Hi Everyone,

Over the years of helping people with computers, a unifying principle I have observed is something I’ve dubbed “Spare Capacity”. People are most stressed and worried when they don’t have Spare Capacity. Let me give a few examples.

“Gwen” took the trip of a lifetime a few years ago with her husband. They had a great time and Gwen took a lot of pictures. She keeps the pictures on her laptop, as her camera card filled up and she had to clear it to take more pictures. This morning, Gwen pressed the power button on her laptop and some of the lights come on, but the operating system doesn’t start like it normally does. She realizes that the only place she has the pictures of that trip are on the laptop… that is now not starting correctly. Stress and worry.

“Paul” has been working on a side project that he hopes to turn into a full time business soon. He’s starting to get busy and he’s just signed a fairly big client. He does all of his work for this side project on his laptop with a fancy touchscreen (the most expensive laptop at the Big Box store), which is his only computer. He keeps copies of his files on two backup drives, so he’s not worried about his data. Yesterday, while rushing out the door to get to a meeting, Paul slipped on the ice. He’s physically fine, but later when he takes the laptop out of his bag the screen is crushed. After some calling around, he finds that it is prohibitively expensive to fix the screen, may take more than two weeks for the replacement part to arrive and he’s concerned that there might be something else wrong with the laptop, too. He was supposed to have some work done for that big client at the end of the week. Stress and worry.

In both of these stories, having some spare capacity would have made the situations much less stressful. If Gwen had kept her pictures in more than one place, as Paul does with his data, she wouldn’t be that concerned. If Paul had both a laptop and desktop computer with his work software and data on, instead of relying on only one expensive laptop, he wouldn’t be that concerned that it would take a while to fix the broken laptop because he could just continue working on a desktop computer.

This concept of Spare Capacity, and understanding how the lack of it causes stress and worry, can help you make decisions about your data and the devices you use.

There are some ways that I can help and some ways that I can’t. I am not able to remind you all the time to make sure your data is in more than one place (I did just now, though).

Most of my work is computer repair and sales of refurbished laptops and desktop computers that have been upgraded with Solid State Drives. SSDs are much faster and less likely to fail, so that helps, but doesn’t eliminate the lack of Spare Capacity problem. It’s up to you to plan ahead and take the actions that you think are best.

I’m happy to answer any questions you may have. Don’t hesitate to reply to this email or call and leave a message for me at 608-406-4044.

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