A while back I was lamenting the fact that Intel vPro technology promises to end the need (at least among businesses at the moment) for all of the creative low-tech fixes we all use when our PCs crawl onto the shoulder of the Internet and expire as if they've just ran out of electrons.  I asked you for your most useful low-tech fixes and many of you responded.  We also made this video that captured the secret tricks some San Franciscans use to pump life back into their under-the-weather PCs.


I asked my buddy Dave Buchholz in Intel’s internal IT group if he had any low-tech fixes.  Dave’s title is IT Technology Evangelist.  If his title conjures up the vision of someone perched atop an equipment cabinet with a tech manual cradled in one arm and soldering iron raised high in the other, well, that’s Dave.  He’s an accomplished IT professional and something of an IT historian as well.


Dave recalls years back that there was a period when the bearings in certain hard drives were typically the first thing to go.  An audible clicking noise was the giveaway to the problem.  Dave says he’d put the ailing drives in a freezer where the bearings would contract slightly as they froze. Once back on a computer, the chilled drives would spin just long enough to offload the data.  Dave must have been working for a appliance company at the time because his fix for a gummed-up keyboard was to run it through a dishwasher.  Dave, this was a specialized IT dishwasher?


I say low-tech, but when I asked readers to document their surefire fixes for getting their failed computers running again, solutions ranged from the spiritual (“shut down and restart and pray”) to "alchemy” (interestingly from an IT pro) with some tech solutions mixed in.


In the interest of archiving the responses for businesses who may not yet have vPro or consumers interested in bettering their computer capabilities, I’ve taken a shot below at cataloging those I deem key for quick reference.  I’ve placed them under appropriate tags that will make them easy to reference when the need arises.


vPro, of course, makes it possible to diagnose and fix problems even in computers that are turned off, or have toasted operating systems or hard drives, and it’s capabilities are now reaching the small-business world with Intel IT Director and even virtualized worlds.  Nonetheless, not everyone has vPro.


For that reason, this undoubtedly will become a watershed resource.  So, it’s important that it is complete and thoroughly thought through. If you want to propose a category to those below and add any solutions from the complete list of fixes into it or suggest fixes of your own, now is the time to append them in the comments before catastrophe strikes.


My thanks along with the appreciation of those who may eventually need this resource to all of you who contributed.


PC Fixes in Absence of Intel vPro Technology



Turn it off and on


Slightly Less Simple

Ctrl+Alt+Del, then task manager and ending a whole bunch of tasks so only a few are left. If that doesn't work, restart the computer…after two minutes.



Turning it off and then turning it back on again. Then hitting it really hard and see if something gets knocked loose.


Wisdom from IT Pros (Apparently from different schools, however)

Extend the life of your computer - buy a desktop KVM and instead of chucking out the PC keep it as an internet-browsing "NetTop". Also useful for long-lasting downloads. Use the KVM to flick between your "main" PC and the NetTop


Black tape. Or sometimes a good kick will do.


Confidential – Not To Be Shared with the IT Department

Defrag, registration defrag and spyware removal


Complete Emotional Breakdown

Start crying, hit the delete button 1,000 times, and if all else fails call my sister and have her boyfriend save me from my tech catastrophe


Tears - it must be the salt or maybe the computer gods taking pity on me but it seems to work


Reboot, reboot, reboot!


Oxygen Depleted Environments

Worst comes to worst, I always just take the battery out of my laptop and let it "breathe" a bit before plugging it back in and booting it up


Try blowing air into any port - battery, power cord, usb port -- sometimes it actually works


Call In the Marines

Call my dad; he's some kind of a computer engineer


Pick the Right Man

Pawning it off on my boyfriend to fix!


Man Up and Do What Feels Right!

I've become very accustom to using hibernate and sleep modes. Why bother with a full shutdown and startup. But - IT support got a little upset…stating I was reckless, the system wasn't "made to do that", and so forth. So - back to the wasted time of shutdown and power-up


When Melt-Down (Structural or Emotional) Is Imminent

Close my eyes and hope the problem goes away


Call the geek squad – ask my children


Don’t Even Mess with It, Refresh

Accelerated upgrade cycle