The Positive Side of a Computer Crash: Reducing the Stress of Clutter

I made a big mistake a few days ago.

I have an aging desktop PC. It’s pushing five years old now, but for the most part it’s perfectly capable of handling most tasks associated with blogging. As such, I’ve avoided upgrading, and would love to keep it running as long as possible.

I turned on my computer to start working in the morning a few days ago and it seemed to have stalled. I held the power button to shut it off, and that was when the trouble started. Turns out the computer was updating, and I short circuited the process mid-update. Booting back up brought up the dreaded blue screen of death. A second re-boot did not fix things. My blood started to boil – nothing raises my stress level like a non-functional computer when I’m ready to sit down and write.

I managed to get it working after a system restore, but the next day it happened again. I was once again able to get it booted up after about an hour of restores, reboots, and trying to unplug various devices.

Today it decided to not play so nice, and nothing was working. Blue screens every time I booted. I was ready to put my head through the wall. Searches related to error messages pointed to a corrupted registry. My kids were afraid to come near me. I was not happy.

I decided to cut my losses and re-install windows. It was either that or spend way to much time searching for a solution. Or buy a new computer, which is probably the best answer, but the hardest one to justify to my wife who is suspicious of my electronic device buying habits. If I could salvage this one with a re-install I figured it was worth a shot.

Fortunately, I’m good about backing up my files. I use Dropbox and an eternal hard drive to back up, so nothing major was going to be lost. It was just going to be a bit of a pain to get all of my essential programs loaded back up.

The funny thing is that the moment I hit the button to wipe the machine and re-install, my stress dissipated significantly. And now I sit staring at a clean desktop and I feel a sense of almost relief. My computer had become so cluttered with stuff that cleaning it out was akin to how I felt when my wife and cleared out our basement last weekend. And I’ve been trying to to the same thing with my email inbox – clean house and move forward.

It’s amazing how much stress clutter can build into your life, whether it’s stuff in your basement or digital clutter on your computer. The silver lining of the computer crash maybe a reduction of clutter-related stress going forward. Or maybe I just need a Mac :)

About Peter Larson

I'm a former (tenured) biology professor with diverse interests in the areas of anatomy, evolutionary biology, developmental biology, and exercise science. I'm currently expanding my passion for science education by making the jump to teaching high school biology (quite a change!). In addition to being a dedicated teacher, I'm also an avid blogger - I write about running at and biology/science/life here on The Blogologist. I also work a few hours a week at a sports injury clinic doing running gait analysis, and enjoy chasing around my three active kids. You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Google+, and via email.


  1. Hey Peter, it’s a month late, but in the future you should check out ninite (link to to get a clean OS installation all set up with your programs. You select what you want from their list, and it gives you a single file to download and run that will install everything you want.

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