Take care when you move computer Relocation: A few steps can help ease the trauma of transplanting your machine to your new home

My first rule of PC moving is to save all boxes.

October 12, 1998|By Bill Husted | Bill Husted,COX NEWS SERVICE

I once calculated that - in my long life - I have purchased 18 lawn mowers, 12 refrigerators and six leaf blowers. I have moved more often than a con man on the lam. I should get a discount at the rent-a-truck place.

I've learned a lot by moving so often. For one thing, I've learned that if you drop a futon down the stairs, it is best just to let it go. Grabbing a speeding futon can be briefly interesting but highly dangerous.

Since I have lived with and around computers since before IBM introduced the original IBM Personal Computer in 1981, I have also acquired a fair to middlin' knowledge of how to move a personal computer. Moving a PC has gotten easier over the years. When I started with them, a computer's hard disk was as sensitive as a teen-ager going through puberty. The slightest jolt could send your hard disk to computer heaven.

PCs and their hard disks are less sensitive these days, but moving any electronic gear is still a delicate task. Since most of will end up moving a computer one of these days, let me offer some tips based on too much experience.

My first rule of PC moving is to save all boxes. Those boxes with Styrofoam inserts can't be beat for moving computers, monitors and printers. I know it's tempting to throw all the packing material away. But they're customized just for your equipment. It is the perfect way to move.

We talked about hard disk drives, but there's another kind of drive in your computer: a floppy disk drive. Cut a piece of cardboard (the kind cleaners use when they fold shirts) and insert it into the floppy disk drive. That'll keep the magnetic head of the floppy drive from banging around. Make sure you leave a tab on the outside of the cardboard so it is easy to remove.

If you're moving from Atlanta to Oregon, you'll need to take more care than if the PC is going across town. For really long moves, you have to spend some time worrying about the accessory cards inside your computer. These cards can become loose in their slots - even though they're secured with a screw. If that happens, your computer will malfunction when you turn it on at the new location. And in a few cases, the loose card can permanently damage your computer by creating a short circuit.

There are two ways to attack this problem. You can wait until you arrive at the new location and remove and then reseat each of these cards. Or, you can remove the cards before moving (making sure to pack them in the anti-static pouches that they came in). For most folks, it makes more sense to leave the cards in the machine and reseat them when you arrive.

If at all possible, try not to move your PC in the moving van or a closed truck, especially in the summer. The extreme heat can hurt the machine, and the ride also is much more harsh. The best way to move a computer is to pack it in the box and then to carry the box inside your car.

Finally, unless you are a whiz at assembling and reassembling computer systems, it's a real time saver to mark all the connections using stick-on labels. That way, you won't have to puzzle with, say, the sound card trying to figure which of the identical jacks is used for your speakers.

That's it, the short course in moving a computer.

If you follow these tips (and if you can avoid grabbing a speeding futon), you'll soon be up and running again.

Send e-mail to tecbujc.com.

Pub Date: 10/12/98

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