High Maintenance

Every 3000 miles, my truck needs an oil change. I’ve accepted this. In fact, I make reminders to myself to get the truck into the shop so that the oil is changed on a regular schedule. Tune ups, tire inflation, oil changes, this is all part of owning the vehicle.

So why is it when it comes to computers I grunt and groan and belly ache whenever the computer needs maintenance. I expect it to turn on and just work without any performance care on my part. And why not? Computers are smarter than cars. I have to tell the car where to go, the computer should know exactly what I want it to do. The car has moving parts that I can look at, the computer is a box under my desk (or in my lap) that makes some noise but doesn’t have anything moving that I can see.

And yet, computers need just as much TLC as a car does. Except instead of an oil change, I run a virus scan. Instead of a tune up, I open the case and blow the dust out. I clear out temp folders and files instead of putting air in my tires. I backup and make duplicate copies of all my important files instead of…ok, so there is no equivalent here. But wouldn’t it be nice to walk away from a car wreck, shrug your shoulders, and say “That’s ok, I have a backup in my garage.”?

I replace my car every 3-5 years as a matter of course, dropping thousands of dollars on replacement vehicles. Yet I expect my computer to last forever. I expect it to never need replaced and always functional. I gripe when it comes time to drop any additional money on my computer.

Lately, I’ve found that my attitudes towards all this have been shifting. Instead of getting an oil change, I’ll scan my hard drive for malware. Instead of a tune up for my truck, I’ll tear apart my computer and clean dust out of the corners. This could explain why my transmission is no longer working…

This post originally appeared in Dave’s Computer Tips issue #53 on May 1, 2010.


  1. EllaJo

    Umm… sweetie, the equivalent to backing up files is paying for insurance.

    • chad

      The day I can crash my car, dust off my backups, pull out an exact duplicate of my car and drive off again is the day that I will agree with you.

      Insurance is a) a way to pay for the guy’s repairs that you ran into and b) a fight to actually get the payout you need because they’re always looking for ways to save money. It’s not a perfect comparison even if you stretch it.

      And I didn’t want to stretch it. :-)


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