Friday, February 15, 2019

No, I Will Not Fix Your Computer


The real reason your company's computer guy doesn't want to work on your personal PC.

I’m sorry, I don’t work on personal PC’s. It’s nothing personal, I promise”.

Have you ever heard these words come from the lips of your company’s in house IT guy? Have you ever asked and been rebuffed? Well don’t fret. Rest assured dear user, it really isn’t personal. A lot of us computer guys just don’t work on personal PC’s.

But why not?” you ask. A computer is a computer right? If it’s broke you can certainly fix it and maybe make a little money on the side. It shouldn’t take you long, you’re an expert.

As tempting as tax free money on the side sounds, it usually just isn’t worth the hassle. That’s right, I said it. It’s a hassle for us to work on personal PC’s. The laundry list of why it is a hassle is long, but I will try to just touch on the most significant aspects of it.

First off you have to realize that people that work in a corporate or government IT dept are used to dealing with standardized hardware and software configurations and being in total control over the goings on of their network. We know the hardware and software inside and out. We are in control of the inventory, we know what types of printers we have, and know what the most common problems are that occur with our standardized hardware and software. We like to be in control. When you bring us your personal PC from home, we don’t know what kind of software you have installed, where it came from, or what kind of hardware you may have connected to it that may or may not be causing your issues.

Secondly, we don’t like to have to “overlook” stuff you may have on your computer that may or may not be “legal”. Is that copy of Office 2007 you have installed on your PC properly licensed? Did you pay for the thousands of mp3’s you have in your “My Music” folder? It honestly bothers us to work on somebody’s computer and see software like Limewire or the likes of it, because we then know you are illegally downloading music. Honestly we want no part of that. We don’t want to know because many of us possess professional technical certifications from Microsoft and others, and with those designations come ethical responsibilities and the like. These companies are our bread and butter if you will, and we don't like to see them ripped off. Plus when you get sued by the RIAA, we don’t want to be called on to testify against you.

Thirdly, we honestly can’t charge you what our time is actually worth. When you bring in your PC loaded down with viruses and trojans, we could literally have to spend hours cleaning it up, and even then we may not be able to successfully clean it. Nasty infections are generally very difficult to get rid of and usually require that the operating system be reinstalled from scratch, which just adds time to our task.

Fourthly, (is that even a word?) we don’t enjoy working on computers as much as you might think. You know those guys you see on TV that are always messing with computers and talking about the latest whiz bang graphics card that renders a bajillion polygons per second? Guess what. We’re not them. We are IT professionals. We are usually highly specialized in our fields and concentrate on one area of expertise. We usually don’t know about the latest graphics card unless one of our AutoCAD users is getting a new machine and it requires a high end graphics processing unit. To us computers are just a job, a way to make a living. When we go home at night, we want to spend time with our families, chilling in front of the tube and eating dinner. We don’t want to spend all evening trying to figure out why your ipod won’t talk to your computer.

Please understand I’m not trying to be rude. I’m just trying to make it easier for you to understand that it’s really not personal, it’s not that we don’t like you. We really just don’t like to work on personal PC’s.

About the Writer

Christopher Gibson is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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32 comments on No, I Will Not Fix Your Computer

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By josh on June 03, 2008 at 03:21 pm

God forbid an IT guy is actually passionate about IT. Oh well, at least I know I will be getting that raise/promotion long before you will...

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By contagion on June 03, 2008 at 04:39 pm
That's some sanctimonious drivel. Probably one of those people who gets A+ certified or a CCNA and suddenly become kings of IT in their little heads. Most of your co-workers or bosses will consider it a favor for you to do the work anyway, and they're paying you to boot.
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By Sharlene Hardin on June 03, 2008 at 04:53 pm

Hey Chris,

I work for the IT Dept but work as an exec of the QA Compliance & Standards Group and haven't ever touched a PC, but it's funny how people just assume that because I work for the IT department that I'm good with PC's when frankly I have to call the GEEK squad just like everyone else to get my PC fixed. 

But I do know some of our IT group though has helped me out with my stuff at home in a pinch, so I hate to blow your theory that all IT guys don't like to work on PC's but I know quite a few (including some of my family members) who love it. 

It definitely gives some food for thought before assuming everyone in IT will work on personal computers.

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By cvsdave on June 03, 2008 at 05:46 pm

Actually, I think an important issue us raised.  I will fix your computer.  I will look at your car.  I am an enthusiast, and I enjoy these technologies.  I like people and enjoy helping them.  Now, many people cannot work in an area they love - their enthusiams lie outside their occupations.  Still, they should not be offended if someone asks for help, assuming that they are one of the fortunate ones that work in an area that interests them.

I loved it.  I will talk your ear off if you get me started.  The valid points are that I will not do anything against the rules, or ethically compromising.  But please, even if work is really agony, don't blame someone for asking.  I'm sure there is a subject  about which you would be interested in talking and helping.  Lets all strive for that perfect world where the doctors love medicine, the muffler guys are all gearheads, the teachers love to explain...and not resent it that the world is not so perfect.

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By Pete on June 03, 2008 at 06:45 pm

I never thought anybody will accuse Microsoft of any ethical standards other than those designed to screw the competition, or become a computer guru for any other reason than to be able to download more free stuff than us mortals...

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By Christopher Gibson on June 03, 2008 at 11:18 pm

Wow.  After reading the comments posted here,, and, it appears that I may have struck a nerve.  So far I have been called a trained monkey, had my qualifications called into question, and been advised that I should be cleaning toilets.  (Good advice there actually.   I went ahead and ordered the DVD bootcamp series to get my MCTE (McDonald's Certified Toilet Engineer) and should be done with it in only three weeks woot!!!)  Obviously these people didn't bother to read my other article about being mean to people on the internet.  My e-feelings are going to get hurt and I might just have to quit the internetz and move to Montana and live in a shack.

I would like to go on record as saying though that it is not a 100% "NO" policy with me.  I do make exceptions for family, friends, and the occasional co-worker on the grounds that it is a one time deal, I fix the problem, you leave me alone and don't call me two weeks from now and tell me something I did screwed up your itunes.  And I make the coworkers pay.  Family and (most) friends are free.

Some of these tech people are pretty hardcore.  To them I say "kudos".  I was once like you.  I loved the troubleshooting, building new pc's, and spent hour upon hour fiddling with the newest equipment and studying everything I could get my hands on.  If you have the fire, good for you.  Keep it up.  As I have gotten older and my family has grown, I have settled down and lost the passion I once had.  Maybe that is a bad thing.  I don't know.  To me, it's just a job now.

I would like to say "Thank You" though to the people who left positive comments, and / or agreed with me.  You can tell the true professionals from the comments they leave.  You guys are class acts.

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By Magloca on June 04, 2008 at 05:21 am
..."professional technical certifications from Microsoft and others"... ..."ethical responsibilities"... That was funny. Thank you.
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By Thurman on June 04, 2008 at 06:24 am

I have worked in IT for many years, and have built and fixed many computer systems.  I now work for a small company of 20 people, and will help people with issues simply because I hate the way the "Geek Squad" and other companies take advantage of people.  Most recently a friend's granddaughter spilled a Slurpee on a laptop keyboard, and she found out that the accidental warranty that she thought she had purchased did not cover it.  They wanted to overcharge her to fix it after charging her $200 for a warranty that was not better than the default laptop warranty. 

I did discover many years ago though, once you do fix someone's computer, you become their computer guy.  This means that every time they have a problem, they call you.  And they will pay you to come over after work, or on the weekends.  If you do accept pay, they will keep calling you every time they have a minor problem (and with Windows boxes, there is always a minor problem).  After awhile, you have to say "No thanks" because you end up with no free time for yourself, and when you work out the pay per hour for some people, you end up making less than minimum wage.  I can understand where the author is coming from.  As I get older, I enjoy decompressing  and relaxing after work, and the last thing that I want to do is work on a friend of a friend of a friends computer.

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By Rusty Painter on June 04, 2008 at 02:22 pm
I'm not sure where all of you are coming from. Do you REALLY enjoy working on PCs all day long??? When I first started in IT (10 years or so ago), I would work on people's PCs for the experience, and because I needed the money. Now I don't need the money...I don't need the headache of being your personal IT department...I don't need you crying to me when AOL doesn't work...etc. I will fix my parent's PC, and my in-laws. That is pretty much it. When I leave work, I want to spend time with my wife and daughter...not staring at even more computer screens!!! I'm sorry if some of you don't have lives outside of computers, but some of us "IT Nerds" do actually have a life and REAL LIVE friends and family.
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By MarkT on June 04, 2008 at 02:26 pm

Gibson and Thurman - I know exactly where you are coming from. I have been in IT for over ten years, been a consultant - been corporate, been a lead PC admin and now a Sr. Sys admin, hold a crap load of certs and for some reason felt not only compelled to post but qualify myself as worthy for some reason.

This has nothing to do with passion, enthusiasm, paycheck or geek squad. It has to do with the personality of person who wants help....

Are they the person that's always complaining about how they got screwed and how everyone is out to get them? Are they the person who knows everything and tells you exactly what’s wrong with their computer then tells you how to fix it but can't actually fix it? Are they the exec that wants everything for free and thinks they are entitled to have you fix their PC then measures your technical abilities based on how long it takes to apply updates to their PC? Are they the worry wort that is afraid of the world crumbling around them and wants constant confirmation that they are not going to ruin their computer? Are they the person that has another friend that knows alot about computers and that friend says XYZ needs to be done?

I don't fault these people for asking but guess what? Go to geek squad, Go to frys and shoulder tap, I just can't help you, not only will you have me on speed dial when you inevitably ruin you’re computer but more than likely you'll assume it's my fault and this can possibly ruin your professional relationship. I help plenty of friends, family, work friends and colleagues with computer issues because I am a firm believer that some day I will need help with something that I know nothing about and maybe just maybe my help will come full circle. I also am an expert at recognizing the type of people I mentioned above and avoid them like the plague when they need help with their computer… If they want me to extend myself without caution then try extending yourself to me in advance and maybe you can trick me in to feeling obligated, that’s the best one, I’m a sucker for that move!

On a side note my wife freakin hates when I spend hours on end going out of my way to help someone that will more than likely never be able to return the favor.

So that's my take – I have definitely been there and can’t really blame people for flaming the poster because they either just don’t understand yet what they are getting them selves into or are one of the people I mentioned above!!!!

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By CraigCUBSRULE on June 04, 2008 at 02:53 pm

I don't believe I've ever seen more inaccurate statements in a tech article in my life!

First of all, it is NOT illegal to download music (or anything else). Check the law. It is illegal to share copyrighted material with (or make it available to) others. Having LimeWire installed on your PC does not mean you have broken the law! Having MP3s on your PC, that you did not pay for, is not illegal either!

Secondly, this entire paragraph is one of the most funny things I've ever read: "We don’t want to know because many of us possess professional technical certifications from Microsoft and others, and with those designations come ethical responsibilities and the like. These companies are our bread and butter if you will, and we don't like to see them ripped off."

Let me inform you, I am Microsoft Certified myself. Only mine didn't come with "ethical responsibilities and the like". Perhaps that's because I actually have a brain, and can think for myself?

Lastly, there was this little gem: "You know those guys you see on TV that are always messing with computers and talking about the latest whiz bang graphics card that renders a bajillion polygons per second?".

I'm sorry Christopher Gibson, but I do not know those guys on TV. What channel would that be again? What is the name of the TV show? Perhaps my cable company doesn't offer that channel.

As far as whether or not the 'average' IT guy likes to work on computers or not, I have no idea. I just thought that all of the missinformation in this article was really odd.

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By randomcommenter on June 04, 2008 at 04:35 pm

My number one reason for not working on anyone's computer except family is what I like to call the "he who touched it last takes the blame" phenomenon. Most problems I see are due to spy/adware and viruses, which are easy enough to get rid of, but guess what, within a week they'll be back due to user ignorance and porn sites. Or when 3 months later the power supply craps out, guess who's fault it is? The guy who got paid to touch it last. So now the guy who gave you a whole $20 for 4 hours of your time is angry because "you didn't fix the problem" and he feels like you're scamming him. Getting bitched at for doing an ignorant user a favor sucks.

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By D. E. Carson on June 05, 2008 at 12:19 am

The post immediately above mine hits the nail square on the head.  More times than I can count I have been the victim of the "he who last touched it".  I once got thrown out of the personal residence of a corporate vice-president who wasn't happy with the fact that I couldn't get his HP All-in-One printer to work on the parallel port that was running through his iOmega Zip drive.  I tried to explain to him that the printer uses "bi-directional" communication with the computer and the Zip drive was not allowing that to happen.  He demanded that I put another parallel port in his computer.  I couldn't do that because all of the external card slots were already occupied.  This was back before video cards, modems and NICs were integrated onto the motherboards.  He was so certain that I was lying to him that he grabbed my toolbag and floppy disk folder, tossed them out his front door and then shoved me out behind them.  He then told me to get off his property before he called the police.  Now mind you, he was the vice-president of a very large international corporation that was once involved with the US space program.  I was a contractor for that company and my primary responsibility at that company was to coordinate the move of that company's corporare headquarters out of California to another state, but being the new guy I got tricked into making a service call to this vice-president's house because no one else would take the call.  They knew this VP was an a$$hole and it was more of a hazing experience that anything else.  Yes, he did try to get me fired, but that's a whole other story.

Frankly, all you yahoos with your certifications are nothing but glorified screwdriver jockeys.  You waste your time trying to learn information you'll never use about a product that is designed to come out of a box and sit in a closet.  I've worked in IT for almost 20 years and frankly when I see young pinheads come out of college try to impress me with how much they know about building a network I just ask them if they've ever actually seen a token ring network on a bus.  They scratch their heads and ask me if I'm talking about the metro line or a Greyhound.  My response is, "I rest my case."  These are the same wet-behind-the-ears idiots who say, "You mean there was another President George Bush?"  Certifications serve only two purposes: to waste toner when printing your resume and generate money for the companies that put them out there because they know they only make money when you buy their product.  They offer certifications so they can overcharge on the tests and make them so hard that no one could possibly pass them without spending more money and wasting more time on stupid training courses that are taught by morons who know less than my 8-year-old daugher about computers.  I remember once attending a training session on networking (because my boss didn't have anything better to waste my time and his money on) and I ended up teaching the damn class because the dope instructor didn't know his butt from a hole in the ground.

So I ask you Mr. MCSE/CCNA, build me a network using Hewlett Packard equipment and a Novell NOS.  When you're done, I'll come back and fix everything you messed up.
  Microsoft is not the savior of the IT world.  It's people like me who have been around long enough to know better than to just buy into what some salesman tells me.  (Yes, Mr. Gates, the GUI interface is very pretty, but is will my information be safe from hackers?)

Yes, I'm very passionate about my work in IT and I'll be damned if I'm going to let people sit around and bash on it making comments about how IT people have no life outside our work.  What real IT people do on their off time is their own business and if we don't want to work on your computer on Saturday then that is as much our right as a mechanic not wanting to work on his brother-in-law's '65 Dodge Dart!  Christopher Gibson makes a very valid point when he says there are things we'd rather do.  I work on computers for a living and I don't want to have to work on one when I get home!  Computers are meant for other things and I like to use my personal ones -- not fix them!

That loud THUD! you just heard is the sound of a Mr. D. E. Carson jumping off his soapbox!

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By gtk on June 05, 2008 at 06:28 am

Very frankly, from my 19 years of PC troubleshoting experience ...this article missed the most painful issue.  Article needs a revision.

The post by randomcommenter is on the money...with one minor tweek.

"The number one reason for not working on anyone's computer except immediate family is what I like to call the "he who touched it last takes the blame" phenomenon.

After you touch it.. the PC owner calls tech support...( tech support dudes  get compensated for closing calls fast).

Tech Support : " What was the last thing changed on this system ? "

Relative or Friend : " My cousin changed something to make it work again a few months ago "

Tech Support : " That is most likely your problem" .

Call Record Closed : Tech support dude closed another call in less than five minutes.

Relative or Friend now calls you : " Technical Support told me you broke my computer"

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By revd13 on June 05, 2008 at 12:47 pm

All you people bashing the writer don't know what you're talking about.  I've been fixing computers for people since i was 9 years old. (back in the dos 2.0 days)  95% of this article i completely agree with.  I have been unable to successfully convey this concept to my users.  I don't do home pc's.  No i will NOT come out and fix your machine.  The amount of money it would cost to make it worth it you could buy a new computer instead.  They complain how much geeks on call and other services cost. Well...there is a reason for that.  Home users are morons.  Plain and simple.  The number one problem is the user.  It's not my fault you were looking up porn and got virtumonde or some other rootkit/malware/spyware/virus on your computer just after i fixed it.  It's not my fault that you are too stupid to use common sense.  My last 2 times that i gave in were the worst.  This lady called me cause her internet wasn't working. As a favor to my dad i fixed it.  She had been rootkitted and virused to all heck.  4 times she called me with the same problem. 4 times i rebuilt her computer. I finally told her she needs to stop her 14 yr old son from looking up porn and stopped answering her calls.  The last time was another favor for my dad.  I told the guy he needs to get a new computer and recommended several places to buy one. He calls me back and said he got a new computer cheap and would like me to install it for him.  I figured easy money.  After a 40 min drive, I get there it looks OLD...i boot it up WINDOWS ME!!!.  freaking windows me.  I stood up immediately, packed up my stuff and said "I dont do windows ME, and no i can't put another operating system on this.  I'm going home."  He paid me for gas and i've never done a home call since. 

Bravo on the article.  Some of the points were a little vague but the general idea is on point.

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By merexious on June 06, 2008 at 03:07 am

I don't understand where some of the criticism is coming from.  The writer of the article, according to his bio, is 36 (not a newbie) and has a young daughter.  Why should he spend what free time he has on something that has a high chance of being bad for everyone involved?  It isn't a question of passion or not -- it's just that some things --family, sanity-preservation, experiencing life outside of a work  -- come first.

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By merexious on June 06, 2008 at 03:18 am

I don't understand where some of the criticism is coming from.  The writer of the article, according to his bio, is 36 (not a newbie) and has a young daughter.  This already suggests a number of commitments which are fairly important to a balanced and happy life.  Why should he spend what free time he has on something that has a very good chance of being bad for everyone involved?  It isn't a question of passion or not -- it's just that some things --family, sanity-preservation, experiencing life outside of a work -- come first.

   He wasn't talking about short conversations and sharing information or tips, he was talking about the full-on minefield-laden task of fixing or troubleshooting (h/w and software) of someone's personal PC.

   I will only help family and close friends, personally, and even then I really, really appreciate it if people at least back up all their important data (so I can't be blamed for losing that).  On people's personal computers, problems tend to get taken (as you might guess) a little personally.   It's just usually not worth it to go there.

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By PuckInTheDeep on June 06, 2008 at 12:27 pm

 have learned to stay away from the computers of friends and neighbors for my own reasons, or to offer my support on my own specific terms, because otherwise I have found that I opened up a can of worms after for any number of reasons.

The only thing in the article that I really could care less about is the licensing issues if I even see them at all.  I understand about the logical assumptions in general regarding certain applications and or music, but I go in assuming that everything is licensed and if I see necessary software is missing I insist that it be purchased either off the Internet properly or that I see a box.

There is another issue though that the author forgot to mention; Legal and moral responsibility if anything breaks as you are working on the computer or after you did, especially if you are not getting paid for what you are doing.

I've had situations where a few days or weeks after I laid hands on a computer things went South, so to speak, and of course what might have been a few hours or minutes of work suddenly became a nightmare of immense proportions.

One time I remember quite well was when I fixed up a computer pretty well, against my personal advice to scrap it and invest in another computer, getting it in perfect working order, only to find out that the resident 10 year old who knew everything had hosed it. I don't remember what she had done exactly now (It was almost 15 years ago.) but I found the evidence that pointed to what she had done. To make matters worse I am pretty sure it was something I had warned about not doing or something that was not done that I told them had to BE done. I think that it involved installing some kind of download software or not running regular maintenance on the PC or possibly a combination of the two.

Every now and again I find that I give in and help a friend out and almost each time I either lose a day, or months later hear about it in a bad way. The last two where when I installed memory chips in a laptop, only to have the owner ask me three or four months later why they were having problems. I remember taking a deep breath and asking what they meant, and suggesting that since it was working fine after I had it, and for weeks after that they look into a service place to see what the deal was since I was in New York and they were in Chicago.

Then there was a time over the last Winter when I had to help helped get a friend's Windows 98 computer onto his wireless network. Ever try to figure out a WEP key, and realize that not only do you, or they in this case, do not have it? Then try to getting into a router when the owner does not remember the password? After some clinical hypnosis and regression therapy he managed to remember the password and from there we got the WEP key, his old phone number.
~Word of advice folks, if you use security on a woreless router, and you should or you are a moron, then write the WEP key out and paste it on the bottom or front of the router where you can get to it easily. (If a hacker is in your home anyhow then you have a lot more to worry about then then JUST getting the WEP key in all likelihood!)

After getting that computer up and running and confirming my thought and feeling that there is nothing out there that I could easily find which supports real time AntiVirus monitoring for Windows 98 I finally left that computer alone and found out that he needed help on his Windows XP desktop and his Vista laptop, neither of which had current AntiVirus or service packs. The XP machine was still on Service Pack 1 and the AntiVirus would only install on SP2. 40 updates later, including the Service Pack and updates after that the AntiVirus was installed. The Vista laptop only needed about 16 updates and the AntiVirus installation. After 6 hours it was all working, but the misery was not entirely over after that.

A few weeks later we went over for a New Year's Eve party and while there the kids and I were discussing various Viral Videos, so we all showed off some of the better ones we knew (kid friendly mind you.).

I walked downstairs after we were done and my friends wife experienced a connectivity issue to the internet and said to me "Jay, the desktop has no internet connection now." (OK, it was more like she yelled at me.) I looked calmly at her and did not say a word, when she then ordered me to fix it. That got one of my "Looks" if you know what I mean, but she not being a total idiot, just a moron at times realized what she had done and ammended her approach, apoligizing and then asking me nicely if I could take a look at the computer. (I did and fixed it by rebooting.).

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By Contemporary Reviews on June 07, 2008 at 10:43 am
oh the irony!
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By D. E. Carson on June 08, 2008 at 03:17 am

I wasn't criticizing the author...I was criticizing all the "I know more than you because I work on computers for a living" people out there.  Look, there are as many horror stories about why us IT professionals will not work on home PCs as there are IT professionals who will not work on home PCs.  I hate it when someone looks at me and says, "Oh, you know I have this computer issue..."  I tell them that I am currently off the clock, but that I charge $75 per hour with a two hour minimum.  That alone is usually enough to get them to leave me alone.  I would rather play golf than work on someone's home computer.  This is why I do not have a "Carson's Computer Fix It Shop".  If I want to make money working on computers that have only one problem -- the I.D. 10-T keyboard driver (usually abbreviated as: ID10Tkbd.drv) then I would quit my day job and open up my own business.  But I do not want to work on other people's computers.  It's funny that IT people never seem to have problems of their own with their personal computers, yet the CEO of XYZ Corp has to hire somoene to fix his PC.

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By Justin on June 09, 2008 at 01:11 am

Wow, I completely understand where Chris is coming from here. When I was a sophomore and junior in high school, our tech guys didn't know their ass from their heads, so I was called around to get the men and woman working computers. Some people didn't know that their monitor wasn't plugged in, and got me called out of class, which isn't a bad thing, but the thing that gets me is that you are expected to do these things, and at the end you aren't even thanked. That's why when someone says, can you do this, or this, yes, I sure can for 50 bucks. Fuck them if they think I'm going to continue to miss Calculus or AP Language for their petty problems. There are times when computers, due to lack of intelligence from the user end becomes a tidious task, and I think that is what Chris is trying to allude to here, and not that he doesn't enjoy doing it, he would rather spend his time doing something more exciting and thought provoking.

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By Rob O. on June 09, 2008 at 10:37 am

I've been in IT for a couple of decades.  I used to do a fair bit of sideline work - often for little or no payment.  I like people, enjoy helping them, and don't want to see them taken advantage of by support techs but my enthusiasm has waned and I really don't enjoy getting elbow deep in other peoples' PC woes any more.

And I'll be honest that one of the biggest buzz-kills is, as Thurman notes, that once you've worked on someone else's PC, you're that guy's tech support for life.  Unfortunately, your fingers are also rarely the only ones in the mix - your handiwork is continuously undermined by tech-eager, but painfully green nephews, cousins, neighbors, or other wannabe-geeks.  The PC you just restored to proper function gets promptly whacked back out because the owner's kids decided to click on some stray website banner ad.  You just can't stay ahead of the chaos and that gets really discouraging really fast.

Some dear friends, a very old retired couple, were using me up every weekend to fix blunders they had made on their home PCs.  After awhile, I started turning him down and referring him to a guy at a mom & pop computer store that I know.  Since they've had to start paying for support, the problems have decreased dramatically.  It pained me greatly to have to turn them away, but there was a valuable lesson in there for them.  And they've also gotten a taste of how much my free services were worth now that they're having to pay someone else for support.

I'd dearly love to find folks who occassionally need PC help that I could barter services with.  I can wrangle Windows like nobody's business but when it comes to plumbing or drywall...  Unfortunately, I haven't managed to make that arrangement happen.

Like Rusty & others have said, as I've matured, gotten married, and now have a child, I just don't have the free personal time or nearly as much zeal to do freelance work.  I rarly even tinker with my own PCs at home - I consider them to be tools to get things done, not hotrods to continually tweak & tune.  Times change.

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By eblack on June 12, 2008 at 05:26 pm

Throwing in with the "I wouldn't let one of our IT guys touch my computer with a ten foot pole" crowd.

I don't work on coworker's computers, and rarely on friends' computers, but it's because I just don't want to, not because I'm snooty about their pirated software.  Or, god forbid, uncomfortable working on disparate brands of computers.  

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By suncam on July 03, 2008 at 10:17 pm

Hi guys, I under stand eveything that was said about this!  but  the resone i like working on personal computers is that I make 1k  a day!  and i dont need to have a big boss man on my back!

I could never do IT work becouse that would mean i would have to work for the man!

any thoughts on this?  feed back please..?

start your own business and make more money!   get other people to do the jobs for you and go on vaca with your kids..

I dont spell that well but ... well do you need to know how to spell to make money?

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By colinged on October 10, 2009 at 10:29 am

Just thought I'd put my tuppence worth in! I've only been in the computer industry for 3 years but I'm already fed up with working on co-workers personal computers so can totally understand where the author of this article is coming from. Started from IT support in a school, then to a corporate helpdesk, then on to client sites looking after the network/servers/pc's/remote sites etc so seen alot in the few years.

It wouldn't be so bad if most people came and offered money but they instead treat in-house IT like a free service that they can use and abuse. These ones are the worst because despite the fact they barely know you - they expect you to either add to your already huge workload during the day or take time out of your night to fix their problems while they likely swan off to have a few beers in front of the tv.

To be nice i took on alot of computers to fix for free but that's stopped now. The "you touched it last syndrome" that's been mentioned always happens and it's not worth the hassle! The amount of times I've come back from lunch only to find a computer with a note on it at my desk saying "broken again, can you have a look) - never again! I then fixed someones computer for beer - big mistake (that is the feel free to call me whenever invitation)...never again.

Why do people not expect their car to go in the garage, be fixed and given back to them for free but many expect IT professionals to do it?

No more fixing home pc's for me....except for family and VERY close friends!

To the author - enjoy your spare time and thanks for the article.


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By IT Administrator on November 23, 2009 at 02:39 pm

This is akin to asking the company accountant to file your taxes, or the company attorney to represent you in a divorce proceeding. We have devoted a lot of time and effort to aquire our qualifications.

We are employed by the company, and not your personal employee.
We have a hand in how our systems are maintained and used.

I have a home life and like to do things with my family,
my family does not want to spend time with me while I fix a co-workers pc.

I have fixed co-workers pcs before and sometimes felt good about helping them, but when a problem arises with some systems I have fixed- including the in-laws... well I guess they have this lifetime waranty over my services and do not hesitate to let me know about it- well it is your hardware that has been replaced that is failing- as if they would really know.

I do not want to adopt another lifetime commitment,
That is what this is- even when they want to buy something new-
they ask you- fine I'll offer some guidance- but do not then come back in three years letting me know how outdated the system is.

Right now I just looked at a co-workers pc- with a failing drive-
It is her personal computer- that I did fix before- here we go with the
lifetime warranty I was unaware I offered.
That co-worker told me it could NOT be the drive since it is under a year old... Ok so I said I would investigate further-

Now- two days later she is complaining because I am taking too long.
I do not 'feel' like fixing the pc right when I get home from work,
thus been enjoying my time off (after work)
She is inconvienenced because she has to drive her kids to a place with a pc to do their homework-
You know what? RUDE.

UGH, to those that don't get it, and think we are trying to say we are 'too' good for helping out someone by using our expertise...
You are reading into the situation the way you see it.
Alot of times a resolution we want to give involves a mentality of avoiding it in the future- and a need to figure out how to keep it from happening again-to give the user the how and why of it- that is a habit for me anyway.

I totally understand what the author was saying in this article and do agree.

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By Enrico on December 02, 2009 at 09:04 pm

this is nice..good help for all of us, I think..

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By TheGuysPerspective on December 03, 2009 at 03:45 am

It's nice to understand your point of view. Well stated!

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By Magmagoon on December 30, 2009 at 12:16 pm

I specialize in Desktop Support and couldn't agree more with this writer. I rather be playing games, playing with my kids, or just relaxing and watch the sunset with my wife by my side (or by myself). If there’s one thing I learned in IT; SOME customers just don't realize that you are helping them the most ethical way you can. With data being such a big liability it just isn’t worth it, you already put your health at risk (PC/desktop techs one of the dirtiest jobs). I may sound and talk like 24/7 computers, but more like 8/5 :). Don't get me wrong, I'm passionate about IT and helping people with IT related issues, you just learn from your mistakes and if you learn from other people's mistakes that’s even better. You end up adjusting and changing ways. I recommend avoiding co-worker shoulder taps on fixing personal computers and getting paid to do it. If it goes bad or customer mouths off and your manager finds out, you'll lose your career if the service was found conducted during company paid time. We IT should know all about risks, and that’s a big risk!

I have a great IT Manager who once told our team, "Spend time with your family because tomorrow is promised to no one."

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By liza on April 17, 2010 at 02:53 am

In my point of we can manage & secure our data & Pc from Trojans, Malware, from updating any antivirus on our PC. There are many antivirus catchers like Norton etc can easily available & also protect us from such threads. Basically I am also doing a job in information technology industries as well & have to face many threads as well. we should also secure out internet connection as well People who are doing jobs in Search marketing group or doing ethical search marketing jobs, have to face attack of such threads always. gadgets So they can easily manage their data & protect their with installation of such program.

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By liza on April 17, 2010 at 02:53 am

In my point of we can manage & secure our data & Pc from Trojans, Malware, from updating any antivirus on our PC. There are many antivirus catchers like Norton etc can easily available & also protect us from such threads. Basically I am also doing a job in information technology industries as well & have to face many threads as well. we should also secure out internet connection as well People who are doing jobs in Search marketing group or doing ethical search marketing jobs, have to face attack of such threads always. gadgets So they can easily manage their data & protect their with installation of such program.

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By Rosie Williams on April 14, 2011 at 10:31 am

Thanks Christopher for this article, I sent it to all my computer tech friends, and they all thanked me. You're right, and I think all computer guys can relate to that feeling that it's not worth the trouble to go through the people. I used to do it especially for friends and family, who btw are the worse customers because they expect it to be free of charge. Once I had a customer to whom I had to explain for two hours what is the <a rel="follow" href="">exe file extension</a> and didn't remember it anyway, he called me back in two days with the same problem. That's when I felt I need to give up my work as a "freelancer" and stick to business.

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