What to do when it all goes wrong... Modern computers are much more reliable and easy to use than their predecessors, with more robust software design and lot's of "Get out of jail free" software you're less likely to run in to problems than ever before.
...BUT ...It can happen! Here's a few tips on how to stay out of trouble.
- Don't Interrupt! - If you're computer seems unresponsive when carrying out a command or installing or uninstalling a piece of software. On a PC you can observe the harddrive light (LED) to confirm your computer is busy, unfortunately on a Mac there is no such light. Wait for the task to complete and become more responsive. Be patient!
- When installing and it says "Don't Switch Off Your Computer" ...DON'T ...This can lead to unrecoverable damage to the operating system and in some cases even your harddrive. When updates are being installed quite often crucial system files are being re-written, if you disturb this process the file(s) may remain incomplete causing you computer to be unable to load the operating system as well as possible loss of data.
- Read what's on the screen - I guess I should have really made this Rule #1 as I often refer to it as this when advising my customers. Often frustrated or confused computer users become "text-blind" when faced with an unforeseen computer problem, in many cases the software provider are trying to guide you with instructions or possible solutions and the answer may well be staring you in the face.
- If you get really stuck and your computer isn't responding for a long time (I don't mean just 5 mins!), observe the harddrive light, if the light is flickering almost constantly then continue to wait (it is working on something), on the other hand if the harddrive light is settling down to an occasional flicker and the computer is still unresponsive then you may want to consider a "hard shutdown" (don't take this step lightly - there is some risk!). To do a hard shutdown hold down the power button for at least 8 seconds, the computer will then power down immediately. NEVER just switch off at the mains! As there is no harddrive light on a Mac time is the best option as you won't really know if the harddrive is busy or not.
- Finally did you back up your stuff? If in doubt back it up now! See my post on backup.