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Repairing other people's computersFebruary 24th, 2011
Another thing that happens when you tell people you’re in I.T. is repairing their computer. Most people haven’t realised that computers are disposable consumer electronics. Wasteful though this is, if your computer breaks after 5 years then throw it in a skip and buy a new one!
Half of the trouble is that most people use a computer for a bit of email and a bit of web surfing and so having spent £400 5 years ago makes them reluctant to discard it. If they bought the same computer at today’s prices they would firstly be lucky to find one and if they did the person on eBay would be practically giving it away because it has no value.
The government lets you write-off a computer against tax in just 3 years, so any business should be buying new computers for its workers every couple of years! but they don’t, they just struggle along on outdated hardware. There is an issue with training that you get to avoid if you stick with the same machines, but then who wants staff that only knows how to use out-of-date technology?
One of the problems with Computer Repair is that of acquiring the parts. If your motherboard blows up then you may find that your motherboard specification is no longer available because it has been superseded by a better version. So now you need different memory as well and sometimes if you are really lucky your old power supply plug won’t fit your new motherboard, and so now you need a new case. In almost all cases it is the motherboard that blows up because novice users don’t hoover inside their PC’s and so over time the dust builds up, with constant heating up and cooling down creates a kind of glue which eventually causes a short on the motherboard and if you’re really lucky a fire! Dust builds up over heat sinks causing their efficiency to reduce considerably which also contributes to component failure.
All those components bought separately can work out more expensive then buying a new computer because don’t forget you are not only having to buy the new parts but also paying some guy in his bedroom to look for the suitable replacements and fit them which can actually take the most time and money.
Computer repairing does have several advantages. There is a case at one of my clients where their server has blown up after a power spike. We really needed to get the data off the server and because it is a Mac we have the security that we can just swap out the power supply without having to replace everything.
One thing worth mentioning is that when you send your computer in for repair the person doing the repair will probably rifle through all your files. For some reason they don’t see it as a personal private history of you they will be nosy and curious of what you have been up to. Unlike being under anaesthetic at a hospital where you can be pretty sure the doctor and his staff won’t bum you, your computer will be handed over to literally anyone with no checks or balances and if they see anything they don’t like then they could steal it or just call the police. The only way you can prevent this is if you watch them repair it. For some reason they are less inclined to rifle through your personal files while you are watching over them.
If you are worried about sensitive material you could take the hard drive out and explain to them that they can fix a hardware problem without it. The repairer will have to put one of their own hard drives in to boot it, but if they are a proper repairer outlet they will understand and will have everything they need. They may charge you a bit extra because it will be more hassle for them and it will take a bit longer to fix your PC …but it beats egg on your face when government secrets end up with the press, your company is exposed for poor customer security or you have to go to prison!
Dont always agree though. Last week my PC stopped booting. Reloading software did not help. Finally I found out that disconnecting disk number 3 in my PC made it boot. Saved myself a new PC :-)
And ofcourse, being a engineer, I have backed up my important data so no harm done.
And I finally have a nice and clean PC again after putting an early image back on :-)
c.u. at IBC I guess.
@Sidney, that’s just it, how long did all that take?
We’d do it for our computers because that’s a bonus of being in IT. How much would someone charge to do all that? I think you could buy a new computer with a warranty for the same price!