When your computer stops working or shows you the dreaded ‘Blue Screen of Death,’ it can be tempting to call the number you saw in the local paper for a computer repair specialist. Yet when you go to pick up your computer, you’ll most likely find that the charges are huge. Like an auto-mechanic, they will charge you for parts as well as by the hour for labor – and even a minor fix can sometimes take hours or even days of troubleshooting before the problem is resolved.
So are computer repair specialists a rip-off or a necessity? That depends on your problem, as well as on the specialist.
Beware “Too Good To Be True” Claims
One thing you should beware of is the kind of specialist that promises such things as all repairs for $20. No reputable specialist will ever make such a claim. Your problem could be as small as needing to install an outdated driver file or as large as a corrupted hard drive, neither of which justify charging $20. Finding a specialist that can offer you a reasonable quote based on what is wrong with your machine is the easiest solution. Be sure to get the quote in writing in advance.
Check Reviews of the Specialist
Another thing you need to consider is the reputation of the specialist. Look online for reviews of the computer expert in question or ask around for recommendations. Make certain that the individual is even qualified to handle your problem. Anyone with a phone number can offer computer repair services, but this does not mean that they are capable of properly fixing your machine, even if they do call themselves a specialist.
Try Your Big Box Store for Cheaper Repairs
One piece of advise we can give you is that before sending your machine off for repair, check out your local electronics store, as well as any shop that sells computers. Most big-name tech stores have their own computer repairs bay, which will usually be a whole lot cheaper than a smaller repair shop, which gets fewer customers and therefore needs to charge higher prices to stay in business.
Find a Tech-Savvy Friend
Another option you have is to ask around and see if you have any tech-savvy friends. If you are from an older generation, you might be surprised to find that your 15-year-old nephew knows how to swap out your hard drive or defrag your ‘C’ drive just as well as the local repair shop does!
Splash Out the Cash if Your Data is Irreplaceable
One word of advice – mistakes made while trying to fix a computer are usually irreparable. Once data is gone, it’s gone, and data recovery services are prohibitively expensive – often costing hundreds or thousands of dollars depending on how much damage has been done to your hard drive. Therefore, if the contents of your hard drive are of great value, such as business documents, a half-finished novel or five year’s worth of family photos – go see a specialist. Just think how much you’d pay to get your hard drive data back if someone told you its contents were 100% lost, and grit your teeth and just pay that money from the outset (I speak from experience!).
The bottom line is that a computer repair specialist may be a good investment, provided you have a problem that requires specialty help and the person you have chosen is reputable. Take the time to make sure you are choosing the right person for the job and you can get the quality and service you deserve.
A Note on Prevention!
A final word – prevention is always better than cure, so once you have your computer working again, be sure to back up regularly. A pack of DVDs hold 4GB of data per disk and you can get a pack of 20 for under $15.
If you have a lot of data, such as photos or video, invest in an external hard drive and back up your data regularly – once a month at the bare minimum, ideally every week or every day. You can even set your external hard drive to back up all your data automatically at the interval and time of your choice. You can now buy a Terabyte Hard Drive (1TB HD) for under $100 at any decent home electronics store such as Frys or Best Buy. Considering what you have to lose, consider it an investment.