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3 rules for fixing a PC problem

ErrorSome days I feel like technology is conspiring against me. In the past couple weeks I've been through the wringer with my media-center PC, my iPhone and my Nintendo Wii. Aaaarrrgghhh!

This stuff happens to everybody. And I've pulled out enough hair over the years and kicked enough bins to have learned some lessons. So the next time your PC behaves in a way that makes you want to put it in a sack and find the nearest pond, remember these three rules:

1) Accept it. Like I said, this stuff happens to everybody. Sometimes there's no rhyme or reason to it, and most of the time it's through no fault of your own. Windows is an unpredictable, unreliable beast (yes, even Windows 7). A single problem driver or incompatible program can wreak havoc on an otherwise healthy system. When you accept that problems can and will happen, they'll be less of a surprise - and less likely to ruin your day.

2) Relax. System won't boot? Printer won't print? iPhone won't sync? Take a deep breath. In fact, take several. Then walk away from the offending machine, device or whatever, and do something else for 5 to 10 minutes. I know how annoying and frustrating these glitches can be - that's why it's crucial to get some distance, so you can come back calm and clear-headed. Which ties directly to rule 3:

3) Don't overreact. I can't tell you how many times I've made things worse by failing to heed rule 2. Instead, I start hurling mouse-clicks at the troubleshooting dartboard. Uninstall a driver here, update a Bios there, run the free virus-removal utility that promises to fix everything. That's how one problem evolves into several, until eventually you think: "I'll just buy a new PC." (Tell me you haven't had that reaction at some point.) By all means, troubleshoot the problem, but do so slowly and methodically.

What rules would you add to my list? Have you encountered PC problems so maddening that you thought about (horror) buying a Mac? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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