So a friend came to me recently and asked if I could have a look at his computer because he suddenly started giving him an “Operating system not found” error every time he tried to boot. It was a fairly new laptop with Windows 7 Home Premium installed.
He took the laptop to GeekSquad and left the next minute when he was told it would cost $ 450 to repair the computer! He only paid about $ 500 for the laptop, so he wasn’t going to pay $ 450 to get it fixed. In short, I fixed everything for it for $ 88, which is the cost of a new hard drive since the original one was dead. You didn’t have to pay extra for Windows 7 because there was a product key on the back of the laptop.
In this article, I will try my best to show you how you can avoid the extra hundreds of dollars by trying to fix your computer with so-called “premium services” and do it yourself, or at least most of it yourself! In the end, I understand that there are people who simply do not understand, for example, how to open a computer, and they need someone else to do it for them. However, you can still avoid using an expensive service like GeekSquad for this.
The first thing you get when you take your computer to GeekSquad or any other computer repair service is diagnostics. I will not say that this is always a bad thing, as it really depends on the specialist who looks at your car. Some are really good and understand what’s going on, and some will tell you that the world ends when everything is okay.
Before you just listen to what someone has to say and spend a lot of money, take the time to figure out what they are saying is true. The great thing about computers is that, despite their complexity, they are nowhere near as complex as cars. When you take a car for repair and you don’t know anything about the cars, there is little you can do if you are told that your transmission is not working. You can get a second opinion, but you really can’t check the car to make sure it’s true.
With computers, you can actually check. Bad hard drive? You can check this easily. Bad memory? You can check this too. The consummate virus that messed up your entire system? Yeah, there are ways to check this! Fortunately, that’s roughly 90% of the problems that fall into the hands of GeekSquad. How about recovering data from a disk that won’t boot? You can spend $ 20 and do it yourself.
So you are asking yourself now, “This is great, but how can I do all this?” Before I get to that, I want to talk about the reasons I think people end up turning to a service like GeekSquad:
1. They just don’t have time to do it themselves
2. They don’t have the original DVD that came with the computer.
3. They have a DVD, but they don’t want to reinstall the OS because they will lose the data they need
4. They need to replace the equipment, but they are afraid of it or do not know what to replace
As far as I can tell, these are the most important problems, because of which people are forced to contact the repair service and pay a lot of money. Fortunately, there are several solutions before you shell out all that money. First, pay for the diagnostics, and then pick up your computer. I always tell people to never agree with a diagnosis and never let them do their job. Instead, let them tell you what they think are problems and what needs to be done, then go back home and check out this guide!
OTT do-it-yourself guide
Even if you can’t repair your computer yourself, you can at least figure out what’s really wrong with it. And in cases where you don’t need to replace your hard drive or memory, you can actually do it yourself. Let’s start with viruses, then hard drives, then memory. I will also show you how to recover data along the way.
Therefore, repair professionals can tell you one of two things when it comes to viruses: either it can be removed for some crazy amount, or it simply cannot be removed and you will have to reinstall Windows. In the latter case, this will require you to transfer your data, and then reinstall the OS.
I suggest computer newbies try it on their own, and then if you just can’t do it and nothing works, pay the money. There is nothing wrong with trying. Here’s what you need to do.
Step 1. You can try to remove the virus yourself. How so? Try using an offline virus scan tool. Obviously if you are reading this post, you cannot perform real-time scans in Windows for some reason. Check out my post on Performing Offline Virus Scanning, which basically checks for viruses before the operating system boots.
Some programs work better with viruses than others. If you cannot get rid of the virus with the standalone Window Defender tool I referred to above, you can try others like BitDefender Rescue CD or Rescue USB It has a detailed guide on how to boot it, create a CD, etc. Of course, you need to do this on another computer first and then use the CD / USB stick on the infected PC.
Another good offline virus scanning tool is Kaspersky Rescue Disk The site has full instructions on how to create a disc and how to use it to remove viruses. If you can follow the instructions, you can do it yourself, even if you are not very good at computers.
Step 2. If you cannot get rid of the virus, the only way out is to reinstall Windows. There are usually two problems in this scenario, the first is that you need to copy important data, and the second is that you may not have the original DVD that came with your computer.
However, both of these problems can be solved inexpensively. The first is copying data from the hard drive. If you have a virus that is preventing you from booting Windows, the only way to get the data is by using a hard drive dock.
Luckily, I wrote a detailed article on what a hard drive docking station is, which one to buy, and how it works. It’s very simple, and if you know how to connect a USB drive to your computer, you can use a hard drive docking station. This will allow you to copy data from your hard drive without booting Windows. This will require you to remove your hard drive, which may or may not interfere with the deal. In the end, I noticed that most manufacturers’ websites have complete guides that you can download that show you how to add or remove hardware components.
Second, what about the original DVD? This is not a problem either. If you don’t have one, you can download the official and legal Windows OS ISOs to your computer and then burn them to DVD. Please note that these are not illegal or pirated copies, but legal copies that must be activated with a valid product key. If you don’t have a product key, this is just a 30-day trial.
The two links above provide links to download Windows 7 ISO images from DigitalRiver, Microsoft’s official partner from which you can buy Windows. In our case, you just need the version of Windows installed on your computer, and then you install Windows and use the product key found on the back of your computer.
You can also read my previous posts on how to burn an ISO image on a Mac or how to burn an ISO image on a PC To reinstall Windows, you need to boot from the DVD and follow the installation instructions. Read my previous post on 10 Essential Skills for Windows Users and read # 10. You might have to google a little to reinstall Windows if you’ve never done it before, but it’s really not that bad if you take the time.
Hard disk and memory
Hard disk and memory
Other serious problems are a bad hard drive or bad memory. If you have been diagnosed with this diagnosis, you can run a few tests yourself to confirm their claims. Let’s talk about hard drives first. If your hard drive fails or crashes completely, then there must be errors on it.
You can check your hard drive for errors with the various free programs I mention in the linked post. One of the tools mentioned in my article is SeaTools, which can again be downloaded as an ISO image, burned to a CD and then booted from there. It may sound daunting, but if you follow the links above about burning ISO images and booting from CD / DVD you should be fine.
For memory, you can also do the same as for checking the hard drive. Check out my previous post on tools to check for bad memory. I highly recommend Memtest86, which can be downloaded and burned to CD. This method allows you to check your hard drive and memory without having to boot Windows, which is good if Windows won’t boot.
Finally, if you really need to replace your hard drive or memory chip, you need to buy spare parts. Read my post on the best places to buy computer parts online I highly recommend Crucial.com as it allows you to select the exact model of your computer and then tell you exactly which memory and hard drive are compatible with that system. You don’t have to worry about buying the wrong memory module or the wrong hard drive.
The last part, and probably the most terrifying part for a beginner, is setting up a computer piece like a hard drive or memory. If you have a laptop, I can say that it is much simpler than a desktop computer. Desktop computers can sometimes be a little tricky due to the case, motherboard location and ports, etc. If you are having problems with your laptop, you can actually do it yourself, because laptops are mostly designed to be was easy to upgrade.
My main suggestion at this stage is to do one of two things: either try it yourself if you feel you can do it, or just hire someone local to do it. If you go to Dell.com, Sony.com, HP.com, or any other site for your manufacturer, you can find a support page where you can enter your model number and download PDF manuals for your PC. They usually tell you how to open your computer and add / replace components.
If you just can’t do it yourself, I suggest posting an ad on Craigslist, or just search for a local computer repair technician on Google Local or Yahoo Local. Call them and tell them that you just need them to install new hardware. It really should cost no more than $ 50. This is usually a very simple procedure, so don’t let anyone charge you more than $ 50.
Hopefully this guide can give you some inspiration and confidence in your ability to solve your computer problem. It may sound and look intimidating, but with a little time and effort, you can literally save hundreds of dollars. Let us know what you think in the comments. Enjoy!