Several years ago, unbeknownst to me, I downloaded a rootkit to my home computer. It was a nasty little bugger and I soon ended up unable to access my files. Not being a techie, I hauled my desktop to the local store where I had purchased it. This particular establishment had given me a guarantee that they would fix, free of charge, any computer they sold.
I had a lot of important things to get done, so I was hoping for a quick in-and-out experience. Imagine my incredulity when they told me it would be at least 72 hours before they could examine my computer. I told them that was unacceptable and, in the most woebegone example of customer service imaginable, they replied, “Or you can pay $80 for our emergency service and we will look at it today.”
Obviously, for legal reasons, I don’t want to identify the company, but these “Geek Squad” guys clearly hadn’t ever heard about the customer being king. I told them what I thought of their business practices, threatened to tell everyone I knew about my bad experience, took my computer and left. Fortunately, I found a mom-and-pop shop that does repairs of the sort I was looking for. The team their fixed my problem that same day for just $30.
I mention this because, in the years since, I’ve spent a fair share of money for computer repairs that quite frankly looked simple enough that even I could do them. It was probably the $60 I paid to replace a screw on a cooling fan that pushed me over the edge, but dang it, I figured it was time I took matters into my own hands and learned to fix simple computer problems.
Having recently tinkered somewhat successfully with our home computers, I’ve come up with three good reasons why Average Joes such as myself can and should do some of our own computer repairs:
It saves you money: Just last week I added an additional memory card to my computer, and all it cost me was the price of the card. Yes, it’s true that I did have a 13-year old neighbor kid walk me through it, but the point is that I saved myself $40 bucks and a visit to the local shop. Now $40 ordinarily wouldn't seem like much to a highly paid associate editor such as myself, but like Queen Latifah says, “It doesn’t matter how much money you have, free stuff is always a good thing.”
You already own the tools: You don’t need all those shiny and expensive computer repair tools you see in TV shows. Truthfully, for hardware issues, a simple screwdriver with a few interchangeable bits and a bright light, and you are in business.
But what about when you don’t know what is wrong with the computer? No worries. There are any number of professional-grade software diagnostic tools available online for free. (Spoiler alert: Computer repair people use many of these same diagnostic tools.) Here are links to several widely used free tools:
Less down time: No going to the repair shop, no waiting behind other customers and no smug looks from some white-shirt-and-black-tie-wearing pimply-faced punk who doesn’t even have a driver’s license. You don’t have to hope they get to your machine, you just dive right in.
The solutions to most common computer problems are fairly simple. If you can use Google, watch online videos and follow instructions, you’ll almost certainly be pleasantly surprised at what you can fix on your own.
On the other hand, what if, like I used to be, you are just one of those people who has no faith in your technical abilities? Just do what I’ve done and sign up for TestOut’s PC Pro course. PC Pro uses multiple learning formats to teach even the most ham-fisted Luddite to install, manage, and secure computer hardware and master home and corporate OS environments.
As an added incentive, upon completing the course, you can sit for the exam and find yourself TestOut PC Pro-certified. Who knows, once you learn your way around a computer, you’ll not only save money on repairs, but you may also find yourself considering a career change.
About the Author — Calvin Harper is an associate editor for GoCertify and a veteran of the publishing industry. Calvin charges $20/hour to do basic PC repairs, but he doesn't make house calls.