Have you tried turning it off and on again?

So yesterday I woke up to my computer giving me the universal sign for “NOPE”…

…and I considered that this was the universe’s way of giving me the day off but Victor said that’s not how days off work so I tried to fix it but the furthest I could get was a flashing folder giving me the universal “what the shit have you done?” symbol…

…and I was like, “I DON’T FUCKING KNOW” and I spent hours trying to fix it using a variety of suggested steps from the internet that were so unhelpful I decided to make my own more realistic one:

Is your computer all borked up and shit? Follow these simple steps:

  1. Hold down the command button and also every third button on your keyboard for exactly 27.4 seconds.
  2. Enter the password for something you didn’t even know you ever had a password for.
  3. Forgot your password? Click to send a recovery link to the email you no longer have access to and/or also don’t know the password to.
  4. Restart the computer while holding your 8th grade report card in your left hand.
  5. Reload applications
  6. Consider googling “What are applications and how to reload them” but realize you can’t because your computer is broken.
  7. Realize your warranty expired 18 seconds ago.
  8. Eat a sandwich angrily.
  9. Regret not learning what a “cloud” is and how to put things in it.
  10. Continue following long step-by-step recovery process. On step 10 realize this list was written in 2004 and is now outdated.
  11. Start over again with a new step-by-step written last week. Realize halfway through it’s outdated as well.
  12. Download updated browser.
  13. Follow error signs saying you can’t download browser without updated flash.
  14. Update flash.
  15. Follow error signs saying you can’t download flash without updated browser.
  16. Consider becoming Amish.
  17. Remember how much you like cat videos.
  18. Call tech support. Get advice that doesn’t work.
  19. Call tech support. Get opposing advice from second guy who says the other guy didn’t know what he was talking about but which also doesn’t work.
  20. Repeat step 19. Several times.
  21. Call tech support. Lady says that the computer problem you’re describing isn’t even possible.
  22. Doubt everything, including own existence.
  23. Call tech support. New guy listens to your extremely long rant about everything you’ve tried. Asks, “Have you tried turning it off and on again?” Lay your head on the keyboard and cry softly.
  24. Try turning it on and off again even though you’ve already done that multiple times just to show the tech guy you’re not a fucking idiot.
  25. Stare at the wall and grind your teeth into dust when that totally works.
  26. When they guy asks, “That fixed it, right?” lie to him and tell him you have to go because you have to set your office on fire.
  27. Start back at step one 25 minutes later when everything crashes again.

And that’s basically how my day went except for the fire and the fact that in the end we ended up having to buy a whole new computer and reload everything and I think I have everything recovered but now I really do need the day off to recover from yesterday.

PS. Learn from me. BACK-UP YOUR SHIT.

89 thoughts on “Have you tried turning it off and on again?

Read comments below or add one.

  1. I had a ransom wear attack on my work computer a few years ago. Since then I use a program called Carbonite. It backs up my work every three minutes and I don’t have to do anything except send them money every year. I LOVE it!

  2. I’m here to help! I use a Mac as well and work and own an IT consulting company. Best advice ever….BACK UP YOUR SHIT!! Hang in there!

  3. I’m so sorry the universe felt a need to test you yesterday. But you WON by not becoming Amish just because technology was trying to obliterate your soul.
    Well done!!!

  4. Huge hugs. Dealing with IT support can often be difficult. Some staff at call centers are awesome, get it and start helping you at your level. Some start at the very basic stuff (is it plugged in?) even after you explain all the things you have tried.
    And as someone who offered tech support for a short time – some clients need to be asked if the computer is plugged in. Frustration on both sides. Lol.

  5. I never back my shit up on my personal computer. When they die I just assume I didn’t need that shit anymore anyway (and I don’t). But this last time hubby insisted I pay the tech folks $$$ to back up my hard drive. So now I’m the proud owner of an external hard filled with shit I never need to look at, but I did pay $200 for it so I guess it’s important…..?

    Work stuff is on a cloud but really only so I can access it wherever I am since work doesn’t ever know if I should be in the office, or at home or at some other office.

  6. My ancient cell phone was giving up, so replaced it. First option was to place the two phones near each other to offload everything. Worked fine for about 5 minutes, then I kept getting the message to place the phones nearer to each other. One was literally directly abutting the other. Finally had to reset the new phone then start the process again using the cloud.

  7. How do you put anything it the cloud without it falling through the cloud and getting all bunged up n’all. I mean I’m not stupid. I know clouds aren’t fluffy cushions that you can sit on. I mean when you’re dead and have turned into an angel you can do it cause you are an angel. But regular live folks can’t sit on a cloud and you can’t put anything in a cloud like I just said. So now I am very confused.

  8. Now I really want to know what that ‘NOPE’ and “what the shit have you done?” icons really mean. Anyone?

  9. 8 and 22 are constantly in rotation for me, but I am happily adding 16 to the mix! Thanks, Jenny!

  10. Oh girl. Feel your pain. Had the same thing happen to me but OMG, it made me a Mac-head for life because I never backed up my shit but after buying new iMac, VOILA! There was everything except the last 30 minutes of my dead computer’s life. SAVED! I’ve never felt so much anguish and relief in such a short amount of time.

  11. Technology is great when it works. When it doesn’t, I usually try yelling at it before turning it off/on, unplugging/plugging, etc. Doesn’t help fix the problem, but makes me feel a little better.
    I ended up on a 3-way conference call this week trying to get my bank’s computer to talk nicely to my homeowners insurance computer when they were, apparently, involved of some sort of spat concerning my insurance premium (which is supposed to be paid automatically out of my escrow account). Eventually we had to involve IT people and at that point things got fuzzy and I think I blacked out for a moment. Allegedly, things are resolved but I still have my doubts. Sigh.

  12. Eek – that sounds horribly frustrating. I woke up Wednesday to my work laptop not turning on no matter what I tried and I flashed forward to my entire day being spent either on the phone with our IT guy or at the Apple store. After 20 minutes of heart palpitations I realized that even though my computer had been plugged in all night, it didn’t register the fact that it was plugged in and should be charging and the battery had completely drained over night. I plugged the cord into a different outlet, plugged it back into the computer and got the ‘battery is totally dead but now charging’ icon. Technology is…fun?

  13. This about sums up why I have a computer expert husband and a pc so he can fix everything. Otherwise, the computer might as well be on fire because I’d be crying and breaking computers beyond repair frequently. Sending hugs.

  14. ShellBee, pretty sure our computers share a 6-Degrees-of-Kevin-Bacon kind of thing because I went thru that same shit, too.
    Cheer up, Jenny – at least you got a new computer and an excuse to take today off. Could be worse – you could’ve had to say something like, “Victor is right.”

  15. Mercury goes retrograde in 3 days. Blame the planets. I’ve so been there tho, and one good thing to know is that there is a big difference between a restart and a complete shut down, and apparently there is even a difference sometimes if you shut down and unplug it, then plug it back in. Amazing what the little buggers do in the background that we don’t know about, even when we think they don’t have power. Backing up using Time Machine is definitely your best bet tho. And you don’t have to put it all on the cloud where it’s out there for any hacker to find. You can do it to an external hard drive just as well and let it sit in your office. Then the only trouble is your office being on fire. 🙂

  16. Awwwwww – this so sucks !! Been there and done that and now I’ve got things double backed up to multiple locations ‘just in case’ sorta like grabbing that umbrella to ward off rain – Hope you find your way out SOON

  17. The universe was giving me the “NOPE” sign too! I spent an hour with our IT contact from my organization to get unblocked from logging into my account. In a comedy of errors, my computer wasn’t accepting my password which I was sure was the right one. Then I got blocked from my account. Then our IT rep couldnt get in through remote access which we discovered was because I somehow booted myself out of our network.

    Turns out I was right on the password, but it wasn’t working because several of the letters on my key board just stopped functioning, but I didnt know that until much later.

  18. I hate it when the computer betrays you by pretending to be fixed when IT is watching and then imediately failing when they leave…don’t they know only cats get a pass on that kind of nonsense.

  19. You deserve a day off. Go swim or stare at a kitty, maybe? Those help me, anyway. Congratulations on your eventual new computer!

  20. I have homework, but apparently I am also going to organize my computer and back it up this weekend.

    Sorry you’re going through this, this is no fun. No fun!

  21. I went to college for network engineering and hit my tech ceiling a few years later when they took real keyboards off of cell phones and started calling them smart. Done. And I still typo everything. You need a day at the beach.

  22. Pretty sure this is because you got vaccinated. I mean, I also got vaccinated, and I’m typing this on my new laptop with my old, non-working laptop sitting beside me in case there is something I need off it bad enough to take it to the Geek Squad to see if they can recover it. Not sure how much more proof you need that vaccinations cause computer crashes.

  23. Back in the dinosaur ages pressing “control, alt, delete” on a PC at the exact same time used to work on everything, or unplugging it and plugging it back in. If all else failed your IT support person would come replace the motherboard. Unfortunately the first option does NOT work with Apple products, and instead of a friendly local IT support person paying a visit, you have to call overseas to someone who is flipping through a “fixing computers for idiots” manual to figure out what you did wrong and how to fix it, and you can’t understand their accented English, and they have trouble understanding your accented English. When it gets really bad they transfer you after about 3 different phone calls with various customer service reps to a stateside IT expert who actually knows exactly what is wrong and helps you fix it for real, or they tell you the whole thing is fried and you have to get a new computer. Sigh…. Back up everything to either the cloud or a memory stick or a drive, have a drink, meditate, or watch funny cat videos on your smartphone until you feel less angry and/or anxious after the whole series of unfortunate events that technology made you go through the 7 stages of grief on the loss of your computer. Sending virtual hugs to you.

  24. I would get a service like iDrive (nothing to do with Apple). You install a client and it backs up to their servers. They also have clients for phones.

  25. I typed a whole thing about how Windows is easier to fix, but the page errored when I hit post, so no idea if it went through so, Apple computers are nice, but almost impossible to recover when they crash. Windows is easy to fix and Google is super helpful when there is a crash. Also, never use Apple tech support, find a private computer repair person to do the work for you.

  26. I have a remarkably parallel experience every other time I attempt to pick up a prescription from the pharmacy or schedule a vaccination … consistently beginning with ‘NOPE’

  27. BACK-UP YOUR SHIT is the single most important thing I’ve learned when it comes to computers. I’m a writer, though not professionally I just like the write stories, and the first time you lose 50k perfect words because of a sudden unrepairable computer break… It’s heartbreaking and you *learn* from it. Back up everything, in multiple places if possible.

    That step-by-step guide is scarily accurate, especially the parts about outdated guides and being told to do things you didn’t even know were things at all. It sucks you had to buy a new computer, but glad you got everything recovered!

  28. Would love to become your Amish sister if you’d have me.

    Just moved and trying to connect ALL the goddamn things to the new, super shitty router/modem/wifi… who knows? Also, I like to pronounce it “Wiffy” because, why not. Try it, it’s fun.

    I was *this close* to taking a sledgehammer to the printer, lighting a match to the whole house, and starting a new life somewhere else. Instead, I talked to several tech support people who didn’t help one iota and bought a new printer. It’s just as well since I cannot find the sledgehammer since the move.

    May your Clouds and your Wiffy always be strong and happy.

  29. Hey, I’m relatively tech savvy-used to work in house help desk a billion years ago- and

    SO MUCH #23.


    They don’t let tech support people think anymore. You just have to do the damn steps like a robot even though you just told them that you did them, or why you can’t do them, say because you are calling about a busted keyboard so no you can press command-alt-damnit all day and nothing will happen.

    Also I don’t have twitter so I couldn’t send you a message on Bi-visbility day, but I thought about you. Hugs.

  30. Oh that sucks! I’m so sorry you had to endure this fresh hell. I’ve sadly been here before & ended up having to buy a new motherboard & I lost a lot of my shit. Eventually I, too just bought a new iMac & sprung for the big iCloud account. EVERYTHING is backed up on cloud servers as well as an external drive, just in case. Learning from our stupid mistakes is a shitty way to learn, IMO.

  31. Hi Jenny,
    I notice you have a Mac, which simplifies things.
    Mac comes with “Time Machine”, an automatic back-up program.
    For less than a hundred bucks, you can buy a reliable external drive (shaped like a book!) that will hold years or decades of your old stuff, starting the minute you turn it on.
    My recollection is that, when you plug in a new hard drive, your Mac will ask you if you want to use it as a Time Machine backup. Say yes, and that’s it.

    I’ve had frighteningly bad experiences with iCloud, Apple’s cloud backup system. It has simply lost very important documents at random. FORTUNATELY, I have my Time Machine backup to fix it.

    I like the Western Digital Elements drive, but there are lots of good ones.

    The only caveat is that the drive has to be formatted for a Mac. Some come that way, and some don’t, but they can all be reformatted for Mac with very little trouble.

    Victor will be able to hook you up in a few minutes.

    Best Regards and hoping this never happens again,
    Don Greenberg

  32. My husband is a tech guy, and he calls your experience a “wetware” issue. The problem is the wet stuff tech support hired to attempt to fix your issue. I’m glad all is recovered and you got a new machine.

    *running to back up my 83746161837474 files and photos immediately.

  33. I know how stressful this can be. Sending you hugs and happy vibes!
    And seriously, I laughed so much at your amusing take on a shitty situation. Your shitty day became a nice diversion from my shitty day. You’re doing god’s work, queen. <3

  34. I typed something and it went away so your tech problem transcended here to me.
    Regardless, I feel your pain. Also, your retelling of a shitty experience made my shitty day 10000% better with laughter. Your wit never ceases to amaze me <>. I love you and hope you’re having a fabulous Friday. <3

  35. As I am married to an IT Specialist, I can relate to this soooooo very much! And, he knows better than to ever ask me, “have you turned it off and back on again” to me, ever again! I typically break at least one laptop a year and he’s given up, he just buys me a new one, because I somehow manage to do things to them even he cannot figure out what the hell I have done. 🙁 I wish you all the best…now, go find a new laptop is my best suggestion, and save yourself some frustration.

  36. IT egghead comment warning: don’t rely only on Time Machine, but get Carbon Copy Cloner and an external drive. You can leave that drive connected and have a task in CCC that clones your internal drive once a day. If/when the Hella No You’re Not Opening Your Apps Today, Chicken Lady sign pops up, you can boot from that external drive.

    Thoughts and prayers! And bootable backups! I’m sorry I used words such as “internal” and “boot” and I will now wash my laptop with soap! (Once CCC stops cloning the drive…)

  37. Oof. I have been there and done that. Twice. Because apparently I’m a slow learner. Even an external hard drive died on me. I finally signed up for Carbonite and it was the best investment EVER. Everything is backed up automatically. Easy peasy and it’s saved my ass several times.

  38. You know what you get when you get a MacBook? You get your life back!
    No virus, cloud backup and all Apple devices sync up so your photos, messages, etc are accessible from my IPhone, tablet, laptop. Will NEVER buy a Microsoft product again.

  39. Bawhahaha my first advice was going to be your #28 which is just skip 1-27 buy a new computer and smash the old one with a baseball bat. Thanks for coming to my Ted talk on computer repair :0)

  40. I tried to repair an old glitchy MacBook recently and got a message on the restart screen: “Downloading additional components. Your computer will restart automatically. About 505,818,989 hours and 5 minutes remaining”

    And 5 minutes???

  41. Oh my, I totally feel you. We had a laptop experience a catastrophic shut down years ago before there was such a thing as a “cloud” and we lost everything, including pictures we had never backed up. It was devastating. When these suckers decide they’re done, they are REALLY done!

  42. I worked in tech support for 20 years and the digital grass is no greener on the other side.

    Total fan girl I bought four copies of your last book including the digital one!

    Thank you thank you and thank you!

  43. I put everything on an external hard drive. I’m too tired to write more, but I feel your pain.

  44. OMG! Does your eejit computer know my eejit computer? If so they totally were laughing at us yesterday.

  45. I really hope that computer isn’t where you keep your bookshop records. By the way, what software are you using for your accounting for that bookstore? I work in accounting so boring stuff like this fascinates me. 🙂

    (Bookmanager. But not on my computer. That’s all done at the store. 🙂 ( ~ Jenny)

  46. I am reminded of my late friend John, who was a bona fide computer genius in the early 80s. He worked for a brokerage in NYC, and one day he called and said he’d been working a hideously long stretch trying to recover millions in transactions. He said, “I’m the only person who’s brilliant enough to recover it. However, I’m the only person brilliant enough to do the thing that lost it in the first place.”

  47. OK so… regarding the backing up of the things… once I needed to back up a computer before sending it in for repair. I put all of The Important Things in a folder, and dragged the Important Things to a CD burner and left it to run. Came back like an hour later, popped out the CD with The Important Things and cheerfully sent in the computer for repair. It comes back maybe a week later, freshly reimaged and ready to put The Important Things back onto. I popped in the CD, and discovered that the folder was nothing more and nothing less than A LINK to the location of the folder. Not a single file. Whoops. Fortunately I had saved some of The Important Things elsewhere about six months before that, but I lost all of the work for that six month period. I might have cried just a little but it is funny as hell now!!

  48. I tried to update the OS on my 2014 ipad and it kept giving me an error code. I looked up the error code and someone said to point a blow dryer at the sim card tray while updating. It worked.

  49. Joy said: “Now I really want to know what that ‘NOPE’ and “what the shit have you done?” icons really mean. Anyone?”

    “NOPE” most likely means it can’t find the hard drive at all. (Is there a hard drive in this computer? NOPE).

    “What the shit have you done?” means that it found the hard drive and the operating system, but the operating system is hosed. (What the shit have you done to the OS folder? I’m not doing a damn thing with this mess.)

  50. Well, now you know you have mad skills for writing computer help instructions. I would make a joke about one of your steps but I’d jinx myself. Hahahaha.

  51. That’s not the universal sign for Nope. That’s just the sign for those who use the Devil Fruit Tech. I don’t use Devil Fruit. I hate them and all their evil stupid “we have to do things differently than every other company and software and plug because we’re special” smug selves.

  52. The most annoying thing working on a computer all day is the “Did you turn it off and back on again?” like IDK why that is the go-to for every issue, like it just doesn’t make any sense!! (turning it off and back on only has worked like once or twice for me, most of the time there is something REALLY broken that needs to be fixed on the I.T. end) that being said, what kind of computer did you get?? I’m thinking of upgrading my 2012 Hp laptop… but it’s so hard because it has a CD player built in and I know the newer laptops don’t have that feature and I am a creature of habit and love my CD Player.

  53. OMG, I can’t stop laughing!! My husband has a solution to dilemmas like this – he hands me a piece of paper and a nice sharp #2 pencil and says “figure it out!”

  54. Learnt that from years ago when my computer had a total meltdown and I lost my last two years digital photos – including ones from my son’s wedding, which turned out to be his first wedding so no harm done then really.

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  58. UGH what a pain in the tush! I made the mistake of upgrading to Big Sur whatever is going on right now and my computer took like two hours to load it and restarted itself four or five times. I feel your pain.

  59. —Which is why I now have a laptop which lives downstairs and this one now has a new motherboard (why does that sound naughty?) and it now pulses at me. A touch typist should never get a tablet. Never.

    you have my sympathy.
    yu also have a spammer….

  60. All right, so this is totally unrelated but I feel the urge to write you for the first time and I read your books so it’s not an email😅 I was severely traumatized in childhood by my alcoholic dad and entire family dynamics, I am clinically depressed, going through a very rough patch and also impostor mother, wife and academic. First, I want to say that you save me everyday from the lies my depression is telling me. Second, you are my best friend right now. In the sense that I can watch you on YouTube or listen to your books and this makes me wanna stay here and also you get it. Great thing is that I don’t even have to talk to you (interaction makes me superanxious) and don’t be mistaken, I have great friends, but I am always afraid I don’t wanna burden anybody cause it makes me feel worse. And I have a therapist obviously, but she is not my friend.
    So thank you for all the good work and for making me feel like I am not alone with my monsters. You are awesome!

  61. I am a techie who’s also an artist! No one explained what’s happened w/your Mac! The folder question mark icon says, “I get that you want something and by golly I’d love to, but where’s my System folder? If I don’t have my brain I’m a zombie.” This explanation should thus make him a creature a Bloggess will understand, though I’d mention to him, this “Trick’s” a touch early for Halloween.
    You could try unplugging him from everything, waiting a few minutes, then re-plug just him in and power on again. Maybe he accidentally choked on some code and passed out, and now will spring back, his old sunny self.
    Since it’s just a System error and not totally dead, a Genius at the Apple Store can use their Macs to revive yours.
    After this, turn on Time Machine and set your Preferences to back up your files automatically. You can use iCloud, buy an external drive to plug into your Mac (GDrives are a pro brand), or do both.
    Check under the Apple symbol for “System Preferences” then “Software Update” and set it to “Download new Updates.” This is an excellent way to keep everything running tip-top.
    A very good investment is a Power Conditioner with a battery backup. Should you lose electricity suddenly, the Power Conditioner has a Battery that is your safety net. You are able to Save and Exit your work without data loss. Power Conditioning lets your computer sip a smooth stream of electricity without spike or sags that damage machines, cutting your computer’s lifespan without you knowing it. APC makes an excellent machine, sold in places like Best Buy. Anyone doing WFH needs to add this to their setup as we move to winter weather.

  62. Reading this post made my day. But then, it doesn’t take much joy to improve a chronic pain day. So, I can’t accurately assess how great your writing is?

    It seems great. But my hips are on fire and my heat pad might just be aggravating them, so any humor seems like comedy gold if it can distract me right now.

    So again, thanks for this post that either is or is not amazing. I’m leaning towards is amazing because for a few minutes I forgot about the hips thing.

    Love your heart, lady.

  63. Cloud. Always the cloud. I sleep a lot easier at night since I started putting everything on my OneDrive. (I’m an IT person, BTW.) Put your shit on the cloud! Right now.

  64. Okay so I had a really long day yesterday and my boss gave me some pretty unpleasant news for the whole team. I just read this blog and I laughed so hard tears came into my eyes. I just want to thank you for writing something so silly and funny, pertaining to a lesson that we’ve all learned the hard way. This was my first experience with your work and I will definitely be buying one of your books now on the chance that it will give me the same kind of laugh.

  65. I literally punched my laptop this week in frustration, and oddly, that was the thing that worked. i’m not necessarily recommending this method, but it was very satisfying

  66. You can handle WordPress – I have seriously considered changing my name and running away to the Turkish side of cypress trying to fix a WordPress site without crashing the site.

    The postcard thing you set up a few years ago, I don’t know if I’d still be here without it.

    Thank you

  67. $100 a year and everything is continually backed up to Microsoft OneDrive. EVERYTHING. My computer could burst into flames and I wouldn’t lose a thing. Except the computer and probably the desk it was sitting on. And the gothic/steampunk poster of dancing opossums hanging on the wall.

    But all my files would be safe.

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