Let me just get this out there as quickly as I can. I don’t like change very much. Never have and probably never will. This may come as a shock since my background includes working for 15 years in the information technology industry and change on a weekly or monthly basis was a given.

Being a virtual assistant, change is common because there are always new programs to learn and upgrades to be done. But I suffer from upgradeaphoebia and seriously, it’s a wonder I ever upgrade anything. Sometimes I have to upgrade in order to accommodate something I need or want and in these cases I don’t really mind. But other times, when I am forced to upgrade for the sake of it or because it’s pushed upon me (Windows Vista anyone?), then the horns start growing, the vein pops out, and my teeth start gnashing. Ok, I guess I am not that bad, but pretty close.

How did I get this bad? I used to be a superstar during my first job as a word processor back in the late 80’s. Using a 286 with MS-DOS, I used to create custom menus in my autoexec.bat file, I learned all the cool tips for ‘Q&A’ and ‘WordPerfect’, and I was the only word processor who downloaded soft fonts to my printer so that my letters beamed with the professionalism of Times Roman while others still used Courier fonts. I was so high speed!

Years later and working as an IT specialist, I couldn’t begin to count the number of upgrades, rollouts, repairs, or patches I’ve done. Technology is exponential; everything from hardware, software, and tech gadgets has a short life because not only do we want the latest and greatest, but one has to keep up or else you are left with an obsolete [insert name here].

This is especially tough for those of us who work online because we are our own IT department. We have to learn it, use it, support it, and troubleshoot it. Just when I would feel comfortable with a particular piece of hardware or software, I would get the upgrade notice. Argh!

I have learned over the years that it doesn’t have to be painful. Follow these tips to make sure your next upgrade is as pain-free as possible:

  1. Do some research. Do not wait until you’ve already upgraded your operating system to find out it is not compatible with your favorite web editing program. Go the manufacturer’s website to check the compatibility list. If there is none listed, contact the manufacturer directly to see if compatible drivers will be available. This also goes for switching web hosts; if you use Frontpage extensions, make sure the new web host supports it as many nowadays do not.
  2. Backup. Do not, and I repeat, do not upgrade without first copying anything of value to another storage device. In theory, upgrading software or operating systems are supposed to leave data alone and just upgrade the system files that run the software. But I have witnessed many times where something went wrong and a complete reformat was necessary. There goes all your family vacation pictures! Don’t let this happen to you.
  3. Document. Before and after you have upgraded, write down all serial numbers, PIN codes, passwords, license numbers, anything associated with a particular piece of software or hardware, and keep them in a place other than your computer. You may need this information when talking to a customer service rep. It doesn’t do any good to save everything in an Access database or Outlook when you’re on the phone with customer service and you can’t open your files. Well, unless you have nothing else to do and can chat with a tech support rep for a few hours while your account gets straightened out. I speak from experience.

Now that I’m older and wiser, I am trying to overcome my upgradeaphobia. I know that I am improving because now when I upgrade, I find it hard to go back to the old versions. I liken it to continuing to use a word that has gone out of style. And when I do commit that faux pas, my kids laugh and call me a “newb.”  You don’t want to be known as the “newb” in your family do you?

Maybe the word “upgrade” isn’t such a bad word after all!

Do you have any upgrade horror stories?  Leave a comment and tell me about them!