My 3 Worst Computer Nightmares. What Are Yours?

computer nightmaresLet’s face it. Even for the geekiest computer lovers among us, computers can sometimes turn into a nightmare. Regardless of what your personal nightmares are, we have all faced moments in which we had to restrain ourselves from throwing the darn thing out the window or hold our breath in hope that the latest random trick is fixable.

Some would say this only happens to Windows/Mac/Linux/Laptop/Whatever users; some will say these things only happen to people who don’t actually know how to use computers (until it happens to them, too). Don’t get me wrong, I love computers – they play a huge part in my everyday life and I cannot do without them. But we all have our own personal computer nightmares. These are mine. What are yours?

Broken Laptop Keyboard

This is one of the most annoying things I ever had to face as a laptop user. As long as you use a desktop computer with a standalone keyboard, a broken key is a mere annoyance. But when your laptop’s keyboard breaks, it’s elevated into a true nightmare status.

computer nightmares

The image above may be extreme, but I definitely felt the urge to do just that on the several occasions I had to deal with a broken laptop keyboard. I don’t know about your laptop, but my keyboard breaks extremely easily. I can’t take the keys out to clean or do other  maintenance without breaking at least one key. Sometimes, I come home to find one of the keys lying loose on the keyboard. Why? Just because!

Even when not broken, putting a loose key back in place is comparable to rocket science, and sometimes it pops out again again every time I brush my finger next to it while typing. Did you know that some laptop keys have a complex plastic mechanism underneath, with microscopic pins and clips that break and bend when you breath on them? And did you know that every laptop, even similar  models from the same company, use different mechanisms for keys?

computer fear

Once I took the bus halfway across town to try to track down a used keyboard which I could use for spare keys. It turned out to be from a slightly different model, and therefore used a totally different mechanism. True, you can find spare keys online, and I already had to order some in the past, but does it really have to be this complex?

Adobe Flash Plug-in

This is a good one. Adobe Flash Plug-in. Do you shudder just reading the name? I do, sometimes.

Before I dive into the rant, I will say that I appreciate what Flash has done for technology, and I do believe it has some positive aspects to it, but in everyday life, Adobe Flash browser plug-in can single handedly ruin my browsing sessions, my entire day and my sanity.

computer fear

The all too familiar screenshot above is the least of it. When the Flash browser plug-in crashes, I actually know where I stand. It’s when pages take ages to load, or simply get stuck, all because of some small Flash element in an ad which you are not even aware of – this is when it gets dirty.

Lately, following a friend’s advice, I blocked my browser’s Flash plug-in. When I want to use Flash, I enable it manually. You wouldn’t believe the difference this has made to my browsing experience.  If you’re having similar experiences with Flash, I urge you to try it as well. This is one nightmare we can actually fight!

Windows Not Loading

I know Mac/Linux lovers will be all over me for this one. Some Windows fans might be too. But yes, this is one of my worst computer nightmares, although it has not come true in the past few years.

Let me start by saying that I grew up in a Mac house. I did not touch a non-Mac machine until Windows 95 was out (and we all remember what a fantastic OS that was…). It came as a complete surprise to me that the thing can decide not to load whenever it wants to. I remember the frustration of watching that “loading” screen, praying for it to go on and finish the loading process, only to have to give up and try to reboot – yet again.

computer nightmares

This is something I went through again and again, until Windows 7 came out. Since then, this computer nightmare has not come true even once. But I still hold my breath for a few seconds every time I reboot my machine. Will it actually load again, or will it hang? I wonder how long it will take me to stop being slightly scared every single time I restart my computer and have to sit there watching that pretty “loading” animation. Maybe in Windows 2020.

Bottom Line

I have to stress again that I am not a negative person. We all have small things that drive us crazy, and these are just some of mine. After all, if we don’t talk about it, how will we ever be able to treat these lightly?

Now it’s your turn. What are your worst computer nightmares? Broken hardware? Bad software? Strangers playing with your setup? Share them all in the comments!

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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  1. Axeoasis
    December 31, 2015 at 12:30 am

    It seems i'm about 4 years behind this post :O but here's my input:

    I'm currently dealing with a laptop issue in which Windows 7 has insane waiting times on the HDD (Slow Access) after a late night check disk. I'm suspecting either OS corruption or it is in major need of a defrag. Either way, i've had the thing less than a week and this is not what i was expecting at all :(

  2. Indronil Mondal
    December 21, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    a huge download failing on 98 %

    • Yaara
      December 21, 2011 at 8:10 pm

      Oooo.. yeah. Hasn't happened to me since the happy days of dial up connection. Nightmare!

  3. Swaminathan Venkatesh
    December 21, 2011 at 10:09 am

    Not really a nightmare, but a hilarious one. Back in Win 98 days, I powered on the PC without connecting a keyboard(was assembling for my friend). Very first screen told me,

    "Error: Keyboard not present. Press F11 to continue" !!!!!!

    • Jack Cola
      December 21, 2011 at 10:37 am

      lol - well it just forces you to get a keyboard then...

    • Yaara
      December 21, 2011 at 11:16 am

      That IS hilarious. :))

  4. Jack Cola
    December 20, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    Computer not booting up.

    My computer is on for about 12 hours per day. Go on holidays for 5 days, it boots, but freezes. Turn it off and back on, Windows doesn't load, and stars beeping. Turn it off, back on, it boots up again.

    Months later, I left it off 2 two days, so thing. So sporadic. Did a system restore (after noticing it did a Windows Update), works fine. But for the beeping, it doesn't sound right - I'm guessing it was a hardware than a software issue.

    But when computers don't start, it's a pain.

    • Yaara
      December 21, 2011 at 5:59 am

      Definitely. I had computers not boot for the weirdest reasons. It's such a scare. I truly hate it.

  5. afaq786alam
    December 20, 2011 at 8:00 am

    Some crazy virus once changed my BIOS password coz of which i got stuck and had no other option than opening the box and removing CMOS battery to reset the settings of BIOS.

  6. afaq786alam
    December 20, 2011 at 7:53 am

    Some crazy virus changed my BIOS password which made it impossible for me to use my pc.I removed CMOS battery to reset BIOS.

    • Yaara
      December 21, 2011 at 5:57 am

      That's crazy!

  7. jimfoolery
    December 20, 2011 at 3:22 am

    For me, right now, is my HP monitor randomly popping up the OSD and cycling through. Of course, none of the buttons work. It's only two years old and they won't/can't fix it. Win Vista 64-bit. Also, NTLDR missing on a Dell. Check the X: drive.

    • Yaara
      December 20, 2011 at 7:38 am

      Is Win Vista 64-bit a nightmare all on its own? :)

  8. Chase
    December 20, 2011 at 2:58 am

    I think a broken screen is a bigger nightmare than a flash crash or broken keyboard. just sayin

    • Yaara
      December 20, 2011 at 7:37 am

      Well, a computer that's not working at all is probably the worst nightmare of all, but I was sticking to things I'm actually experiencing or have experienced. 

      My worst REAL nightmares, those that never happened yet, are probably much worse, and too scary to think about. :)

  9. Henry J. Lahman
    December 20, 2011 at 2:36 am

    what I hate even more is that I broke the screen on my laptop so now i'm forced to just use it as a desktop

  10. Anonymous
    December 19, 2011 at 11:47 pm

    Laptop low on juice when you have no power socket around.
    Intermittent auto power off and the problem ain't the fan or temperature.
    Rootkit spywares.
    Excel or word crashing when you want to open a second document to compare and you haven't saved the first document.

    The keyboard problem sort of went away since everyone went chiclet style.

    • Joel Lee
      December 20, 2011 at 1:08 am

      Oh geez. As someone who used to take my laptop to every single one of my college classes, the "low battery without a nearby power socket" problem would give me heart attacks!

      And I just recovered from a rootkit infection. That stuff ain't a joke...

    • Yaara
      December 20, 2011 at 7:35 am

      I guess you're right about the keyboard, but I'm still using the old style one (my laptop isn't that old, actually), and I really hate it.

      Thanks for the rest of them. Auto power off sucks!

  11. Anonymous
    December 19, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    My worst were a motherboard failure which, in itself, wouldn't be that big a problem but the RAID array needed an identical MB RAID controller (who knew they were different?) and the current version of the MB from the same manufacturer had changed RAID controllers. I ended up with a new computer, two powered external 3.5" drive bays, and a RAID recovery tool just to get back my data. I also learned to back up much more often.

    Then again, my second worst was that my backup drive failed. Sometimes you just can't win.

    • Yaara
      December 20, 2011 at 7:34 am

      Man, that sucks. It's like my keyboard issue, only MUCH worse.

  12. el tio ska
    December 19, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    My Windows nightmares mostly ended up with Windows xp. But before that, Windows 98 used to drive me insane. It was completely random; used to crash for no apparent reason, in programs such as Word or Wordpad(!). When I got my hands on Windows xp and the crashes stopped, I felt reborn.

    Flash is a pain in the neck, butt, and just about anywhere else. I hate it and hope it ceases to exist asap. (Sorry for the rant!)

    Nowadays my nightmare would be both my two laptops not booting and internet not working (to look up solutions!). I have a few linux live cds & a Win 7 installation cd, but it would be such a waste of time! That's why I like to use portable apps (and keep a copy on a USB stick) - to avoid installation upon a *gasp* reinsallation :o)

    Oh: and pet hate is Facebook Messages ... I so much prefer email.

    Cool post. Thanks

    • Yaara
      December 20, 2011 at 7:32 am

      Thanks for the comment! Having all computers not booting and no internet is such a huge nightmare I didn't even dare write about it. :)

      Oh, and Facebook messages suck. I totally agree!

  13. Theapoc
    December 19, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    If you are crashing flash and windows on a regular basis your problem is between keyboard and brain, not something inherent to the software...

    • Anonymous
      December 19, 2011 at 11:51 pm

      Do tell me how flash can actually be a user's issue.

      Anyway i think flash crashes only when i use Chrome, probably due to their crappy sandbox implementation for flash.

      • Henry J. Lahman
        December 20, 2011 at 2:32 am

        I find if I try to load to multiple pages with heavy flash (youtube video and a flash game) at the same time or have too many tabs open it'll crash due to memory issues

    • RAKtheUndead
      May 27, 2012 at 9:02 pm

      I'm running openSUSE Linux, one of the most reliable and robust operating systems I've ever had my hands on. My Flash installation is about as reliable as Windows Me under heavy load. You think that's a PEBKAC issue? I think it's a consequence of Flash being absolutely shit.

  14. Lee
    December 19, 2011 at 7:51 pm

    I've never had Windows just randomly not boot, although most of my experiences are with Windows XP and 7. I have used Windows 3.1 to Windows 2000 though (except for ME) and none of those ever just hung on boot either.

    • Yaara
      December 19, 2011 at 8:26 pm

      That's pretty lucky. I had some weird things happen to me over the years, even in Windows 2000, which I loved and refused to stop using (skipped XP straight to 7).

  15. Sheila Warner
    December 19, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    Back in the 90s when I first started using PCs for college work, my biggest nightmare was a hard disk crash. It actually happened to me twice in 2 years, but then that was the 90s.

    These days, it's mostly software-based glitches and security concerns that get my goat.

    • Yaara
      December 19, 2011 at 8:21 pm

      I actually never had a hard disk crash on me when it matters. Oh, famous last words.. I'm going to back everything up RIGHT NOW.

      • Anonymous
        December 19, 2011 at 11:48 pm

        the newer HDD disks (within these pass 5 years) have a reduction in life span.
        Even seagate and western digital just announced their warranty reduction.

  16. Joshua Clarke
    December 19, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    Windows start up: "Bootmgr is missing"

    *bangs head against wall*

    • Yaara
      December 19, 2011 at 8:20 pm

      That's a good one. :)

    • Aibek
      December 31, 2011 at 11:40 am

      happened to me as well. that was my worst one.