This post was written by Sandra Marr (aka TechRepublic member CTOS).

I spend a lot of time on the road and on the phone, helping other people get their computers to function – but when it comes to my home office PC and my children’s PCs, there isn’t enough time in the day to fix them. Each time I decide this will be the day they get my attention, the phone rings….

The crippled Windows Vista machine, with a high-speed processor and huge amount of RAM, can’t install anything right now and forgets where programs are, so it refuses to open them. From day one of its life, this PC has been announcing that it has a defective hard drive that will crash at any second. It’s been running over a year on this hard drive, but now it constantly “loses” things. I have stand by hard drives sitting here – external drives and secondary drives with mirror copies of the OS – but the time to actually perform the transferring of the OS never seems to exist. This sets the stage as to how I will get tasks done, or if I will get them done at all.

The HP tablet with Windows XP Professional is missing its input pen, and it won’t charge unless it’s on the dock – meaning the keyboard is folded underneath. It’s extremely low in RAM, making it the slowest PC in the office and thus the last one you would choose to perform any task. I actually made the time to get this PC back running, because my youngest daughter is very talented in the trashing department, and I wanted to get her off my Vista machine. However, she gets irritated over the slowness and lack of keyboard, so she continues to haunt my main PC.

The Toshiba laptop is also running Windows XP, but on the 28th day of its life, my oldest daughter decided to dump a large container of water across it, so it has severe water damage and is the most hindered PC in the house. If it gets shut down, for any reason, it takes a lot of effort to get it to boot up again. I have to remove the battery, attempt to boot, slap the battery back in place and repeat about 12 times before that wonderful XP logo shows up on the screen.

Right now, I have to use the XP laptop if I need to create, print, or open a PDF file, because the tablet is much too slow to accomplish office task routines. Unfortunately, the laptop doesn’t know that I have a Canon IP dual-sided printer, because my Vista machine, which controls the network, forgets that it can “see” XP computers now. To print, I have to carry the laptop to another level of the house and connect it with a wired cable to the printer. The Vista machine is capable of doing other tasks, like editing my videos and exporting them online. In fact, the speed of the Vista processor makes it the only PC in my home worth attempting this procedure.

When I have numerous tasks to accomplish in one day, it involves a rolling office chair, three computers, USB keys, and multiple desks to get them done. Since I run an “on site” small business, I do all facets of business in my home office… when the PCs are agreeable, that is!

Are you too busy fixing other people’s PCs to fix your own? Share your experiences in the discussion thread.