Unfortunately, it's nearly impossible to make it through your time in school without needing some kind of computer repair. It might be your hard drive that's broken; it might be your screen; it might be something you've never even heard of. No matter what's broken, though, it's definitely a problem.
So just where can you go if you're in school but need to get your computer repaired? With limited time, money, and transportation options, finding a way to fix your computer quickly and cost-effectively can be a real challenge.
While it may be tempting to call your computer geek friend for help, doing so may cause more harm than good. Paul Gabrielsen, a former Apple Store Mac Genius who now runs a computer repair and home theater installation business in the Phoenix area, strongly suggests skipping the friend and heading to an expert. "It's best to bring your computer to a professional unless you're positive your friend knows exactly what they are doing," Gabrielsen notes. "I've worked on a lot of computers where a friend had good intentions but made matters worse."
If you're short on time, see what options your campus has for student repairs. There may be an IT department that works with students; there may also be a local store recommended by your school that can help quickly, is reasonably priced, and is located close to campus. And while it may not be wise to have your friends try to fix your computer, it's definitely smart to ask them for recommendations about where to go for help.
Keep in mind, too, that the store where you bought your computer can be a good resource. If you have a Mac, for example, the Apple store can help in various ways, depending on what level of protection you signed up for and if your computer is under warranty. Other stores, like Best Buy or a local Mom-and-Pop shop, may also offer some repair services. Even if you're at a very small, very rural institution, there are undoubtedly a high number of computers there -- meaning there is likely some kind of service available to help with the technical problems that will inevitably arise on your campus.
Additionally, check to see what kind of warranty your computer comes with. You might be surprised to learn that, in all the paperwork that came with your laptop, there's a number to call if you need repairs. If repairs are in fact covered, make sure to have your computer fixed at a place that will service the machine for free. The last thing you need on top of a broken computer is a needlessly large bill for fixing it.
One of the best ways to deal with a major computer crisis is, of course, to do your best to prevent one in the first place. The major problem of having a broken computer in college is not necessarily the lack of access to a working machine; you can always use a friend's laptop or a computer in a lab for a few days. The biggest challenge comes from losing all of your academic work and personal data. "Performing backups on a regular basis is the most important thing to do," advises Gabrielsen. "The hardest part of my job is when I have to tell students their schoolwork and pictures are gone forever." As you work to get your computer repaired this time, implement some additional safety systems so that, when your computer inevitably gets funky again, you'll be less likely to have your entire college life thrown out of balance.