7 Reasons Computer Repair Shouldn’t be a DIY Project

Computer repair CT

Computer repair. Computer technician working on a personal computer.

7 Reasons Computer Repair Shouldn’t be a DIY Project

Have you run into computer problems and are trying to troubleshoot the issue on your own? Here’s why you need the opinion of a computer repair professional.

Turning computer repair into a DIY project is tempting.

You can order the parts ranging from tower cases to high-end motherboards online. You can get just about any kind of specialty software. There are countless articles, tutorials, and videos online about fixing your computer.

It’ll be easy, right?

Well, maybe not. Consider this.

You can also find information online about replacing a car engine, wiring a house for electricity, or flying an airplane. That doesn’t make it practical, easy, or even safe for you to try any of those things.

Repairing a computer isn’t something best learned on the fly. So let’s dig into some reasons why you should leave fixing computers to the pros.

1. Professional Computer Techs Are Certified

It’s true that some people set up computer repair businesses based on nothing but hands-on experience. In general, though, most techs have either some college education or formal certifications.

The most common certification is probably the CompTIA A+ Certification. The non-profit Computer Technology Industry Association administers the certification.

It’s a vendor-neutral certification. That means it doesn’t focus on a specific company’s hardware or software. It covers a wide range of information, including:

  • operating systems
  • hard drives
  • motherboards
  • basic networks
  • security
  • troubleshooting

Some techs also get certifications from major tech companies, such as Microsoft, Apple, Cisco, and Oracle.

These certifications let you know that a tech has a certain amount of baseline knowledge.

2. Diagnosis Is Tricky

When you get down to it, computers are staggeringly complex machines. Like a human body, there are lots of parts that must work together for it to work at all. Also like a human body, diagnosing a problem with one isn’t always straightforward.

An internet search for any given computer problem will generate lots of results. The part that some people gloss over is when the answers say something like this:

“That problem is usually…”

Hedging terms like “usually” and “probably” litter the computer repair forums and articles. That happens because the people giving the answers know there are two, four, or eight other things that might cause an issue.

Take the common problem of a computer freezing. Just some of the reasons include:

  • viruses
  • overheating
  • insufficient RAM
  • software incompatibility
  • outdated drivers

You could spend a lot of time and waste money trying to fix it yourself. A pro service will figure it out faster and with less wasted money.

3. Electrostatic Discharge

Ever hear the term electrostatic discharge before? Don’t worry if you haven’t. A repair professional will know it.

Here are the basics. Ever pet your dog or cat and then get a shock from something metal? How about after you walk across a carpet?

What happens is that you pick up a positive charge that jumps to something with a negative charge, like a hard drive or motherboard. The problem is that computer components don’t react well to even small electrostatic charges.

A single spark can ruin the chips in a motherboard and leave it useless.

Repair professionals avoid this problem by using electrostatic mats or wristbands, which brings us to our next topic.

4. You Don’t Own the Right Tools

In addition to anti-static gear, computer repair pros use a number of tools not found in a standard issue toolbox. A few of these tools include:

  • 3-prong component holders
  • chip extractors
  • toner probes (for tracing live circuits)
  • spudgers (for component loosening)
  • network cable testers
  • power supply testers
  • punch down tools
  • thermal paste

They also use very small versions of some tools, including flathead, Philips head, and Torx screwdrivers. A few of the more common tools they use include multimeters, wire crimpers, heat guns, and soldering irons.

Computer pros also invest in a range of diagnostic software.

5. Irreplaceable Files

Are you part of the 20-35% of people who don’t back up their data on a regular basis?

If so, that means you probably keep files you can’t replace on your computer, such as:

  • tax records
  • pictures
  • family videos

If it’s a business computer, that list could include customer records, invoices, or sensitive information. The loss of any or all of that information could prove devastating.

Taking your computer to a professional reduces the chances that a faulty repair will destroy your data.

6. Compatibility and Power

Some computer components are plug-and-play. That means they’ll work with just about any computer you want because they’re standard. Things link flash drives, printers and keyboards usually work this way.

Once you get inside the computer, things get trickier.

Certain chips will only work with certain motherboards. Certain motherboards only fit in certain towers. Graphics cards might only work on some operating systems.

Also, every bit of hardware in the computer needs a certain amount of power. Your power supply must provide enough juice to support all those components at their max performance levels.

A good computer tech will typically know what components will work. They’ll also know when a power supply must get replaced.

7. DIY Computer Repair Can Cause Warranty Issues

Electronics companies routinely put in clauses that void a warranty if a consumer conducts repairs. While this is illegal in theory, it doesn’t stop companies from denying warranty claims.

It gets better. Many companies will void the warranty if you break a particular piece of tape on the case.

It doesn’t matter if you just peeked inside but didn’t change anything. That warranty is dead. If you think you’ll ever need that warranty, it’s a strong reason for avoiding those DIY fixes.

Parting Thoughts

As tempting or easy as online sources make it sound, there are good reasons not to make computer repair a DIY project.

You probably don’t know as much about computers as a certified pro. Most computer problems can stem from several, unrelated issues that you’ll struggle to diagnose. You risk damaging the hardware with unintentional electric shocks.

Most people don’t own the specialized tools repair pros use. You can destroy irreplaceable files. You can waste money on incompatible parts.

DIY repairs can void any warranty on the computer.

GT Computing specializes in computer repairs and custom built systems. For more information, contact us today.

6 Qualities to Look for in a Computer Repair Service

Computer repair Woodbridge CTWhen it comes to deciding who you choose to do a computer repair, it’s a hard decision to make. You want to find someone you can trust and who won’t charge astronomic fees.

Entrusting your computer to a reliable firm is, therefore, one of the most important aspects to consider when your PC has stopped working.

So how do you distinguish between a trustworthy PC repair service and one that’s not worth your time and money?

Proper research is the key. The more time you spend comparing service providers, the higher your chances to find a reliable one.

Why Is a Good Computer Repair Service So Important?

When it comes to getting their computer repaired, most people very rarely back up their files. Statistics show that only 39 percent of Americans take this step.

That’s a worrying statistic considering that if your computer breaks down and you need to repair it, you’ll risk losing all of your pictures, memories, and files.

For this reason, it’s essential to prepare and have a backup. It’s even more important to make sure you’re taking your PC to a repair shop that will protect your data and recover it successfully.

It’s not unusual for people to pay as much as $500 for specialized data recovery options to get back the files on damaged hard drives.

The question is: what should you look for when searching for a high-quality computer repair service? Here are some tips to help you out!

1. High Ratings and Reviews

If you can get a recommendation from somebody you know, that’s the best place to start. Often, people will be able to give you a realistic view of the best computer repair services based on their own experiences.

Also, go online and search for ratings and reviews. Make sure to check out places that are often overlooked, such as Google and Facebook pages as well as other review boards like Yelp.

Read the feedback left by other customers. See if their expectations have been met. Sometimes, a repair center will charge customers $300, but they will still give a five-star rating for what should have been a $75 job.

If they’re unaware of what prices to expect, the reviews can give you a clear picture. Always make sure to dig into the comments, and if in doubt, do a little recon in a local shop.

2. Pay a Reasonable Price

Computer repair costs between $60 and $80 on average. It depends on the type of repair as well as on the computer’s age, brand, and tech specs.

It’s worth remembering that many PC firms can charge by the hour. The expected fees may not include the cost of hardware or parts.

For example, you may expect to pay for a diagnosis and a fresh install of an operating system around $75. However, if you need to have a new hard drive fitted as well, your costs may well nearly double.

3. Make Sure They Guarantee the Work

Any reputable computer repair center should provide a guarantee for their work. If you have new hardware, you will get a manufacturer’s standard guarantee for the parts, but not for the labor of fitting.

A computer firm may give you a guarantee for the work they have performed from anywhere between 28 days and 90 days or sometimes even more. Always check what the guarantees cover, with software being a particularly tricky thing to question.

Some firms may refuse a repair under guarantee if they believe you caused the damage through an unrelated issue, such as a virus.

4. Check If There Is a Minimum Charge and a Cost Limit

Any work requiring a specialized engineer to look at a piece of equipment will cost extra. What you want to avoid is an engineer who charges you $90 per hour and takes nine hours to fix your problem.

Always check what the minimum cost is and what’s included in that cost. Some firms will give a hardware diagnostics, for example. Ask beforehand if there are any extra fees you should be aware of.

You should also ask about setting a cost limit.

This is when you agree on a maximum price based on what the engineers expect the fault to be. If the repairs exceed that cost, they will need to consult you first, and then you can make an informed decision on what to do.

5. Ask Upfront If There Are Any Hidden Costs

As with any repair services, there will always be those hidden costs that you don’t anticipate. Make sure you have a good idea of what the costs associated may be.

A reliable firm will tell you all the pricing upfront.

It’s also worth checking what fees they charge if they cannot resolve the problem or if it’s uneconomical to repair. In some cases, the repair would cost more than buying a new computer.

Hidden costs can include separate costs for data backup as well as installation costs for fitting parts.

6. Find a Repair Service Company That Talks in Plain English

When it comes to technical repairs, there is a lot of jargon and mumbo-jumbo that the average John Doe won’t understand.

When experts start talking about malware, CMS, or a damaged SATA cable, most people will have no idea what’s happening.

Find a repair center that will tell you in plain English exactly what’s gone wrong, how they are going to fix it, and what the expected costs can be. This is one of the most important things to look for in a computer repair service.

Make a Smart Decision

Now you know exactly what to look for when getting your computer repaired. You also have peace of mind knowing that you’ll be paying a fair price for a fantastic service.

Ready to choose a repair center you can trust? If you need help with a computer issue, reach out to us today!

The 8 Greatest Benefits of a Custom Built PC

Everyone has their own computer needs which is why a custom built PC can be such a good option. Check out the greatest benefits of these PCs, here.

Wondering if a custom built PC is worth it?

If you’ve never experienced what a custom built PC can do, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. You need a computer anyway. Why not spring for a custom option that can do everything?

In this guide, we’ll show you the top benefits of a custom built PC, so you can make an informed choice. Keep reading to learn more!

What’s a Custom Built PC?

Wondering what it means to say “custom built PC”?

With a custom PC, you literally build your own computer – or buy one that was custom-built to your specifications.

What makes these PCs different from the computers you buy in the store? Nothing – or everything.

Every computer needs the right pieces in order to function, whether you buy it or build it. Hard drives and processors some of the more fundamental, yet essential, components.

The parts used in a computer determine what it’s capable of. If you build a custom computer using the same basic parts as a store-bought computer, you won’t see a big difference.

However, a custom built PC allows you to select the exact parts you want. If you want to, you can build a custom PC like nothing else on the market.

Now, let’s take a closer look at the benefits of custom-building your PC.

1. Choose Your Own Motherboard

The motherboard makes the biggest difference in terms of functionality. Choosing your own motherboard specifications opens up a world of possibilities.

When you buy a standard PC, you get whatever motherboard comes with it. To get support down the road, you have to go back to the vendor where you bought the computer.

However, when you choose your own, it’s easier to make changes later. After all, you already know what you’re working with. You can easily make upgrades using compatible parts, for example, giving you way more control over the final product.

2. Better Cooling System

The more you add on to your PC, the more heat it generates. You’ll need a more advanced cooling system to keep your computer running. A basic cooling system may fail under the weight of heat-generating modifications.

However, a custom built PC lets you change the internal layout of the computer for optimal airflow, keeping things naturally cooler. You can also boost the cooling system using extra fans or liquid cooling.

3. Higher Quality Parts

When you hand-select every part of your PC, you can guarantee their quality.

With manufactured computers, you get what you get. Many manufacturers will cut corners by using as many low-quality parts as they can get away with. Build your own PC, and you get to make the quality determination instead.

4. Upgrade With Ease

Time to upgrade the system? With a store-bought computer, upgrades can be difficult and expensive. When you build it yourself, you know exactly what parts you’re working with. You can easily change them for better compatible parts later on.

Building it yourself also means you already have knowledge of where everything goes and how to install them. You won’t need help with an upgrade. Even better – there’s no warranty you can void when you upgrade a PC you built.

5. Add Custom Features

Perhaps the best part of a custom built PC is, well, the customization.

Everyone wants to use their computer for slightly different purposes. With customization, you can align your computer’s function with how you intend to use it.

If you’re a programmer, you’ll want a custom computer with different capabilities than if you’re a gamer. Of course, if you do both, you can build a PC for that, too.

One of the most useful things to customize is the power supply. Your computer’s durability depends on how you source the power.

When you customize your PC, you’ll want a power source that can support it. Trying to change the power source of a PC bought in a store is much more difficult.

6. Save Money

It may sound surprising, but you can actually save money by building your own PC.

Of course, you can spend as much as you’d like, depending on what parts you choose. But you also can find many ways to save money and build your PC for less than what you’d pay in a store.

If you buy a standard PC and modify it, you can easily spend too much to get the capabilities you want. A custom PC allows you to get the specific capabilities you need at the lowest cost possible.

Of course, this only makes sense if you need a computer to have certain capabilities. If you only need a computer that works for email, word processing, and browsing the internet, you’ll be fine with a standard PC.

7. Better Warranties

Sure, the computer you build yourself won’t have its own warranty. However, most of the parts you’ll use to build your custom PC will have individual warranties, a better deal in the long run.

A standard computer warranty lasts for a year or two. It’s voided if you drop the computer, spill something on it, or modify it.

However, parts warranties typically last for two or three years, allowing you to replace or repair each individual part as needed.

8. New Knowledge

Building a PC allows you to gain some awesome knowledge. You’ll also be able to take pride in telling people that you built a computer yourself.

Ready to Try a Custom Built PC?

Of course, building your own computer isn’t for everyone. Sometimes, you want custom capabilities, but don’t have the time to build it yourself.

We can help – check out information about our custom PCs here.

Adobe releases Creative Suite 2 for free

Got an older computer and want to do some photo editing but lack the right software? You may be in luck, as Adobe has released the full version of Creative Suite 2 – including Photoshop CS2, InDesign 2 and other software – for free!

While Adobe is releasing the software package for free, newer computers may have trouble running it because of a lack of updates (the current, updated version of the software is Creative Suite 6). The only requirement to download the software is a free Adobe account. Besides the suite itself, individual copies of the bundled software can be downloaded as well.

The software is available in both Windows and Mac versions.

Adobe CS2 was originally released in April 2005 and is no longer supported by the company. On Dec. 13, the company disabled the activation servers for CS2 products and Acrobat 7 signifying the end of the suite’s support life.

Source: Adobe | Image via Adobe

375 Free eBooks: Download to Kindle, iPad/iPhone & Nook

This collection features free e-books, mostly classics, that you can read on your iPad/iPhone (purchase), Kindle (purchase), Nook (purchase) or other devices. It includes great works of fiction, non-fiction and poetry. To learn how to load books to your Kindle using the links below, please watch this video. This other video explains how to upload epub files to a Nook.

Learn how to load ebook (.mobi) files to your Kindle with this video:

Learn how to load ebook epub files to your Nook with this video:

Assorted Texts

  • Assortment of Classic Books for Kids – Read Online
  • 65 Modern Art Books by the Guggenheim – Read Online
  • Baldwin, Frederick – Dear Monsieur Picasso – PDF
  • Boon, Marcus – In Praise of Copying – PDF
  • Chomsky, Noam and Edward Herman – Counter-Revolutionary Violence: Bloodbaths in Fact and Propaganda – Read Online
  • Chomsky, Noam – Deterring Democracy – Read Online
  • Chomsky, Noam – Rethinking Camelot: JFK, the Vietnam War, and U.S. Political Culture, Boston: South End Press, 1993. – Read Online
  • Chomsky, Noam – Year 501: The Conquest Continues – Read Online
  • Chomsky, Noam – Secrets, Lies and Democracy – Read Online
  • Brand, Stewart – The Whole Earth Catalog – Read Online
  • Doctorow, Cory – I, Robot – Kindle + Other Formats
  • Doctorow, Cory – With a Little Help – Kindle + Other Formats
  • Kamenetz, Anya – The Edupunks’ Guide to a DIY Credential – Kindle + Other Formats
  • Lessig, Lawrence – The Future of Ideas – PDF
  • Lethem, Jonathan – The Empty Room – Read Online
  • Rucker, Rudy – The Ware Tetralogy – D0wnload
  • Scroggy, David – The Blade Runner Sketchbook: The Art of Syd Mead and Ridley Scott – Read Online
  • The Beatles – Yellow Submarine – iPad

Apple announces presumed iPhone 5 launch event for September 12th

Apple announces presumed iPhone 5 launch event for September 12th

Apple has just invited members of the press to attend a San Francisco-based product launch event on September 12th, where the next generation iPhone is expected to be officially unveiled. As rumored, it seems as if the company’s prior iPod-focused fall events may be split off into two. It’s been reported that an October event may follow this one, with a miniaturized 7-inch iPad on the docket for that. This event, however, seems a lock for the iPhone 5 — or “new iPhone,” or whatever it ends up being coined — and while CEO Tim Cook confessed at D10 that it would be doubling down on secrecy, leakers seem to have doubled down on tipping the world off on what’s to come. The keynote kicks off at 10AM PT in SF, and you can bet we’ll be there covering every second of it live. Didn’t have any “lunch” plans for 9/12? Looks like you do now.

Google acquires Sparrow, the Apple centric email app maker

Sparrow, maker of popular email apps for iOS and Mac OS X, has just announced that it’s been acquired by Google. Expectedly, details on the acquisition are being kept under wraps at the moment, but company CEO Dom Leca has confirmed in a blog post that Sparrow will be joining the Gmail team at Google to “accomplish a bigger vision.” Fans of the company’s apps will be glad to know, however, that the team will “continue to make Sparrow available and provide support for our users” while also working on new things at Google. That does sound like most of their attention will be focused elsewhere, though. You can find Leca’s full statement on the matter at the source link below.

McAfee says PC malware level is highest in four years

If you have a desktop or laptop, you might want to be aware that the number of malware threats that could invade your PC is the highest it has been in some time. That’s the conclusion of security software company McAfee. In their latest “threat report” for the first quarter of 2012, McAfee (owned by Intel) claims that numbers of malware threats reached its highest level in the past four years.

The press release quotes Vincent Weafer, senior vice president of McAfee Labs, as saying:

In the first quarter of 2012, we have already detected 8 million new malware samples, showing that malware authors are continuing their unrelenting development of new malware. The same skills and techniques that were sharpened on the PC platform are increasingly being extended to other platforms, such as mobile and Mac; and as more homes and businesses use these platforms the attacks will spread, which is why all users, no matter their platforms, should take security and online safety precautions.

The total amount of malware samples could reach 100 million before the end of 2012, according to McAfee. In addition to a rise in PC malware, the company has also seen a rise of malware made for Mac computers in the first quarter.

The same report claimed that mobile malware was also on the rise, although that was due in part to McAfee’s increased ability to find new mobile threats. Botnet activity increased in the first quarter, with the company claiming that over 5 million PCs have been infected. On the other hand, email spam activity did drop slightly in the first quarter, but that’s a relative number. McAfee says that there was slightly more than 1 trillion spam messages emailed on a monthly basis.

Add 1GB of storage to your Dropbox permanently

Dropbox is always coming up with ways to give its users more space on its cloud storage service. Today, the company is launching its annual Dropquest event. As Dropbox’s blog states: “Dropquest is a multi-step scavenger hunt that has you solve a series of puzzles (inspired by the likes of MIT’s Mystery Hunt or Notpron [though not nearly as time/effort-consuming]).”

The Dropquest event starts at this link, although before you start you might want to download the company’s PC desktop client, because a number of the puzzles take place within a user’s own Dropbox account.

The nice thing is that everyone who enters and completes Dropquest 2012 will be able to get an extra 1 GB of space on their Dropbox account. The person who completes all the puzzles first will get 100 GB of free storage space for life, along with some other nice Dropbox swag.  10 second place finishers will get 20 GB of free space for life, 15 third place finishers will get 5 GB for life and 50 fourth place finishers will get an extra 2 GB of space.

One more thing: Dropbox claims that this year’s Dropquest will be hard, saying, “Last year Dropquest was finished in a little under 2 hours, but the Black-ops team doubts that it’ll be solved in under 5 hours this year — feel free to prove us wrong.”

Chapter 1: 64529 38645 46637 24929 <- try one of these
Chapter 2: https://www.dropbox.com/dropquest2012/crane
Chapter 3: SMUDGES
Chapter 4: SOMA
Chapter 5: MAD LIB

Chapter 6:
https://www.dropbox.com/events?ns=false&n=0&d=1-7-2003
https://www.dropbox.com/events?ns=false&n=0&d=3-21-2005
https://www.dropbox.com/events?ns=false&n=0&d=11-28-2001

Chapter 7:
https://www.dropbox.com/dropquest2012/LEADING or
https://www.dropbox.com/dropquest2012/DEALING or
https://www.dropbox.com/dropquest2012/aligned

Chapter 8: triumphant
Chapter 9: Go https://www.dropbox.com/tour/6 and invite the given email address
Chapter 10: Mexico, Korea or Argentina
Chapter 11: Southpole
Chapter 12: Restore Chapter12.txt to its previous version (on the dropbox website)
Chapter 13: Go to https://www.dropbox.com/help, and click on the shield of “Security and Privacy”
Chapter 14: Click http://www.surfpoeten.de/sudok… and find out the square that’s referring to your highlighted square. Then solve the puzzle by placing the numbers as they are shown exactly on your highlighted square
Chapter 15: Share a folder with savior@dropbox.com, flash@dropbox.com, or boxer@dropbox.com
Chapter 16: Go to https://www.dropbox.com/share and click on the rainbox icon on the top middle of the page
Chapter 17: Shanghai
Chapter 18 – Do a repair on the Dropquest Folder (bottom left corner of chapter page)
Chapter 19: On the actual dropbox site, move the pictures in the ‘spring cleaning’ folder into the category folders:

Category 1: 1 3 6 8 9
Category 2: 2 4 5 7 10

Chapter 20 solution: https://www.dropbox.com/dropquest2012/apollo13

Chapter 21: ABUSIVELY

Chapter 22: Adage, Faced, Nasha, Badge

Chapter 23: MACHU PICCHU

Endgame: colosseum

Google Drive rumored to launch 4/24

Sometimes we get lucky, and today is one of those days. I got a draft release from a partner of Google’s upcoming Google Drive service and it gives away a wealth of information about how Google plans to take on the incumbent Dropbox. The short story? 5 GB of storage, and it launches next week, likely on Tuesday at http://drive.google.com

Now let’s talk details. It’s no surprise that it will roll out for free. What’s interesting though is that Google is planning to start everyone with 5 GB of storage. Of course you can buy more, but that trumps Dropbox’s 2 GB that is included with every account. Dropbox does make it easy to get more space, including 23 GB of potential upgrades for HTC users.

What’s also interesting is the wording related to how the system will work. It’s been long-thought that Windows integration will come easy, but that getting the Google Drive icon into the Mac a la Dropbox would be a bit harder. From what we’re reading, Google Drive will work “in desktop folders” on both Mac and Windows machines, which still leaves the operation question unanswered.

GD1 520x355 Google Drive detailed: 5 GB for free, launching next week for Mac, Windows, Android and iOS

But there is one very solid piece of news – Google Drive is expected to launch in the middle of next week. Given how big companies such as Apple, Google and the rest operate, I’m placing my bets on Tuesday, but Wednesday is also a popular day for Google updates. In fact, TechCrunch seems to have gotten their hands onto the app itself.

Now as for the reliability of the information? It’s not at all uncommon for big companies to launch with partners for new features. When that happens, the partners will often-times have a heads up to integration and specifics, and that’s exactly what appears to have happened here as it did with the Lucidchart leak from last week. We’ll have to wait and see exactly how it all works out, but let’s just say that our earlier prediction of in-app document editing is pretty solid as well, given the nature of the release that was sent to us today.

With Google’s current purchased pricing structure:

  • 20 GB – $5/yr
  • 80 GB – $20/yr
  • 200 GB – $50/yr
  • 400 GB – $100/yr
  • 1 TB – $256/yr
  • 2 TB – $512/yr
  • 4 TB – $1024/yr
  • 8 TB – $2048/yr
  • 16 TB – $4096/yr

This will certainly put a hurt on competitors, like Dropbox, who charge $10/month for 50GB a year. Google’s equivalent to that price would be the 400GB level.

Update: A site has received a working copy of the Mac OS client for Google Drive. While the client runs and is definitely is a Google product, it does not connect to his account because it is not activated for the service. This probably means a beta rollout.