Why Octopus staff always talk about cars

If you’ve spent any reasonable amount of time with us, you know that we like to translate the techy-nerd stuff into understandable sentences. We could wax lyrical all day about DHCP, DNS, SPF and why it’s important for security, but it wouldn’t mean a thing! Fortunately, we know it wouldn’t mean a thing too! In order to bridge that gap, we often use metaphor to help understand what’s going on “under the hood” of your computer.

The best solution we’ve found is to compare computers to cars, here are a few of our favourites!

Buying a computer is like buying a car.
If you walk into a garage and say “I want a car” you could end up with anything from a reliant robin to a McLaren P1. What’s the car (computer) for? Is it for you or the family? How many seats (users) will it need? How fast do you need it to be? Are you looking for a sports car or a family estate? What colour (yes, seriously)? Do you need a lot of boot space (disk storage)? What’s your budget? And so on. It’s a great comparison to help people think a bit more about what they’re looking for in a computer.

Why is my computer broken? Think car!
There are 2 main reasons your car stops working; 1) its broken down 2) you’ve had an accident. Sometimes, things break. We’ve come to terms with that, it’s what keeps us in business. Like with a car though, it could break for a whole host of reasons! Overheating, components broken, wrong fuel, improper use etc. Ever driven your car through a puddle which turned out to be a lake? Water damage isn’t great for cars either it turns out!
As for the accidents, it’s either caused by you or somebody else. True of computers too. Either you weren’t looking where you were going (backed into a tree / visited a dangerous website), or somebody else ran into you (difference here is that in digital terms it was probably deliberate!).
Look after your car properly, and it’ll last you a very long time. Treat it poorly and you’ll need a new one before you know it!

Why is it going so slowly?
This is normally quite a straight forward one. You’re sitting there driving the Suzuki Swift back from the shops. The boot is full to the brim, bikes are on the boot door and the roof box is stacked too. All the seats are full because you’re giving your friends a lift too and you’ve got pedal to the metal. For some reason though it’s not going as quickly as the brand-new Porsche that just overtook you. The fact is that if you chuck your friends out on the roadside, lose the luggage and roof box, ditch the bikes, and tune up the engine a bit your Suzuki could go very well indeed. It’ll never be a Porsche though…

Backing up your data is like having insurance.
If we didn’t legally need car insurance, I truly question how many people would have it. We never assume we’re going to crash or that it’ll go wrong. The same is true of backing up your data. We don’t assume that the computer will break, so we don’t take actions in case it does.

Metaphor is a great tool we use all the time to help people understand (as best we can) more about their computer. Understanding computers isn’t the dark art it used to be, and all customers deserve to know exactly what’s going on and why.
A good car salesman (they do exist, I’m sure) helps you get the care you need, not just the one you want.
A good mechanic is invaluable and every now and then things need a service to keep them going.
A good car will last you a long time if you look after it, but nothing lasts forever.