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Repair News Articles from the Tech Industry

August 23, 2006

Top Computer Repair Tips
These everyday tips for smart computing can help you make future service trips less painful--or even avoid them.

Buy your PC with a three-year warranty: That will insure your PC for most of its useful life. If that level of protection doesn't come standard, as little as $100 can buy the additional years (see Consumer Watch for more on long-term warranties). Where possible, get this coverage from your PC's manufacturer, so you always deal with the people who built your system--it's often cheaper, too.

Back up your data: Don't wait. Your PC's single most valuable thing is the data it contains--from bank and tax records, to your MP3 collection, to your sales contacts. Keep an updated backup on CD-RW, Zip disks, or some other storage medium.

Invest in a good utilities package: Norton SystemWorks and Ontrack's Fix-It, for example, cost about $50 and include not only system diagnostic tools, but often antivirus software and backup utilities (see "Do-It-Yourself PC Diagnosis" for details).

Keep your restore CD handy: When a problem hits, your system's restore CD, which has all the PC's original software settings, is the quickest way to get up and running again--especially if recently installed software triggered the problem.

Check out tech advice sites: Candidates include AskMe.com, NoWonder.com, and Service911.com. If your PC isn't completely inoperable, entering a chat room with techs and fellow PC users or dashing off an e-mail that clearly describes the problem will often net you a fast, accurate--and usually free--fix.

Choose a shop carefully: If the worst does happen, call several shops for facts on repair procedures. Is there a diagnosis fee? If so, is it applied toward the repair cost? What is the hourly fee or flat rate for labor? Is the work guaranteed? If so, for how long? What's the expected turnaround time? Finally, check with the Better Business Bureau to identify stores with poor records.

Get the facts straight: Before you head out to the store, list your PC's symptoms, including the precise wording of error messages. Take any CD-ROMs or floppies (like the restore disk) that came with the system; the store's technician may request them.

Have open communication: At the shop, give service reps full details about the problem. Ask the rep to call for your okay before performing services that will cost more than the fee (if any) you pay at drop-off.

Check the math: When you pick up the PC, review what was done and its cost. Ask for a written report, with specifics on warranties for parts and labor.

Test the PC right away: A shoddy repair job may introduce problems, so check your PC as soon as you return to your office. Reconnect add-ons such as your printer and verify that everything works properly. Report problems immediately.

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