Sara's Column: The adventure continues

I know it’s been killing you waiting all week to find out whether the dead computer truly is dead or whether I was actually able to revive it.
Aug 1, 2014

And now for the rest of the story.

I know it’s been killing you waiting all week to find out whether the dead computer truly is dead or whether I was actually able to revive it.

For anyone reading this and saying, “What in the world is she talking about??” here’s a brief recap: Recently, my trusty home desktop computer failed to start for me one day. I tried pushing the power button repeatedly to no avail, so I checked all the connections and the outlet and finally decided the power supply must have died.

So I mustered my courage and opened up the case to remove the troublesome PSU. As I’m at least passingly acquainted with the inner workings of a desktop PC, it wasn’t outside the realm of possibility that I could actually do the repairs myself. I was just slightly nervous since I’d never jockeyed with anything quite as critical as a PSU (I don’t count that time editing my old boss’s Windows Registry to do a minor software repair – but I digress.)

Anyway, I pulled out the power supply and took it to the repair shop, where the pro confirmed that the PSU actually was fried. I subsequently walked out the proud owner of a brand-new power supply.

And then the fun really started.

After I finished helping to put out a newspaper that day, I practically ran home and straight to my computer. 

I pulled out my shiny new PSU and my dusty old one and inspected them side-by-side. Just wanted to make sure I had all the requisite plugs and cables and such. They were all there.

I then spent about the next 10-15 minutes playing my own version of “Where’s Waldo?” trying to find all the ports I would need to connect to inside the computer and match them with the appropriate plugs.

I only had to reference my pre-PSU-extraction cellphone pics one time to figure out which way to plug in a SATA cable in a particularly not-well-lit plug.

Finally, I started plugging everything in. 

That actually sounds a lot easier than it really is. Here’s the thing about plugs for computer components: they’re not supposed to be messed with all that often, so manufacturers want to make sure that when something is plugged in, it stays plugged in and doesn’t get accidentally knocked loose.

Those things are a pain to plug in. You need to press firmly enough that it’s well-seated, but you also don’t want to try to force a plug in a way that it’s not supposed to go and then damage fragile connectors.

After a lot of language not fit for public consumption and about 20-30 minutes, I eventually got everything plugged in, though. 

Time to put it to the test. 

I put the case back on and plugged in the monitor, keyboard and mouse.

I pushed the power button and was immediately rewarded with the sound of a fan kick-starting.


Eh, not so fast.

A loud beep told me there was a problem with the boot-up.

I read the error message and realized the system was trying to boot from my DVD-RW drive. The system wasn’t recognizing my hard drive.

I immediately started to panic. 

Here I’d been worried that the motherboard had gotten fried along with the PSU, but now it was starting to look like the hard drive was the one to get fried.

I managed to tamp down the panic, though. I realized it was entirely possible I missed a plug somewhere or one wasn’t seated firmly enough.

So I cracked open the case again and started poking around, looking for a stray port missing a plug. 

Sure enough, a black SATA port was hidden in the darkened recesses of the tower. After more jockeying and language not fit for public consumption, I managed to plug in what I’d originally thought was a spare SATA plug.

That done, I put the case back on and again plugged in the monitor, keyboard and mouse.

I pushed the power button and crossed my fingers.

Again, the fan kick-started. I held my breath and crossed my fingers while I waited. And waited.

Finally, the Windows login screen appeared. 

I’d just successfully replaced my first power supply.

As I basked in the glow of success, I realized the only PC components I haven’t worked on now are motherboards and hard drives.

Maybe building my own computer wouldn’t be as hard as I’d imagined.

As I babied my newly revived computer (cleaned up the hard drive, downloaded and installed updates, etc.), a plot began to form…

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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