We have all heard it, or perhaps, even said it, “my computer crashed!!!”. What exactly does that mean? Did the computer literally drive out of your house, run the stop sign at the corner and run into another computer out on a joy ride? I mean, we all know computers have a mind of their own, but how would they open the doors? They don’t even have opposable thumbs, so its just not possible!

So what exactly does it mean that a computer crashed? My definition of a computer crash is the hard drive itself crashing. This can mean the head of the hard drive literally crashed into the platter that holds the data. Wow, enough with the nerd speak right? Picture a record turntable, the vinyl record is like the hard drive platter, and the needle is like the hard drive head. Now picture the needle getting jammed up or pushed across the vinyl and scratching the vinyl. This is pretty much what a hard drive head crash is, only at a much higher speed (5400+ RPM instead of 33 RPM)! The before and after picture below shows an undamaged hard drive and a damaged hard drive.

Unfortunately many times when people say, or are told, that their computer crashed, that really isn’t the case. Just because a computer wont start up, or won’t stay running, doesn’t necessarily mean that it has “crashed”. The problem could be as simple a replacing a $30 part, and viola, your computer is running fine again. Over my years of IT work, I have seen people replace a computer when all it needed was a simple, and free, reset procedure.

I am not saying that we should stop calling them computer crashes. All I want you to be aware of is that many computer problems can be solved without replacing the computer all together. In fact, even in case like the one above, all you would have to do is install a new hard drive and reinstall your operating system. Of course, when I say you, I really mean me (contact me here). You probably won’t get your data back, unless you use a data recovery service or have good backups, but you can at least your computer again.

Now if your computer has figured out how to open doors, and is going out on joy rides, I would recommend contacting Tesla Motors. They would love to get their hands on that type of technology!

Computer store crash image courtesy of: The News-Herald, Southgate, Michigan.

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