X Your Calendar – One person I know has the habit of drawing a red “X” through any day on the calendar he goes to the gym. The benefit of this is it quickly shows how long it has been since you’ve gone to the gym. Keeping a steady amount of X’s on your calendar is an easy way to motivate yourself.
    8. Enjoyment Before Effort – After you finish any work out, ask yourself what parts you enjoyed and what parts you did not. As a rule, the enjoyable aspects of your workout will get done and the rest will be avoided. By focusing on how you can make workouts more enjoyable, you can make sure you want to keep going to the gym.
    9. Create a Ritual – Your workout routine should become so ingrained that it becomes a ritual. This means that the time of day, place or cue automatically starts you towards grabbing your bag and heading out. If your workout times are completely random, it will be harder to benefit from the momentum of a ritual.
    10. Stress Relief – What do you do when your stressed? Chances are it isn’t running. But exercise can be a great way to relieve stress, releasing endorphin which will improve your mood. The next time you feel stressed or tired, try doing an exercise you enjoy. When stress relief is linked to exercise, it is easy to regain the habit even after a leave of absence.
    11. Measure Fitness – Weight isn’t always the best number to track. Increase in muscle can offset decreases in fat so the scale doesn’t change even if your body is. But fitness improvements are a great way to stay motivated. Recording simple numbers such as the number of push-ups, sit-ups or speed you can run can help you see that the exercise is making you stronger and faster.
    12. Habits First, Equipment Later – Fancy equipment doesn’t create a habit for exercise. Despite this, some people still believe that buying a thousand dollar machine will make up for their inactivity. It won’t. Start building the exercise habit first, only afterwards should you worry about having a personal gym.
    13. Isolate Your Weakness – If falling off the exercise wagon is a common occurrence for you, find out why. Do you not enjoy exercising? Is it a lack of time? Is it feeling self-conscious at the gym? Is it a lack of fitness know-how? As soon as you can isolate your weakness, you can make steps to improve the situation.
    14. Start Small – Trying to run fifteen miles your first workout isn’t a good way to build a habit. Work below your capacity for the first few weeks to build the habit. Otherwise you might scare yourself off after a brutal workout.
    15. Go for Yourself, Not to Impress – Going to the gym with the only goal of looking great is like starting a business with only the goal to make money. The effort can’t justify the results. But if you go to the gym to push yourself, gain energy and have a good time, then you can keep going even when results are slow.

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