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Halloween Horror Stories – Tech Nightmares You’ll Want to Avoid!

It’s Halloween and as such, I guess a lot of you are in the mood for some good-humored horror. For those of us within the PC community, however, sometimes those scary stories are a bit too close to the reality we experience on a daily basis. Particularly when friends or relatives decide to see if we can provide some (usually free) tech support.

Let us, therefore, take a look at some of the worst PC disasters you could imagine with the sad part being, you’ve probably already encountered more than a few of them!

And no, as tempting as it might sound, we’re not going to rely on taking the p*ss out of that Verge system build video. We’ve already done that once.

Nightmare Number 1 – Cable Management

Having the cables neat and well organized within your system can have a number of benefits. Firstly, it simply makes your system look far more attractive. An important factor if you’ve spent a fair amount of money on your components. I mean, you’re going to want to show it all off, right? – This is, however, just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to problems!

A good system should have a strong airflow throughout. As such, any obstacles that are going to interrupt this is generally not great. With, of course, the exception of the things you actually want in the way such as your cooler. On top of this, having masses of cables also gives that killer dust something to grab onto.

So, how to avoid this? The easiest way is to simply utilize your system case to its best potential. Sure, not all cases have the best cable management built-in, but if you’re smart and plan ahead, more often than not you can use a bit of creative placement or weaving to really make your system look tidy and keep those cables as out of the way as possible.

Nightmare Number 2 – Dust!

Every PC gets dusty. Dust is a fact and a constant battle every PC owner is (or should) be fighting against! There are, however, a number of systems out there that when you open them up literally everything is caked in it. We’re talking systems that likely haven’t moved from their spot under the desk for years!

Why is this bad? Surely dust couldn’t cause any problems, right? Oh, how wrong you are!

Firstly, and getting back to the whole issue of airflow, heavy amounts of duty can literally cause your system to choke on it. Think of it as trying to breath with a heavy cloth held over your mouth. It’s possible, but certainly not comfortable! The more practical aspect of this is that components will run hotter than they should and in terms of power supplies, this can often result in disaster!

So, get out your tins of compressed air and give your system a good blow job. Ideally once every 2-3 months! Trust me, it’ll thank you for it and definitely result in a happy ending!… What?…

Nightmare Number 3 – Weird Setups or Unbranded Components

Back in the day, I used to play on a friend’s private Battlefield 2 server that used to live within a cardboard box. Sure it worked, but… hmm…

Yes, seeing weird systems is never good. Particularly if you’re the one tasked into troubleshooting what’s wrong with it and trust me when you enter these realms you might as well brace yourself for a whole lot of swearing!

The problem does, however, get exceptionally more difficult when the system has some components that you are completely unfamiliar with. We’re talking about weird brands, designs or sometimes products that carry absolutely no labeling at all!

In terms of how you can avoid this? Well, ideally pick your components and brands with a degree of practicality in mind. Yes, we know that sometimes cheap and cheerful is all you can do. I myself have (in the past) purchased unbranded memory. You should, however, avoid the minefield of strange power supplies, weird coolers or just outright dodgy tech! You’re going to want a system that can not only perform but can also be maintained!

Nightmare Number 4 – Processors, Coolers, Thermal Paste, and The Bizarre Ways People Get It Wrong

When I first started building PCs, one of the most intimidating aspects for me was installing the CPU and mounting the cooler. I mean, the internet is literally plagued full of bad information and the horror stories that have resulted from inexperienced and sometimes, worryingly, even experienced hands.

How much thermal paste should you use? How should you apply it? – I know this is fairly basic stuff for those of us with lots of experience in it, but you show me a person who claims that this wasn’t a scary process when they first did it and I’ll show you a liar! In addition, I don’t think there’s a single person out there who hasn’t, to some degree, cocked up mounting a cooler. Even something as ridiculous as leaving the plastic cover on the contact plate.

When it comes to over (or under) application of thermal paste, usually the results are not too bad. Either your CPU will run amazingly hot or it will simply refuse to boot at all. This can, however, be fixed!

One of the worst ways you can get this wrong, however, is by applying the thermal paste underneath the processor. If you have done this to your system then you’ll likely have two results. A) You have very likely ruined your processor chip and/or have a very, very, tedious cleaning job ahead. B) You have almost certainly just destroyed your motherboard.

Sadly, while this is something of a meme, it does still happen with disturbing regularity! If you want to show us something really scary this Halloween, send us a picture of this!

Nightmare Number 5 – Dealing With the Inept PC or Tech Owner!

I consider myself somewhat fortunate that despite dealing with systems on a daily basis I am rarely called upon to deal with any technical support problems. Well, other than those I create myself.

For any of us that do have a good knowledge of PC systems, however, comes a huge problem and it’s one I touched on right at the beginning of this. Namely, the fact that all of your friends and family think you have become a free and convenient tech-support service of all their electrical problems.

Personally, I’m always more than willing (and want) to help people fix their PC problems. As per God’s remit, however, I only help those who are willing to help themselves!

I can honestly think of no greater PC nightmare than trying to fix someones PC who is either giving you a disaster of a build to deal with under the guise of it being ‘nothing too major’ or those who have literally tried none of the advice you gave them before dumping it on your desk.

I don’t have a problem with those who don’t know how computers work. PCs, while essentially simply, can (appear to) be more than a little complicated. That does, however, stretch rather thin with those who use them on a daily basis and don’t want to know!

Want to get your annoying tech friends something this Halloween? Do yourself a favor and get them a ‘PC repair for Dummies’ book.

Halloween Horrors! – What Do You Think?

We’d be more than delighted if you could share any tales of woe you have had or come across in your PC, system or tech-related world this Halloween! So make sure you drop us a comment (and some pictures) and who knows, maybe we’ll do a follow-up and give you a mention!

For more Halloween themed news and features, check out the link here!

Mike Sanders

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