Imagine getting a computer virus attack while you’re working on a tight deadline. Your laptop screen goes black right before your eyes. In a split second, everything you have worked on for the last two weeks is all gone.
A virus attack on a personal computer is a nightmare for anyone, from the CEO with sensitive files in his or her laptop to the independent professionals and freelancers who depend on their computers to make money. There are direct and indirect costs that you will have to bear when a virus strikes your laptop.
Let’s see how they add up.
For many of us who know nada about the inner workings of a computer, the easiest way to restore things would be to call an expert. But expert help can be costly.
First off, getting a computer technician to check your laptop and find out the problem already costs money. Some repair shops may give you a free assessment, but others charge a minimum of $35 for a diagnostic charge.
Further, once the technician knows what the problem is, the repair is often charged by the hour, with rates usually from $50 to $70. If it takes your repairman six hours to get everything in order, that translates to at least $300—and that’s only the technician’s fees.
Rates are cheaper if you’re able to bring your infected laptop to the computer shop, but getting a technician come over on site can run up your tab by an additional $10 an hour. Some technicians also charge an additional call-out or travel fee, anywhere from $35 to $60, depending on how far away your location is from your computer repair store. Getting remote assistance is even more expensive, with some computer shops charging at least $70 per hour for accessing your laptop remotely and fixing it from there.
Cost: Anywhere from $100 for a quick fix, to more than $300 for total repair.
Tip: Installing a paid antivirus program in your computer may cost you anywhere from $40 a year to a one-time charge of $90, but this expense will surely you save a lot of money that you may need to fix an already infected laptop, as well as spare you the added stress.
If your technician is able to restore everything without the need for a new operating system or new parts, good for you. In a worst-case scenario, you’ll have to shell out more than $80 for a new operating system; around $139.99 to as much as $399.99 for a Microsoft Office package with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote (or free—if you prefer open-source applications); as well a new virus program to protect you against future virus infections.
McAfee’s Total Protection virus program starts at $89.99, and its Advanced Troubleshooting program can cost as much as $129.95, while basic virus protection at Norton costs $39.99 a year for one computer.
For scenarios 1 and 2, you may need emergency cash to tide you over to the next payday. In case you need a loan now, you can check the tips here for loan options. Your goal is to fix your computer asap; paying for an extra interest may be worth it than waiting for the next payday to get rid of the virus.
Cost: Anywhere from $260 for all basic applications to as much as $560 for top-of-the-line programs.
Tip: Be mindful of the sites you visit and the files you download. Likewise, considering how expensive it can get to purchase and install office applications all over again when your laptop gets infected with a virus, it really does make sense to get an antivirus program to begin with or be a little more alert when downloading programs or files to your computer. If you’re not yet ready to purchase an antivirus full version, you can download a freeware or trial version. The sooner you got your antivirus running the safer for your laptop.
Or help you get things done while you wait for the repair to complete. If you’re working on a tight deadline and need a backup computer, you can choose to rent one, but it won’t come cheap. According to a Wall Street Journal article, computer rental can go from $149 to as much as $165 for three days’ use.
Cost: About $200 for a week’s use—which would probably be the same length of time it would take to get your virus-infected laptop repaired.
Tip: Even if your network is secure you can’t guarantee what your co-workers are downloading. Secure your laptop by installing a virus program or by running a regular virus check on your to ensure that your laptop is in tiptop shape.
More than the cost of repair, installation of operating systems and programs, or laptop rental, being the victim of a virus attack also has its indirect costs:
If you’re unfortunate enough to see a virus attack through, you probably know the feeling of having lost gigabytes of data in your computer and knowing you’ll never get them all back: that “Great American Novel” you’ve been working on for years, photos from last year’s skiing trip (especially some of the ones that weren’t wholesome enough to be uploaded on Facebook), and yes, even your ongoing project that you’ve been working on for several weeks now, which you unfortunately forgot to back up somewhere—all gone in a blink. If you’re able to save some of your important files, well and good, but when it comes to virus attacks, be prepared for the worst.
Tip: Save your files in the cloud. Google Drive is free and recommended especially for text and spread sheet files. The cloud allows you to retrieve your files anywhere and even when your laptop is down. If you have image or video files, an external hard disk may be appropriate. Make sure to run a virus check every time you transfer files from the hard disk to your laptop. Likewise, imagine how a small thing like running a monthly virus check on your laptop can spare you from the nightmare of losing all your files and having to start from scratch all over again.
When a virus strikes your PC, naturally, your top priority would be to get it fixed, so all other things in your professional life will have to be on a standstill. But what if you’re dealing with a demanding client who requires that you’re online nine hours a day or be on call any time in a week? It can mean a missed opportunity for a new project, or worse, losing a client altogether.
Not many people see the importance of getting their laptops protected from viruses until something huge—like losing a client because you weren’t able to save a virus-infected file—happens. Regret shouldn’t happen in the end, so have the foresight to prepare yourself (and your computer) for possible virus attacks. Get an antivirus program and do a regular check to keep your laptop virus-free.
Tip: Consider buying a backup computer or laptop if you’re dealing with big projects. The cost of another laptop is peanuts compared to losing an all-important client.
For an independent professional whose sole resource in making money is a laptop, getting a virus attack can be a very stressful experience. Everything else will have to be forgotten, as computer repair will have to take main priority.
You’re in a panic because your project is due any day now, and you can’t buy enough time to complete it. What to do when you don’t have a spare computer or extra cash to pay a technician? What if you don’t have the money to pay for the new programs and operating system that you’ll need to restore your laptop to what it once was? What if you can’t afford to rent a laptop while waiting for your computer to be repaired? All these can add up to a lot of stress, which can stand in the way of decision making.
Tip: Enable the alert setting on your OS when installing, downloading or opening a document from the Internet. This keeps you from accidentally opening an infected file.
Nobody wishes to fall prey to a virus attack. That’s why many of us have the foresight to buy top-of-the-line virus programs to protect our computers, make it a regular habit to backup our files, and go the extra mile of investing in an extra laptop or desktop PC for emergencies. Often, the extra measures we take to ensure we’re protected from a virus attack are much cheaper than the costs we’ll have to bear to fix an infected laptop.
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