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QOTD: Are You Always Fixing PCs for Others?

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 17 comments

Computers break down and produce problems for people on a daily basis. Things can go wrong, and sometimes, the problems are not even fixable--like a fried CPU. Sometimes some things just have to be entirely replaced.

Arguably, sometimes this is the fastest route to solving the computer problem. Troubleshooting hardware or software issues, depending how severe, can consume a considerable amount of time--especially for those who consider themselves technically savvy. Parents, family, friends, coworkers, strangers; if you're the computer "expert" in the group, they'll be knocking at your door soon enough.

The question of the day is: Are you finding yourself always fixing other people's computer issues?

If you are in this situation, what's the most common problems you're finding?

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  • 1 Hide
    plasmastorm , 10 April 2009 06:50
    Yup, It's my job.
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    plasmastorm , 10 April 2009 06:51
    hmm, most common problem, spyware removal and fake virus alert software like windows antivirus 2009 etc.

    Virus issues are relatively low.
    Would say about 90% of the problems i fix due to malware are all releated to lime wire.
  • 1 Hide
    shoota , 10 April 2009 07:43
    i'm fixing one right as we speak. in fact for the past month it's all i've been doing for friends. and i've got a couple more still to go. most common problem: retarded people not maintaining their dang computers. viruses, malware, adware, fragmented harddrives, a begillion startup programs. rarely is it a hardware failure. if i hear "my computer is slow" one more time i'm gonna puke
  • Display all 17 comments.
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    waawaamp , 10 April 2009 11:39
    been doing it for years.

    people can be quite compu-dumb.

    once i got 20 quid from someone for moving 3 gigabytes of music from an internal hard drive to an external drive and i didn't even have to use my screwdriver.

    now their external western digital drive is one of my internal drives, since they blew the powerpack. all i had to do was recover the data and give it back to them on 3 dvds.

    i do get the odd weird ones and head scratchers though; someone once managed to get 6 cds lost inside the same optical drive, i didn't even know that many would fit. "every time i tried a disc, the tray would open and the disc would be gone" - and they tried 5 more times because...?

    others include: saturated laptops; coke, mi-wadi cordial, wallpaper paste... hardly ever water though =o/

    i charge my friends, not my family. i love the easy ones, setting up routers and cleaning out viruses.

    it's nice work if you can get it.
  • 1 Hide
    wild9 , 10 April 2009 13:07
    Yes, I am always being asked to fix other people's computers especially family and friends.

    At first I enjoyed it because I had an avid interest and wanted to use each fix or new build as a learning exercise. However word got around that I new a bit, and before long more and more people were expecting favours; it's now become a veritable ball-and-chain and a lot of people expect you to know everything.

    Neither have I made that much out of it and I would not really ask family, but they really take the biscuit. Sometimes it's an insult considering the amount of work you put in, especially when they refuse to part with the required sums of money under any circumstance, so you end up cutting corners that shouldn't really be cut, and given next to nothing for your effort but yet more questions.

    The most common question I am faced with today is not so much hardware but software, i.e. "What went wrong with my computer when it had spyware and what software do you recommend"? As if I'm supposed to know everything by virtue of one telephone, which I can guarantee always rings at the most inappropriate time such as when I'm sitting down to dinner. Then there's actually getting round to fixing the problem itself, which isn't helped by the fact a lot of these systems come with pre-installed rubbish that's either trialware or difficult to un-install.

    I'll be honest, the constant stream of calls and lack of financial reward has given reason to give up interest in this field. Maybe I just need a break from it. I get a bit fed up with being expected to know everything and I just wonder if at the end of the day it's all worth it. I like looking on the web and reading the reviews on THG and I like the entertainment side, but in these parts they only pay you from the neck down and it's really disheartening. If you can make money in this field I say good luck to you, but expect to be constantly filling your head with facts and figures that you will be expected to real off at a minute's notice lol.
  • 1 Hide
    Micropat , 10 April 2009 16:57
    Ya, I often have to try and fix computers for family members, friends and some of the ones at work. The problems I come across are usually due to people not taking care of their PCs (ie antivirus and windows updates not up to date). I think some problems I see are from installing random software (eg to watch movies online for free etc) and thereby getting malware. I even came across one computer with three antivirus programs all running together (Norton, AVG free and F-secure) and that was the least of it's problems.
    I end up fixing (or trying to fix, I'm not especially gifted) these things because I like messing around with computers and I've always enjoyed problem solving. Fixing PCs is like Sudoku to me. I find that I learn more about PCs for all this tinkering too.
    As much as I enjoy this kind of stuff I do get badgered to try and fix something when I'm very busy, or I get asked to fix something that either can't be fixed (by me anyway) or to fix something that isn't broken because someone just dosen't like their computer. Added to that I never really learned anything about computers. I know a few tricks to fix them from just tinkering with them and reading stuff on the net, some of which is posted by well intentioned (hopefully) people who don't know what they're talking about.
  • 1 Hide
    dantorquay , 10 April 2009 17:51
    God yes! On a daily basis.. If i charged decent money for my services i would be risher than i am now and i dont even charge family!

    Currently replacing a motherboard for a dv6000 hp laptop, have already got the part and soldered a new cage in place for an ac adapter on a acer laptop(and yes, that was hard!)

    I must have formatted about 5 pc/laptops in the last 3 weeks due to them being so full of rubbish and malware that i would rather format and reinstall than sit there for hours trying to get rid of the stuff...

    I cant get on the internet..."Well plug your bloody router back in then once u finish hoovering!"

    The list could literally be endless, THANKYOU so much for doing this QOTD!

    Dan
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , 10 April 2009 18:49
    Have been building and fixing PC's for friends and family for several years. I don't mind most of the time but it annoys the missus when we go visit friends and I end up spending hours sorting there PC woes. Despite moving house by 347 miles I still get calls from old/friends neighbours expecting me to be able to diagnose there problem and explain how they can fix it over the phone, or they ask when I will next be in the area to 'just pop in' and see them.
  • 2 Hide
    mi1ez , 10 April 2009 19:01
    yes. In exchange for beer normally.
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    dantorquay , 11 April 2009 00:11
    haha, yes for beer, best currency there is!!
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    szilu2002 , 11 April 2009 02:51
    I'm used to it i usually do this for beers as mi1ez said but i find user stupidity outrageous ... sometimes i could say poor computer most common problems are malware,viruses the little adverts that say free something ... are giving me headaches ...

    The most hated virus for me is "Your privacy is in danger* thats one cute little virus ... laptop shutdowns i always end up blowing air in the heat sinks and a lot of dust blows out and voila problem solved

    I hate user stupidity i like to build from scratch thats something i love to do i don't really have the money to buy a new rig so i just live it out on others

    And yes nowadays i don't really do it college eats up my days but when i go home once a month there is always someone knocking at the door common mate help me my rig is slow unreliable crashes etc ...

    The other problems phone or mess support i can't spot the freaking problem online because users can't report me what data i need ....
  • 0 Hide
    elektrip , 11 April 2009 17:22
    I even bought that shirt displayed here some years ago :-) I'm a systems engineer and of course friends and familiy take it for granted that I fix their issues. I also build custom PCs for them and strangers. Nowadays I charge per hour (no mor for free). I have a pay scale for friends, one for acquaintances and one for strangers. It's free for family members though...
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , 22 April 2009 21:43
    Not only do i fix everyone's computer, i tend to maintain, build, rebuild, and do preventative maintenance for them, amount other computer related stuff.
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    Anonymous , 5 May 2009 22:34
    I get this all the time.. the worst has to be the fact that people don't know whats wrong.

    best one recently was "My laptop won't connect to any wireless" he thought it was a virus, i turned on the wi-fi card !

    but my biggest pet hate is the rubbish that is installed on computers when u buy them, it wouldn't be hard to build in a function to uninstall after the trial period, as a software developer myself, i would be ashamed to put my name on some of the crap out there.

    then there are people who try to fix it, because they have watched me before.. i'd much rather they just left me to it.

    Money, i should be so lucky. i could make a fortune. instead im too nice, it normally involves beer or food. but as said before by someone. they really take the biscuit sometimes. A weekend of work and i get a pint for it... that works out at around (2x 7h)/ (Cost of pint @ £3.70) = 26 pence and hour ! (I cost around £450 a day through my work!)
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    elektrip , 5 May 2009 22:57
    Good point "disgruntled techy". Most of the work involves removing damn bloatware. Any new Lenovo/Stinkpad comes with hundreds of unusable "tools".
    Also, creating shortcuts and telling people where to click solves most problems. Well as I stated, I charge for it....nice guy times are gone.
  • 0 Hide
    Goro , 16 June 2009 09:06
    At first I was doing it for free and got me no respect from people but when you tell them a price they moan and bi*ch but the respect is bigger.

    Lot of bs software they downloaded that servers no purpose, broken dc jacks, hardware stuff, and a lot of user error. Lately I've been fixing userinit.exe for whatever reason they manage to delete it out of the registry.
  • 0 Hide
    Goro , 16 June 2009 09:07
    AND YES I HAVE THE SAME SHIRT JUST IN BLACK :)