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The Computer Buzz October 11th, 2007

Nome and Paul Van Middlesworth - owners - The Computer Fact


What's the matter with My Computer?

"It won't turn on, it won't turn off, I can't get on the Internet, I can't get my E-Mail, it won't open attachments, the screen is blue, the screen is black, It takes forever to boot up, it's making funny noises, it keeps turning itself off, my icons have disappeared, It says I have a virus, my home page has turned into a porno site", and our very favorite, "what does it mean when smoke comes out of the top?"

We're often asked whether we do "on site" service. The answer is of course we do - but do you really want it?

Unless a problem is network related, it's usually far less costly to have the work done "in house" (at the shop.) To service or repair a PC thoroughly often requires scanning for mal-ware and file repair, running diagnostic software, and downloading updates for the operating system, programs or drivers. While these functions are running, our "in house" technicians can be working at other tasks. PC diagnostic, repair and update programs might require six hours of run time but only an hour of technician time. An "in house" customer would pay only one hour ($60). "On site" the technician would need to be present and compensated for the entire time even though 80% of his time was spent doing nothing. That's why "Geek Squad" and other on site repair services are so expensive.

Most PCs that come in for repair have software, not hardware issues. The most common hardware problems we see relate to power supplies, hard drives and RAM.

If the PC is completely dead, it's likely the power supply. The usual cost for power supply replacement is $35 for the power supply and $30 labor.

If the PC turns on but won't boot to a Windows screen, it's likely the hard drive. Hard drive replacements cost $60 to $100 and about the same in labor.

RAM very seldom goes bad, but we often see PCs that are "RAM tight." They don't have enough RAM to run efficiently. These PCs are slow to boot and often freeze or crash while running. XP systems need at least 512Mb of RAM and a full Gb. of RAM makes a big difference. Vista PCs need 2.0Gb of RAM to function properly. A RAM upgrade, including labor, will cost $50 to $100.

Here's an easy way to determine whether or not your PC is "RAM tight." Boot your PC. Then press the ctrl, alt and del keys simultaneously. Now click the performance tab on task manager box. These two charts show your CPU and RAM resource usage. If your RAM usage is over 300Mb or if your CPU is fluxuating wildly, you probably need a "clean-up." If you have only 256Mb of RAM you need more. If you have 512Mb, you should consider adding another 512Mb.

Next week we'll discuss software problems like corrupt applications and operating systems, mal-ware, conflicts, and bad programs, like Norton Internet Security.





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