Sara's Column: The adventure begins

I don’t use my home desktop computer all that often.
Jul 25, 2014
Sara McManamy-Johnson

I don’t use my home desktop computer all that often. 

It’s more of a trusty standby for when I need to do something that’s resource-intensive, like editing a whole slew of photos. The system may be on the older side as far as computers go (about five years old), but I’ve done enough upgrades to make it a decent system for at least a few more years.

And it’s still more powerful than both of my laptops.

Well, one day last week I went to use it. I hit the power button, and nothing.

I hit the button again. And again. Because of course if I just hit the button hard enough and often enough, it would eventually turn on.


I didn’t have time just then to try to get it working, so I put it on my to-do list. 

So Thursday, I finally decided to tackle it.

I knew going into it that there aren’t a whole lot of options for what is wrong when the computer won’t power up, but I was hoping maybe it was something simple. Maybe there’s a problem with the power strip. Maybe the cord just jostled loose.

Granted, since I hadn’t actually moved my tower in more than six months, I knew this was primarily wishful thinking.

But ever the optimist, I unplugged everything before re-plugging them all back in, making sure they were seated well. I pressed the button.


I swap outlets on the power strip.

Still nothing.

Finally, I conceded. My power supply was toast. Time to crack open the case.

I opened it and stared – not without trepidation – at the mass of wires spilling in every direction from the power supply unit. 

I’m not a complete newbie to the guts of a computer; I’ve replaced optical drives, Ethernet cards, graphics cards and RAM. But never a power supply.

I grabbed my cellphone and took a few “Before” photos, trying to get shots of every plug. Not having a diagram of what goes where, I figured these photos could serve as a lifeline when I went to install the replacement.

This done, I started unscrewing and unplugging until eventually I was holding a big, metal block with a bunch of wires sticking out.

I briefly considered ordering the replacement online, but decided the safer bet would be to go to a local computer repair shop that sells parts. 

So I hopped in the car, power supply by my side, and headed to the shop. 

When I walked in, the gentleman at the counter asked why I thought the power supply was the problem. I explained my rationale, and he said, “Well, I’ll just test it for you to make sure that really is the problem.”

He walked back in the room not a minute later and said, “It really is dead.”

He grabbed a replacement for me, and I soon after walked out the proud owner of a brand-new power supply (yeah, it looks about as exciting as it sounds). 

I’ve yet to perform the true computer surgery, though. I had to put it on hold so I could help put out a newspaper. 

But I’m counting down the minutes until I can find out if the surgery will be a success. Tune in same time, same place next week so you can find out, too.

Sara McManamy-Johnson is the digital content director for The Lebanon Democrat and Wilson County News. Email her at or follow her on Twitter @wilsoncoreports. 


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