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Where Can I Go To Use A Computer?

where can i go to use a computer

SOS! ISO Access to a Computer?

In this digital age, it’s impossible to function without the electronic gadgets that dominate our professional and personal worlds. So, what to do if your computer is on the fritz? Or what if your laptop is stolen? Then you may find yourself in search of the nearest places to access a computer fast

Maybe your computer crashed? Or maybe your internet service is suffering an outage? For whatever reason, you have found yourself needing computer access. And what does one do if this happens?

So, where can I go to use a computer?

In this article, I will take you through some common and some not-so-common solutions that will help you complete your computer tasks.

A Complete Guide

For tasks requiring more urgent or immediate access to a computer, thankfully, there are several options available. Here’s a concise list that we’ll follow with details to know about each option:

  •  Libraries
  • Friends/family
  • Learning/education centers
  • Local colleges and universities
  • Hotels and business centers
  • Community centers
  • Commercial outlets such as FedEx, UPS, and Staples centers

A Complete Guide

Local Libraries 

Libraries are an excellent resource for those in need of immediate computer access as long as those needs occur during business hours.

Most state and public libraries have dedicated computer sections for use by their members. Libraries also offer other office services such as facsimiles, scanning/copying, and printing. These additional services can be accessed for a small fee to cover operating costs.

Got a library card?

Cardholders just need to sign up for computer use and log in at their assigned times. Computer use is usually limited (i.e., two to three hours/day) to ensure fair use by other members. For example, Arlington Public Library offers free computer access to its members. But it also offers a 90-day computer access card for those who only want to utilize the computer section. 

However, both card types impose a day usage limit of 180 minutes per day. And most libraries will offer something similar.

What are the pros and cons of using library computers?

 The benefits of using library computers include that internet service is usually strong, fast, and stable, and computer usage is usually free of charge. However, the main downside of using library computers is the library’s restricted hours of operation. 

So, if you find yourself needing a computer outside of a library’s operating hours, you may need to continue scrolling and find a more viable option.

Friends and Family

It may seem obvious, but never forget that another option for immediate/urgent use of a computer is asking your friends and family members! And the benefit of asking close friends and family members is that you’re not as limited to time constraints such as a library’s hours of operation.

This option is easy if you are a university or college student living on campus or at home. Asking a friend or sibling to borrow their computer could be as easy as walking a few steps and knocking on their door. As long as it’s not a repeated or regular thing, your friends and close family members certainly should not mind letting you use their computer in times of a crunch.

Friends and Family

And this should go without saying, but…

This “free” option comes with some pointers. Firstly, say thank you when you’re returning their computer or laptop. Be sure to bring their equipment back in good or better condition. And, if you want to ensure positive feelings on both sides, you could even buy a small thank-you gift and give it to them upon return.

This shows them that you are grateful, and if the need should arise again in the future, they will be more willing to help you. But if this is simply not an option for you, keep reading.

Learning and Education Centers

A third option for those in dire need of a computer is Learning and Education Centers. Privately owned and operated learning and education centers have become a mainstay and can be abundantly found in or near large shopping centers. 

There are even some specialized education centers that teach digital design and IT coding. And if they are open, chances are they will have computers and associated equipment available for use.

Is this free?

Unfortunately, not. This service is usually charged on an hourly basis, and one may need to leave a license or ID card as collateral. These education centers also often have other office fee-for-services available such as printing, scanning, and facsimiles. However, like libraries, one is restricted by the hours of operation of learning centers. But if your computer emergency happens during these hours, a learning center could just save your day!

Colleges and Universities

Another option that makes an excellent go-to for those in need of immediate computer access is local colleges and universities.

Don’t you need to be a registered student?

Generally, using a computer or other office services requires that one is a student and has an active student card. However, it is common for universities to grant computer access memberships to non-students. This is usually granted after registration and making a small payment for a computer access membership, which lasts for two to three months on average. 

The advantages of using a computer at colleges and universities are that there are usually multiple computer stations and longer hours of operation. They’re generally open evenings and weekends. Additional office services are also usually available for small fees, and you can expect fast and reliable internet connections and phone charging stations. 

If your university days are long behind you or you don’t live near a college/university, you can always opt for computer access at more commercially available options. Coming up…

Colleges and Universities

Hotels and Business Centers

Both hotels and business centers provide a more grown-up option for those requiring fast access to computers. The majority of extended stay-type hotels and business/conference hotels have dedicated business centers complete with computers, printers, and sometimes fax machines.

Computer usage is often included or comes with a low daily rate for hotel guests. But for non-guests, hotels and business centers often offer computer usage and printing as paid-for-services.

Hotels make an excellent option for computer access because their computers have fast, reliable internet connections, and printing is usually available for free or a small fee. However, possible disadvantages of using computers at hotels or business centers include: 

  • Unsecured/public Internet connection
  • Computers being used by others

Community Centers

An often overlooked option for immediate computer access is local community centers. Most often funded by the state, these community centers usually have a business/work center complete with computers, printers/scanners, and fax machines.

Some of these centers go a step further and offer supportive community services such as child care, fitness/recreation facilities, and occupational support and services. Computer access is usually free of charge to local residents and for those who meet specific financial requirements.

And if you’re job hunting…

Workforce Professional Center (WPC) is a state-run program that offers public use of computers for those needing internet access to look for and secure employment. WPC provides access to public computers where job seekers can launch internet sessions from the website and connect with potential employers.

Therefore, community centers make an attractive option for those with children and for those needing social assistance or wanting to get more involved in their communities. But if you don’t have a local community center and you live in a metropolitan area, commercial shopping centers may be the answer you’re looking for. 

Commercial Outlets

If you live near metropolitan areas with large outdoor shopping centers, you’ve most likely noticed shipping centers such as UPS or FedEx, or Staples office stores. And these days, commercial outlets such as these have gone far beyond functioning solely as pack-and-ship centers or office stores.

Let me explain…

It’s not always common knowledge that these centers and office stores function as rent-an-office centers, too. So, like many of the aforementioned options, you have access to office services such as scanning, faxing, and printing documents. 

UPS and FedEx offer notarization services and will notarize documents for a fee. One can also walk into any of these commercial/office centers and rent a computer station with the necessary drives and plug-ins.

Commercial Outlets

How much does it cost?

FedEx office center charges 55 cents per minute for computer use and extra fees for printing, scanning, and faxing. Plus, these workstation rental centers are typical in metropolitan areas, so you’re most likely to have more than one option.

While these commercial centers tend to be more pricey than the previous options, they come with the benefit of renting a complete workstation and more generous hours of operation. And as an added bonus, you can enjoy enhanced computer security, as desktops are cleared upon user logout. 

In summary…

These are examples of places you can go to when you are in urgent or more immediate need of a computer. And all of these options share a common benefit of having fast, strong internet connections. However, they are, for the most part, publicly accessed devices. So it is wise to avoid handling private data or financial transactions on these shared platforms. 

Moreover, the majority of these options are only available during that option’s hours of operation. So you will need to plan and act accordingly. But if you can make one of these options work for you, then the purpose of this article has been fulfilled.

However, if time is not as pressing an issue, or you know you’re going to need to access a computer regularly in the future, there are other options that allow for longer-term computer rentals. 

Long-Term Computer Access Options

For jobs needing a computer with less urgency or for a longer-term solution, there are some more sustainable options. 

The first of these is renting a computer or laptop with daily/weekly/monthly terms from commercial outlets. Rent-A-Center, Digital One, and Flex Shopper all offer this service, and your choice will depend on your needs and location. 

Starting with RAC…

Some people don’t know that in this advancing technological age we live in, desktop computers can be rented alongside a sofa set for your living room and furniture for your dining room at various Rent-A-Center (RAC) stores across the US. These computers can be rented for the short term or can be rented on a rent-to-own basis for the longer term. There is a wide range of computers available depending on your needs and budget.

Long-Term Computer Access Options

Ranging from $14.52 per week for a basic desktop station all the way up to $41.78 per week for a high-tech gaming station.

 Digital One and Flex Shopper specialize in renting computers and digital equipment on a longer-term and lease-to-own basis, where rental rates for a desktop computer range from $4 per week for a basic setup all the way up to $112 per week for higher-tier options.

But our top choice?

Meeting Tomorrow is an online rental center based out of Chicago, Illinois, that offers laptop and computer rentals on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Renting a computer requires you to have an internet connection (or can call) on your smartphone. You can call 877 794-4362 toll-free to set up the online rental agreement. 

Quotes for laptop and computer rentals can be assessed online, and rentals can be renewed online as needed. The main bonuses of this service are:

  • Same-day service available
  • Computer/laptop delivered directly to the address provided
  • Can deliver to 95% of the country
  • Equipment comes with prepaid UPS return label

At the end of your rental contract, you just need to drop the parcel off at a UPS center or arrange to pick it up on the UPS website.

Additional services of companies like Meeting Tomorrow include rental options for presentation projectors and screens, sound equipment, and digital video cameras. And this company actually delivers the equipment to you the day before your contract begins because they want you to have time to get acquainted with the equipment before your big presentation.

Talk about service!

Still, for those of you with a smartphone, did you know that you could turn your smartphone into a personal computer?

This option does require the purchase of some basic connection equipment. But it has the added bonus of increased mobility with minimal hardware. 

That’s right! Turns out that, according to Christian Cawley of Make Use Of (MUO), with the purchase of some relatively inexpensive, basic equipment computer expert, there are six different ways you can turn your smartphone into a PC.

What will I need to do this?

A sample list of the basic equipment required is a Bluetooth keyboard, mouse, and USB-OTG cable. But an added option is a Desktop User Interface (DUI), allowing you to display your phone’s screen on a large TV screen. For this, an HDMI TV display and USB-C 7–in-1 Hub are required.

This option is great for those who need computer access for giving presentations. Or for those who simply want to work from their phone but on a bigger screen. The advantages of this option are that it allows the user to work on the go and that it is relatively inexpensive. Plus, it provides a longer-term solution than the previously mentioned borrowing and rental/leasing options.

Computer Access for Low Income

For computer tasks that require long-term or ongoing access to a computer, there are several organizations within the United States that focus on increasing digital literacy. And others that provide computers and laptops to low-income, qualifying individuals.

These organizations work to provide access to laptops and computers with the main goal of increasing digital equity. A prime example of this type of organization is the National Digital Equity Center, a digital equity company operating out of Maine, USA.

This company works on increasing digital inclusion and digital literacy by offering free-of-charge computers and digital education courses. Once income requirements have been confirmed, NDEC offers Macs, PCs, tablets, phones, and IT classes based on an individual’s needs.

Computer Access for Low Income

But there’s more…

PC’s for People is another US-based company that works hard at pursuing digital equity. It is a non-profit organization that operates out of Denver, Colorado. They provide refurbished computers to eligible customers at no cost/affordable prices. They also provide low-cost, high-speed internet connection services for qualifying individuals. The vision of this company is to increase digital literacy. They do this by providing low-cost options for access to computers, training and education courses, and wifi connectivity. 

More on Low-Income Services

There is a wide array of organizations and federally-funded benefit programs available to low-income individuals and their families. So, if you fall into this bracket, why not look into your other options?

For example, did you know you can get a Free Government Landline Phone Service and Free Internet for Low-Income Families?

Or find out How to Get Wi-Fi with SNAP BenefitsFree Appliances For Low-Income Families, and even a Free Gym Membership for Low Income People. There are also options for Free Or Cheap Furniture For Low-Income FamiliesFree Gas Vouchers For Low-Income Families, and a Free Divorce Lawyer for Low-Income earners facing a costly divorce process.

Already on SNAP?

Then we can answer many questions for you, like, Does Target Take WICDoes Dollar Tree Accept EBTDoes Subway Take EBT, and Can You Use EBT on DoorDash?

Ok, back to…

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are many options for those who find themselves in need of computer access. Working time schedules and specific equipment needed will help you decide which option listed above is best suited for you.

As we continue to progress and live in this ever-evolving digital age, tech devices will remain an ongoing need for those who wish to maintain a digital presence. So, if you do utilize any of these services, be sure to leave an online review. This can help others navigate their options who find themselves in the same, or similar situations. 

The very best of luck with finding a computer that suits your needs perfectly!

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About Calvin Miller

Calvin has over 20 years of experience in a leading employment agency in Tucson, Arizona, and is passionate about finding the perfect position for everyone who uses the company’s services.

He lives with his wife, Annette, and their two sons Jake and Joseph.

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