Choosing the right computer repair company.

Posted on | November 19, 2011 | Comments Off on Choosing the right computer repair company.

Every now and again I have customers come to me with computer problems that have been made worse by the previous “tech” they used.  The last person who came to me had called a “computer repair engineer” he found in the small ads of a local newspaper after his PC became infected with a virus.  Instead of cleaning the virus the tech guy performed what we call a “Nuke & Pave” which is a complete reinstall of the operating system, when he did the reinstall he used an illegal Windows license key and to make matters a lot worse when he installed the OS he managed to get it assigned to the “D:” drive letter instead of the “C:” drive.

These unscrupulous tech engineers often work for “cash in hand”, have no ethics, would not think twice about installing illegal software on their customers computers, and do not posses technical qualifications or enough experience to have any chance of repairing the problem to the customers satisfaction.  Often their customers are left with no comeback and end up turning to a qualified technician to correct the problems they created and sort out the original issues.  The result is additional cost for the customer and the possibility of their data being lost forever.

So how do you avoid these fly-by-night computer repair people also known as “Pizza Techs” (computer techs offering to repair computers for enough money to pay for their beer and pizza!)? Check out this You Tube video for a classic example of what I’m talking about.

I would follow these key points when choosing an engineer:

  • Recommendations are key!  We get most of our business from recommendations, we do little advertising because we don’t need to.  If you know someone who has used a computer tech and had a good experience then you should consider using the same person.
  • Query the techs qualifications and experience. Do they have vendor certifications? Can they show you them? Can they show you a CV? Can they provide you with multiple people willing to vouch for them?
  • Do they provide a land-line number and registered business address? Do they have a website address? Would you really give your computer over to a person who just provides you with a mobile number? Are they willing to provide proof of identity?
  • Can you pay by bank transfer or cheque? I would not recommend dealing with anyone only willing to accept cash.
  • Are they willing to provide a receipt for payment or any hardware they need to take away to work on in their workshop?
  • Do they have valid insurance? At a minimum they should posses Public and product liability. Ask to see a certificate.
  • Are they offering software or charging rates that seem to good to be true? It’s not wrong to shop around for a good price but there are factors other than price to consider. Would you employ a builder to build you a house just because he was the cheapest?
  • Do they offer a guarantee on any work undertaken in their terms & conditions?
  • Do they offer to back up your data prior to working on your computer? Pizza Techs will often just wipe your hard drive by reinstalling windows. You should never have to lose data unless your hard is faulty or your data corrupt prior to repairs being undertaken.

I’ve seen quite a few examples of “Pizza Tech” work brought to me, by following the points above you can help reduce the risk of being caught out.

Why is my computer running slow & what can I do about it?

Posted on | October 30, 2011 | Comments Off on Why is my computer running slow & what can I do about it?

One of the most common reasons we are called here at Bluefish Computer Services is to assist customers who’s computers are running slowly.

I thought I would write a quick blog with the three most common causes we witness and what you can do to help.

  1. Excessive Start-up Programs.  This is by far the most common cause we see, people install fancy toolbars helpers, voice recognition software, printer management software, weather reporting programs etc.. etc..  It takes time to load all these programs during start-up and often they never get used.  What do we do to fix this?  Well it’s pretty simple we disable unwanted or unnecessary programs on start-up.
    If you want to do this yourself first make sure you have a recent backup of your system, you should always regularly backup your computer to an external storage device anyway but make sure you do this before disabling start-up programs just in case.
    Now click on Start, Run, then type msconfig and click OK.  Click the start-up toolbar at the top, go through all the programs and un-tick the ones you no longer want to run at start-up.  Note unticking them will not remove the program it will just stop it running at start-up.  Do not remove your firewall, anti-virus or other security software you have as you still want this to run when your machine starts.  If you are unsure if you need the program to run at start-up you can always remove it then add it back at a later time.  Restart your computer once you have finished, the less programs you have set to run at start-up the faster your computer will boot.
  2. Insufficient RAM (Memory).   The second most common cause of a slow computer we find is insufficient memory.  The RAM is your computers running memory used to provide space for your computer to read and write data to be accessed by it’s CPU.  Newer operating systems such as Windows 7 require larger amounts of RAM (1 GB RAM is recommended for 32-bit systems 2 GB RAM  for 64-bit systems).  If you then also run programs in addition which use a lot of RAM such as Design Programs, Games etc.. then you might start to notice a slow down.  Luckily RAM is not expensive and there are lots of websites that sell RAM, a lot will also have tools to help you find the exact type of RAM you need and the amount of RAM your system can take.
  3. Malware.  Malware is short for malicious software and includes things like viruses, worms, spyware, trojan horses, rootkits, scareware etc..  We find customers are commonly infected by installing programs they though were OK such as quirky screen-savers or “helpful” utilities, by not keeping up-to-date with software updates, being tricked into downloading “security” software which turns out to be a fake anti-virus or rouge security programs etc..  Once infected the malware often slows the users computer by constantly launching pop-up boxes trying to make the user pay for security software to “protect them”, installing keyloggers and other programs that run in the background and capture the users keystrokes or scans the computer looking for passwords or often malicious software uses the computer to take part in denial of services attacks against their systems without the users knowledge.  If you think you are infected with Malware then I would recommend you take your system to a professional and have them check it for infections and clean the system.  If you don’t have a backup of your data you should always ensure you have one prior to undertaking any “cleaning exercise”.

If you would like assistance with any of the above issues above or you would like someone to check your computer to find out why it’s running slow then Bluefish Computer Services can help you, feel free to contact us.

Bluefish Computer Services regularly fix customers computers that are running slow, we also complete hardware upgrades and computer repairs in Chichester and the surrounding areas.  We can provide low cost backup solutions and the training required to keep up to date with backups.

Backups – Don’t let disaster strike!

Posted on | October 13, 2011 | Comments Off on Backups – Don’t let disaster strike!

I was called to visit a small business in Chichester this week, the owners laptop wasn’t booting because the operating system was corrupt and although he had the original setup CD he was unable to repair it. One of the first questions I asked was “do you backup your computer and your important files?”, unfortunately the answer was no.

Luckily I was able to mount the hard drive, transfer the files he needed to my laptop, run a fresh install and then move the files back. Some of the data included accounting files, customer contact lists, design files and a lot of other important documents.

When I asked him later why he never backed up, he replied with the same kind of answers I hear a lot. The most common reasons I hear when visiting customers include:

  • I never had the time to set it up
  • I didn’t know how to set it up
  • I thought it would be too expensive, etc…

When I asked him how important those files were he realised that he might possibly be out of business without them!

Hard drives have moving parts, they tend to break now and again, laptops are stolen, operating systems corrupted, important files accidentally deleted you get the idea…

Contrary to popular belief it’s not expensive or complicated to backup your data, I install 1TB portable hard drives (big enough for your average system), the software needed to run the backups and teach the customer how to backup for less than £90. It’s not complicated, the software can be scheduled to run in the background by itself leaving you to get on with what you need to.

Other options I regularly install include NAS (Network Attached Storage) for backing up multiple computers and off-site cloud backup over the Internet, which again are simple, flexible and often inexpensive options.

I do sometimes find it hard to believe how little value is put on making backups but I guess the sad fact is a lot of people never think about them until it’s too late.

So make sure you don’t let disaster strike, backup your data!

If you need any help or advice then please feel free to contact us and I’m sure we can work something out for you 🙂

p.s – Don’t use CD’s or DVD’s for important backups, they have a limited shelf life.

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