How can you cut the cost of hardware from £200 to £30? And how to avoid unnecessary money and time waste? You need somebody who thinks out of the box, is determined and the most important – has tons of experience. Below you can see how I was gaining experience and how it helped me to be where I am right now.

I always considered myself as the guy who’s got practical knowledge. When I was setting up my first PC (in times of Windows 98) I learnt by myself how to partition and set up Windows. Well, it was journey full of obstacles, as the words “partition” or “volume” were absolutely new to me. In other words: I didn’t know what they really meant, I just knew I needed them to install OS.

These were the dark times without the internet so everything I was doing was done by method called “let’s see what will happen if I select this”. Very often this method was followed by “well, I need to start over, again”. Obviously, after many attempts I managed to set up the OS and realised I couldn’t play my favourites games (I was 10 or even younger that time) because screen resolution and colours were horrible. Later on, I learnt that there is another piece of software, apart from OS, that you need to make your computer fully operative – drivers.

Anyway, that gave me a lot of practice. And practice is when something is working, but you don’t know why. This is fine, until something breaks down.

The birth of an amateur

In other words, I became self-learnt-computer-amateur. I was proud and I think I still should be, as nowadays kids are proud of themselves when they manage to install a game on their parents’ mobile phone. Excuse me, I was able to set up the computer and install games apart from that.

I stayed an amateur for the next few years. Pretty quickly I managed to earn some money in my town as the word did spread quickly. I became a local computer-master. A guy who can do it quicker and better than a local repair centre. I really valued my customers, so as a result I always customised and optimised their computers to their actual needs.

I could stop there. There was money flow, there were new customers, and new devices were introduced on the market like GPS or smartphones. Yet, it started to be boring: lack of new challenges, lack of new technologies and ideas. I wanted to do and know more.

When I was 19, I made a decision to take up NVQ classes in Computer Science. I wanted to learn something new and become qualified. Being town’s nerdest guy wasn’t enough. I attended classes and learnt a lot of theory the basics of computer networks. Yes, computer network is what I was after since that time. I graduated and was the only one (out of the whole group) who passed the exams successfully.

I was 21 when this happened with NVQ Level 3 certificate. It still wasn’t enough for me – the town would neither never change, nor give me the new opportunities.

All in all, I made another decision – I needed to leave my home town. I needed the city with hundreds of thousands people and companies who will throw challenges into my face. Therefore I went straight to London, where I was surrounded by newest technology and enterprises.

That was on 7th of July 2010. An exact month before my 22nd birthday.

The real challenge has come

London. Big city, with many people and companies. As well with many other guys like me. Here you can be easily replaced. Competition is huge. Therefore you must be conversant with areas of your expertise, plus you must learn quickly. With IT you need to have a lot of experience or much more time and patience to do something properly. The problem is – companies quite often don’t have much time and will be not happy to pay for your wasted time. Imagine a situation when I had a lot of experience solely with computers, but not groups of, e.g. 30, which must be configured simultaneously.

Computer network was the obvious answer – but how actually does it work? You need a server which controls clients. Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8 – they are all clients. Once again, I had to challenge myself and learn how to actually configure Windows Server. And I did, first of all by setting up virtual labs, following books, online tutorials. And believe me: you cannot predict what will happen in real world, event if you read 10 books. Again, the experience comes up and if you don’t have it, then you are going to have a tough time.

I could give you lots of examples of why experience is important, but I believe there is no need to do it.

The reason why I wrote about experience

I was inspired to write this post because of my most recent experience. One of my customers bought a workstation to work with a design application, e.g. AutoCAD. It was jamming all the time when they tried to work on more sophisticated models. A brand new machine couldn’t handle simple daily tasks. It’s worth to mention that it was entry-level workstation for professional purposes.

I spent hours on the internet to look for an answer, and the answer was only one – a graphic card was way too weak to handle this, and bear in mind professional graphics are a few times more expensive than ordinary ones. I couldn’t believe this. I called my “IT guru”, a guy who has much more experience than me, and described the situation. His question was very simple – did you optimise Windows?

So I did optimise – the BIOS, drivers and operating system itself, spent time to check the results, and my jaw dropped when I saw a totally different performance!

The use of computer resources decreased by 50-75%, and the workstation could handle all the tasks easily. Just like that. The company saved a few hundred pounds on the computer parts.

It’s unbelievable how experience can lead to simple solutions, saving time, effort and money. I will still try to gain new knowledge, because the more I learn, the more I like to learn.