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Pittsburgh Tech Guy

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Avoid the Rip-off


As a professional in the field, I can tell you that it is very easy to rip customers off.  I don't do it, personally, but whether or not you use my services or not, you need to know what is good service and what is not.  Here are some of the pitfalls you will deal with when trying to get service for your computer.  Some of these services are good and useful and some are a waste of money.

PC Tune Up

I'm rather amused when I see this service offered.  The amusement comes from not having any idea what the "tune up' is.  Every technician has varying definitions of a PC tuneup.  For the most part, a PC tuneup is a waste of money as the technician isnt doing anything that you cannot do yourself with tools already on your system.  Some of the services in these tuneups include:

  1. Deleting Temporary Files
  2. Defragmenting the Hard Drive
  3. Updating Windows
  4. Removing Unwanted Programs
  5. Cleaning the Registry

All of these tasks can be done very easily yourself.  Here is how:

  1. Delete Temporary Files by going to Start-All Programs-Accessories-System Tools - Disk Cleanup.  This built in utility will delete temporary Files
  2. Defragment your hard drive by going to Start-All Programs-Accessories-System Tools - Disk Defragmenter.  If you have Windows 7, the hard drive defragments automatically on a default schedule.
  3. To Update Windows, Start-All Programs- Windows Update.  Repeat until Windows tells you there are no new updates.
  4. To remove unwanted programs go to Control Panel-Add/Remove Programs (or Programs in Windows 7).  When the list loads, simply uninstall what you're unwanted program
  5. Do not clean the registry.  There is little evidence that Registry Cleaners do anything useful  More times than not, they will cause problems.  If you must use a "registry cleaner", the safest is CCleaner. 

Setup Services

This is a pure money grab.  What happens is, you buy a printer, and pay them to take it out the box, setup and install it.  The same holds true for computer setup and the like.  Every printer and computer comes with detailed instructions on what to do to set it up.  It really is not difficult, try it yourself and keep your money.  Many stores will pass off the process as something difficult and needing there help. 


Data Transfer

If you buy a new computer or replace your old one, the store offers you the opportunity to transfer your files from the old to the new.  If you have a external hard drive, you can do it yourself.  If you do not have a external hard drive, buy one, you can use it for the transfer and then for backing up your system afterward.  Simply copy everything in your user folder to the external drive.  Windows has simplified things by storing all personal files in your user folder (typically that folder on the desktop with your name (In xp, the my documents folder is where they are).  Everything is typically stored there.  Copy that folder to an external drive.  In Windows 7, there is an Easy Transfer program installed that will walk you through the transfer of data from one computer to another.  If you use an online backup solution (and you should), all you need to do is log on to the site on the new computer and simply download your files.

Hardware Updates/Repairs

If your optical drive (CD/DVD drive), fails, it can be purchased new for about $30.  Most vendors will charge about $40 to install, which is fair, even if it is more than I would charge.  If your computer is more than 2 years old, be cautious of how much you pay, if the repair is more than $200, then consider buying a new computer.  Budget desktops can be purchased for well under $400.  If you have multiple components fail, it may be time for a new computer.  Replacing Motherboards and CPU's are typically expensive, thus think about a new system.  Repairs vary, but get a second opinion if you get very high estimates.  Mine are free!

Software Installation

Never pay anyone to install software you purchased.  Simply place the DVD in your computer and follow the prompts.   If you downloaded the program, simply double click on the installation file that you downloaded to start the installation.   If you lost or misplaced that downloaded file, most, if not all websites will let you download the program again since you already paid for it.  That is all the person you are paying to install programs is doing. 

Virus Removal

Touchy subject here, because there is really only one way to perform a virus removal.  Backup the personal files, re-format the hard drive and reinstall the operating system from a known good source (ie. your windows DVD).  Anyone who tells you they can remove it without reinstalling the system is not being honest.  The nature of virus is such that nobody can be 100% percent sure that they eradicated the virus completely without erasing the drive first.  Malware hides, it is trying to avoid removal, no technician can tell with 100% certainty that they got it all.  If they miss anything, the malware may return.  Some malware is designed to bring itself back if not removed properly. 

PC Optimization

Another ripoff.  Any optimization is merely somebody going into the control panel and playing with various settings.  Nothing you cannot do yourself.  This is another service that I laugh at, cause it could mean anything.

Keep these thoughts in mind when getting your computer serviced.  It's a scary road out there, but I am here to smooth out those bumps a bit.