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What Computers Are Worth Repairing


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#1 USM666

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Posted 22 April 2012 - 09:02 PM

I repair computers for a side job,but I have been struggling far too much with older computers within the 2004-ish era. Mostly do to the fact that the drivers are too damn hard to find,Windows XP is a pain in the ass. What is the oldest age you will fix a computer? If it is not capable of running Windows 7,I would rather not fix it at all. Tired of gathering drivers from across the internet and incompatibility issues with old models.

Best to sum this up:

+Windows 7 incapable is a waste of time. Have to work 5 times more to fix them.
+Older parts are harder to find and I have no patience to wait for a week or more to repair.
+Older computers tend to be incredibly dusty,smelly and most likely to be beyond repair.
+Older computers are really unreliable to actually handle modern web browsers,software,etc.
+Drivers are harder to find,even more unreliable to actually work. Most customers do not bring the original CDs with them or own them.
+Windows XP is most likely to be attacked by viruses and is unstable in this modern time. Especially being a "dead system".

I'm not sure what else to find most annoying about older computers,other than I will have to charge double the usual rate. I need to know what is the oldest year most computer repair guys will actually deal with. I'm just tired of working more for money that is not even worth it.

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#2 kisk

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Posted 22 April 2012 - 10:19 PM

I run a computer repair biz full time and I'm a little troubled by your comments to say the least. I'll break down the post for you so you know what to expect out of this business.

Windows 7 incapable is a waste of time. Have to work 5 times more to fix them.

Not sure what you mean by this, but just because the machine might not run Win7 optimally doesn't mean the client is dissatisfied with it. XP might do everything they need it for (Web Browsing/Email/Facebook/etc). What do you have to do exactly that takes 5x more work? XP has proven to be a stellar operating system over the years and support/information of fixing issues in it are well documented all over the internet.

Older parts are harder to find and I have no patience to wait for a week or more to repair.

Which parts are you having trouble finding? eBay is your best friend in this business. If you can't find a compatible part you need then you're not looking hard enough. Waiting for parts to come in is part of this business.

Older computers tend to be incredibly dusty,smelly and most likely to be beyond repair.

Yes, sometimes they are, but you can use this to your advantage and let them know the concerns of having all that dust built up. When I see fans/heatsinks/PSUs all clogged with dust I point it out to the client and let them know why its a good idea to keep it clean and that I'll clean it up for them. A small air compressor goes a long way. They'll appreciate this and know you have their best interests at hand -- this leads to repeat business.

Older computers are really unreliable to actually handle modern web browsers,software,etc.

You said within the "2004" era. XP SP3 was released in 2001!! XP can handle all the newest browsers with the exception of IE9. Software companies STILL make XP compatibility a requirement. Which software are you speaking of that isn't compatible with XP?

Drivers are harder to find,even more unreliable to actually work. Most customers do not bring the original CDs with them or own them.

Easy.. you visit the manufacturer's website for all drivers. Any recovery/install CDs can be easily obtained and you WILL have to if you want to use them. For the most part customers do not keep discs.

Windows XP is most likely to be attacked by viruses and is unstable in this modern time. Especially being a "dead system".

Its not a dead system. Approximately 45% of all computers in the world STILL run XP. A LOOOOT of business still use it as well -- securely I might add.



I hate to say it, but if you're this upset about working on older computers then computer repair is probably not where you want to be. Just saying :thumbup2:

Edited by kisk, 22 April 2012 - 10:25 PM.

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#3 USM666

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 12:31 AM

Trust me,I have seriously have tried far too much to try and fix computers of certain age and models. When I tried to install drivers on Windows 7 on certain old computers,they driver installation would crash,even with administrator and compatibility mode. I even tried other unorthodox methods. Even when I installed the driver successfully,anything that I tried to run such as adobe flash or videos,the whole computer would crash. Even if some cannot physically handle it,most refuse to accept anything newer that is ahead of it's time.

These drivers are straight from the manufacturers,some of them would not even bother to work properly when device manager detects no problems. But if I run it under Windows 7,they would work right and properly. This issue occurs far too much with XP and I have had more issues with it than any other operating system in my entire life.

Yes,XP is considered a DEAD SYSTEM because Microsoft stopped working on it since 2008.

I've had some old computers that as soon as the fan kicks in,the entire room will smell of all the collection of smells that this computer has been surrounded by. I even did myself and the customer a favor and took the motherboard out and everything,washed it liked a giant dish and cleaned it. It stunk up my room like moldy cheese just sitting there.

XP is a poor man's effective operating system,they're even so cheap as to make it run without the theme's on only 256 MB which is poor beyond belief.

I'm just going to give my customers my price policy,it is just too much work for an unstable operating system. Yes,XP is unstable because I had to re-install Windows XP 24 times in a year. Meanwhile Windows 7 had only to be re-installed 3 times. I need a operating system that can handle mostly anything.

#4 Dalewyn

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 04:51 AM

When I tried to install drivers on Windows 7 on certain old computers,they driver installation would crash,even with administrator and compatibility mode.

I would question the practicality of installing Windows 7 on "old" computers, whatever your definition of "old" is. Unless the computers came with Windows 7, wouldn't it be more prudent to reinstall whatever OS was on the computer already? A machine that's ran Windows XP throughout the years doesn't suddenly stop cooperating with it, as far as I know.

These drivers are straight from the manufacturers,some of them would not even bother to work properly when device manager detects no problems. But if I run it under Windows 7,they would work right and properly. This issue occurs far too much with XP and I have had more issues with it than any other operating system in my entire life.

Not sure what you've been doing, but I personally never had driver issues come up with Windows XP.

Yes,XP is considered a DEAD SYSTEM because Microsoft stopped working on it since 2008.

You do realize Microsoft still supports Windows XP under its Extended Support program, right? You also realize that most (if not all) software vendors still actively support Windows XP, right? Windows XP is far from being a dead operating system and I'll even wager that Windows XP will continue to be a factor well after it reaches its retirement on April 8th, 2014 simply because of its monstrous market share and appeal to a broad audience.

I've had some old computers that as soon as the fan kicks in,the entire room will smell of all the collection of smells that this computer has been surrounded by. I even did myself and the customer a favor and took the motherboard out and everything,washed it liked a giant dish and cleaned it. It stunk up my room like moldy cheese just sitting there.

You just have to deal with it, I guess. Some computers may have been abused more than others, but if you choose to repair computers there's really no way around it short of refusing service.

XP is a poor man's effective operating system,they're even so cheap as to make it run without the theme's on only 256 MB which is poor beyond belief.

I can swear that this is the first time I've seen an operating system derided for being light on system requirements. Yes, XP was a resource hog for its time, but by today's standards XP is as light as a feather compared to most other operating systems seeing service today.

It should also be mentioned that Windows XP was the cutting edge in Windows operating systems much like how Windows 7 is today. To call Windows XP a "poor man's operating system" reeks of ignorance and disrespect for an operating system that has served and benefited many people greatly for a decade and beyond.

I'm just going to give my customers my price policy,it is just too much work for an unstable operating system. Yes,XP is unstable because I had to re-install Windows XP 24 times in a year. Meanwhile Windows 7 had only to be re-installed 3 times. I need a operating system that can handle mostly anything.

It's your choice to refuse to service older computers and nobody will deride you for it, the most anyone will probably do is take their business elsewhere. That said, your blatant hate for Windows XP is unwarranted and does not leave much room for a constructive debate to be had. Yes, Windows XP is old, but it's still a fine and respectable operating system despite its age.

#5 rotor123

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 12:28 PM

Yes,XP is considered a DEAD SYSTEM because Microsoft stopped working on it since 2008.

I'm just going to give my customers my price policy,it is just too much work for an unstable operating system. Yes,XP is unstable because I had to re-install Windows XP 24 times in a year. Meanwhile Windows 7 had only to be re-installed 3 times. I need a operating system that can handle mostly anything.


Windows XP is dead? That is news to me and evidently Microsoft too. If it is dead why is Microsoft still supplying New security updates for XP and for Two more years too.

You aren't doing anybody a favor by putting Windows 7 on old computers. It isn't cost effective.

If you had to reinstall XP 24 times in 1 year then that computer has hardware problems or someone keeps going back and getting Malware'ed. Same answer If you had re-install Windows 7 three rimes in a year.

I've got computers sitting here running XP 24 hours a day for years. The only time I had a problem I had to replace the Noisy Power supply fan and on another one I had to replace some bad capacitors on the motherboard. They both went back in service the same day, still running the same windows Xp installation.

The only problems I ever see with Windows XP are due to Bad hardware, Viruses, or user deleting things.

If you are having problems finding drivers for XP all I can say I have never had problems like that.
I hate to say it but it sounds to me as if you like Windows 7 because it installs most drivers for you. Those drivers are not optimal and will not be as reliable or let the computer perform as well as the proper Windows 7 driver does.

If a computer smells bad to you why are you taking it in?

If only Smells were worst problem! Wait until someone brings one in for service that is alive. When those roaches start scurrying away from the computer you better hope you are fast on the bug spray. And yes it happens.

You will be turning away a lot of work by avoiding XP.

Edited by rotor123, 23 April 2012 - 12:31 PM.

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#6 computerxpds

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 01:50 PM

Part of doing computer repair for people on the side, is the challenge and the learning experience for me.. Just because something is hard or you have to work for it makes you turn away a potential customer boggles my mind.. There are many ways of finding drivers and also many ways of finding help with something that stumps you. Personally I have around 9 computers sitting near me that are from as far back as 2001 that still churn away.. ALL running XP and All original exception is a few hardware fixes and such.. Windows 7 in my opinion is quite annoying as far as drivers and things seems to go wrong more on 7. And yes if it is having that much trouble its most likely caused by the end user.
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#7 kisk

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 02:15 PM

Not to mention working on XP systems can be a great stepping stone for further sales. Most manufacturers around the 2004ish era on provided 512MB of ram. We all know XP needs at least a gig to run smooth -- use this and work with the customer and a lot of times you can get an extra sale.

Unfortunately it sounds like you are fairly new to the business. Getting frustrated and turning people away because you haven't mastered something is a death sentence for your business. Maybe that's the business modal you want to use, but I can assure you it won't work out well for you in the long run if you want to take it on full time.

Btw, you think drivers are an issue in XP, lol try doing a reinstall on Win98... I still give limited support for 98. I try not to ever turn away business. Every successful job gives you possible repeat business and referrals.

But hey, go ahead and send your XP machines to your competitors.. they'll love you for it :lol:
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#8 Queen-Evie

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 03:04 PM

Just because something is hard or you have to work for it makes you turn away a potential customer boggles my mind..


Think about this when you turn away those customers:

1) People talk. Those who are turned away will NOT recommend you to their family and friends. If someone asks "who is a good computer tech" the answer will be "I know where you SHOULDN'T take it" and then proceed to list all the reasons you should be avoided. AND not only will the use word-of-mouth they have other ways to bad-mouth you, such as social media and business review sites.


2) Someone brings you an XP/older system. You send them away. Maybe that person has another system at home-a shiny "newer" one with Windows Vista or Windows 7. Maybe that "new" computer needs to be repaired. Will they bring it to you? Nope, they won't because you could not be bothered to help them before or if you did they found you charged a small fortune for working on it which makes them believe ALL your prices are to high.

3) Once again, people talk. They take the computer to someone else. They tell that someone else you refused to touch it. Enough people tell other techs about their bad experience with you your name is mud in the tech business.

If I took my XP system (which is a back up system in case one of our Win 7 systems goes down) to you and I was told you charge double for working on it I would take my (unrepaired) computer, walk out, and take it to someone else. In the future I would avoid doing business with you.

4)

What Computers Are Worth Repairing


Any computer the CUSTOMER wants repaired. If it may turn out to be costly, tell the customer and let him/her decide whether to go ahead with it.

Edited by Queen-Evie, 23 April 2012 - 03:16 PM.


#9 rotor123

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 04:13 PM

Not to mention working on XP systems can be a great stepping stone for further sales. Most manufacturers around the 2004ish era on provided 512MB of ram. We all know XP needs at least a gig to run smooth -- use this and work with the customer and a lot of times you can get an extra sale.

Unfortunately it sounds like you are fairly new to the business. Getting frustrated and turning people away because you haven't mastered something is a death sentence for your business. Maybe that's the business modal you want to use, but I can assure you it won't work out well for you in the long run if you want to take it on full time.

Btw, you think drivers are an issue in XP, lol try doing a reinstall on Win98... I still give limited support for 98. I try not to ever turn away business. Every successful job gives you possible repeat business and referrals.

But hey, go ahead and send your XP machines to your competitors.. they'll love you for it :lol:


Windows 98 is as old as you go?
I put together a Used computer system last year to the customers Specs.

It had to have ISA for an old equipment controller card, 3.5" & 5.25" floppies
You can guess the next, right?


Windows 3.1 on DOS.

The hard part was finding a old Video card that I could get win3.1 drivers for. Then I had to go refresh myself on how to install the drivers.
I had the floppy since I held onto the 1.2Mb 5.25" drives. I've sold two of those 1.2Mb drives this year too.
The hard part is I have more drives than floppy cables.

If you have the room there is no too old computer equipment.

Cheers
Roger

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#10 the_patriot11

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 06:29 PM

I dont run a full time business, I just do it on the side. I will generally fix any desktop computer regardless of age or OS. I also sell computers-and when I sell a computer, I normally take their old one on trade, so that way I have parts handy if a customer brings in a older computer and want it fixed and I sell it to them cheap, so finding parts is no big deal. If I dont have the part, it all depends on how bad the customer wants it fixed.

As far as virus removals, I run a couple anti-virus programs, and if that doesnt do it I just reformat the computer. For the amount of money I charge (im extremely cheap) Id lose to much time and money.

As far as laptops, if its hardware related, I will fix it if its hard drive or memory related, but otherwise I wont waste the time typically. Now, if the customer really really wants it fixed and are willing to pay the extra to get it done, Ill do it, but as a rule of thumb I wont touch a laptop if its anyhing besides memory and hard drives.

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#11 lti

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 06:47 PM

In some cases, an old computer is required for the required software to run properly. You can't just tell someone to buy a new computer when they might have software that can not run in Windows 7. Some might not be able to afford a new computer that is as powerful as their old computer that is "not worth repairing." A new $300 computer is much slower than a midrange computer from 2004.

It sounds like the original poster is using the same business practices as TV repair services.

#12 rotor123

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 09:50 AM

the_patriot11, You may be passing up a source of money then with regards to laptops.

Here in NJ the charge to repair a broken DC in jack is $149 parts and labor + tax.

Some are a pain such as certain Dells that have nine points to unsolder. Others may only have three and others it may be on a small easy to change circuit board or a cable that plugs in. I've seen Sony L/Ts where the jack is broken but it is a fairly simple unplug and plug in the new cable. Some Toshibas the jack pushes in, there you offer the economy fix, Hot Melt Glue built up around the jack so it can't push in. The proper fix involves ordering the Laptop base assembly and cable and you have to charge extra in that case.

I know places that do one or two a day of that kind of repair. Plus since the Geek Squad doesn't do that kind of repair nor does Staples. So with a little time talking to the Techs they'll send you that kind of work.

Sort of like what the Electronics part store down the street and I do where we send each other customers for what we do.

Laptop screens are easy if you have the screen. Locally the screens are $129 + $99 Labor + tax. The one store near me they do 3 or 4 a day. It just takes a gentle touch with the cables so they do not get damaged. If the L/T has a broken screen that otherwise works, easy repair. Common sizes seem to be the Older 15.4" and the newer 15.6" LED screens. I believe they sell around $60 each on the internet from what I've seen. 17" would be $179 + $99.

As for older computers the Pentium 1, 2 and 3 models were more durable and better built. I have a couple of Dell 450Mhz computers that still work sitting around just in case.

If I sell off a used Desktop or Laptop computer I usually give 6 months to a year warranty. Excludes software or physical damage. When I sold off my old Desktop with a Q6600 CPU and 4Gb and single core Laptop I gave a year warranty. I took the old(er) Toshiba dual core L/T in trade. Mine still looked like new with manuals and disks. The Toshiba they didn't take care of it. The keyboard was approx $20 and the Heat Sink assembly was under $10. The heat pipe had failed. To make it look new would cost an extra $50 for the back of the screen and the Top cover (Around the keyboard).

I'm happy with it, the motherboard was changed under the two year warranty, I popped in a SSD and it is much faster than the old one. They are happy because they got one that looked like new and didn't have to wait for the warranty repair, Plus pay for the keyboard (Missing keys are not covered).

That's my idea of a good deal. Where both sides are happy.

Anyway just don't pass up a source of revenue. Many service manuals are available on the Internet. Dell & HP (Compaq) from the maker. Acer from here http://azbooki.ru/service-manuals/%d0%b8%d0%bd%d1%81%d1%82%d1%80%d1%83%d0%ba%d1%86%d0%b8%d0%b8-%d0%bf%d0%be-%d1%80%d0%b0%d0%b7%d0%b1%d0%be%d1%80%d0%ba%d0%b5-ace.html

A good source for some http://www.laptoprepair101.com/laptop/category/laptop-service-manual/
and
http://repair4laptop.org/notebook.html

Anyway, Best Regards
Roger

Edited by rotor123, 24 April 2012 - 09:52 AM.

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#13 killerx525

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 11:32 AM

Thanks for posting those laptop disassemble sites, especially the Acer one :D Doesn't Lenovo/IBM have service manual for their laptops?

Another site is this, it has clear photos with arrows and stuff like that which is really handy, you should check it out.

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#14 rotor123

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 11:48 AM

You are right Lenovo also makes their service manuals available easily.

Did you ever resolve the issues with your Toshiba?

Cheers
Roger

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#15 kisk

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 01:27 PM

Newbie definitely appreciate service manuals.. I know I did!

Once you get about ~5-10 different laptop disassemblies under your belt you're pretty much good to go and can break down any laptop w/out a guide. They're all more or less assembled the same :thumbup2:

Definitely a market you don't want to miss out on!!
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