Repair or replace an old computer?

Although we do a ton of computer repair in Lawrence, you’d be surprised how often we turn away computers.  Sometimes it’s just not worth repairing!  I hate to talk myself out of work, but sometimes it’s the right thing to do.

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After Three Years, Trouble Starts

After doing this for almost 30 years now, I’ve seen the lifespan of computers.  In the early days, computers cost a small fortune but lasted for a decade.  Now, we see them last about three years.  A good analogy is three years on a computer is like a car with 100,000 miles.  Not all cars fail at that point, but many start having troubles.  Part of it depends on usage and brand, but everything has a lifespan.  Some things last longer, some last shorter, but there’s always an average.

What Goes Wrong?

The Hard Drive

The most common part we replace after three years is the hard drive.  That makes sense because it has moving parts.  Parts wear out.  Some drives fail after two years and some after four, but three is the average.

While we have tests to determine if the hard drive is failing, the user is the best early warning system.  In these situations, the computer just randomly locks up and doesn’t respond. In a healthy hard drive, the activity indicator on the drive flashes. On a computer with a failing drive, the light stays lit.  The indicator is sold because it keeps trying to use the hard drive but fails.  You’ll sometimes hear a clicking or grinding noise but not always.

We can’t repair failing hard drives because they are sealed units.  We can replace them though.  Usually it’s about an hour of labor to remove the drive, put in a new one, and then install your operating system.  Reinstalling programs, configuring printers, and transferring your data takes extra time.

The Power:  Batteries, Power Jacks, and Power Supplies

If you have a laptop, eventually your battery fails.  It’s just like any other battery.  You can find cheap laptop batteries under $50, but we don’t recommend them.  We’ve seen too many leaking or exploding batteries in our travels.  Some airlines have proposed banning laptops because of exploding batteries. That’s like the ban of the Samsung Galaxy phone.  A quality replacement battery (we don’t sell them directly), is about $75.

The other part to go out on a laptop is the charging port.  It loosens up over time after being plugged and unplugged so often.  The replacement inside the computer is easy.  The hard part is taking the laptop apart and putting it back together.  It usually takes about an hour and the parts are usually about $25.

When a power surge hits a desktop computer, the power supply goes out.  That’s by design. It acts as a kind of circuit-breaker to prevent damage to other parts of the computer or to stop a fire.  Computer manufacturers don’t make it easy to find power supplies.  Each computer seems to take a slightly different one of these.  We often have to look through dozens of different types.  They range in price from $25 to $75.  To install them we basically have to rebuild the computer.  That takes about an hour.

Fans Stop Blowing

Computers run hot, so to cool them, manufacturers put in fans.  They have fans on the processor, on the video card, in the power supply in the case and a few other places I’m probably forgetting.  Each of those fans collects dust and debris from the environment.  If you smoke or have pets, the damage to the fans multiplies.  When the computer overheats it can shut down, or in rare cases, cause a fire.

We can replace those fans, but again, we need to find the right fan.  You’d think it would be easy to find, but it isn’t.  The other complex problem is figuring out which fan is failing.  We often have to replace multiple fans in a system.  Once one starts making noise, they typically all start doing it.  That makes sense since they all have the same moving parts subject to wear and tear and environmental hazards.

Keyboard, Trackpads and Screens

This problem is unique to laptops.  Eventually the more you type and click, the more things wear out.  Keyboard are usually easier to replace than trackpads.  Both wear out though and we need to disassemble and reassemble your laptop.  Since clicking and typing go hand in hand, pardon the pun, we often see that both need to be replaced at the same time.

Screens also have a limited lifespan. They’re like TV screens so they’ll stop being able to light up after a while.  That’s usually after about seven years, though. Newer laptops aren’t supposed to have these problems, but we’ll see.  We’re seeing fewer screens burning out, but it happens.

Is It Worth Repairing?

Given all these problems after three years, any one replacement might be worth it.  The problem is that actual value of a three-year old laptop is pretty small.  We’ve had clients try to sell working ones at garage sales and they can’t even get $50 for them.  After five years, they can’t even get $10.  If you look on eBay, you’ll find the same story.  If everything is working, you can expect to pay $50 for these systems.

The problem becomes, even if they are working, you can expect all this stuff to start failing. That’s why we never recommend paying for a used laptop without at least a year warranty.  Too much stuff could go wrong.

With new laptops averaging about $500 and all the repairs associated with a three year old laptop, repairs just aren’t usually worth it.  Most repair shops won’t tell you this, but it’s the right thing to let you know about.  It’s also why we have great reviews.  Some people get upset we decline to fix this stuff, but again it’s the right thing to do.  We’re in this for the long haul and will always try to do what is tin the customer’s best interest.  Sure we lose money with this approach, but we gain client loyalty.  That’s the key to long-term success and why we’ve been in business since 2003.

We’ll keep doing computer repair here in Lawrence, but occasionally we’ll tell you it isn’t worth it!

Photo by ardenswayoflife

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Don’t Trust Free Diagnostics Scans (Except Ours on Fridays)

We’ve been offering Free Friday diagnostics at our Lawrence computer repair office. Our motivation for was to prevent our clients from getting taken in by scams.  Recently, a TV news station caught Office Depot using their repair service to scam customers.  These free scams take different forms, but they’re all out to get your money.

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The Bait:  A Free Checkup

Even a new computer can have problems out of the box, so who can resist a free checkup? You want the peace of mind everything is going to work right. You want your computing experience to be problem free.  If you’re having a problem, these programs will identify it and suggest some fixes.  Simple enough.  That’s true not just for shops like Office Depot, but free online scans.  A simple program tells you what’s wrong with your computer and optimizes it.

The Switch:  Something is Wrong/It’s Gonna Cost You

This scam isn’t new to the computer industry.  The car industry has been doing the “we found something wrong” scam for decades. These scams pretend to show you all sorts of problems with your computer.  Since you’re not technical, you have no way of disputing this.  Oh no.  Malware!  Bad drivers!  Foreign IPs!  That’s all going to cost you.  Suddenly that free diagnostics turns out to be expensive.  The technician makes a commission on the sale and offers to sell you a variety of products.

Why Our Free Diagnostics Are Different

Since there are so many scam diagnostics out there, we’re offering this as a service to the community.  Just stop in on Fridays, no appointment necessary.  We’ve invested in some great software for the Mac and PC to help us diagnose problems.  When you stop in, we’ll run the software. Then we’ll give you some suggestions to optimize performance.  We’ll even fix some basic stuff we see at no charge.  We’re not going to upsell you.  For most clients, we’re just getting a baseline so we can help you in the future.  With your permission, we’ll also install some software that allows you to get remote support from us in the future.  That saves you money over our standard office visit or onsite computer repair.

These diagnostics check for basic hardware and software problems . They also give you an early warning system for other hazards.  We’ll make sure your antivirus is working and your backup system is up to date.  If you have a backup system, we’ll check that at no charge.  These diagnostics take about 15 minutes. You’re welcome to leave your computer there for some advanced screening.

We’re Here to Help You

Our technicians are not commission based.  Quite the opposite.  We’re not a retail operation, so we don’t have much to sell.  We don’t sell computers, we don’t stock upgrades, and we don’t have ongoing services to sell you.  We do computer repair in Lawrence as well as Topeka, and Kansas City.

Our goal is to keep you up and running.  If we find something wrong, you’re welcome to have us fix it at our standard rate.  However, some clients are fixing it themselves after getting advice from us.  Sometimes we tell you it just isn’t worth fixing based on the age of the system.  If you read our Google reviews, you’ll see that as a common theme.

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Should You Worry About the Repeal of FCC Privacy Protections?

This past week, lots of clients in Lawrence have asked DoctorDave Computer Repair about the privacy of their internet connection.  They’re asking if they should get a Virtual Private Network (VPN) or another  method of protection. Our short answer is “not much has changed”, but we’re always for privacy.

Please

When you cut through the ad-selling media hype (ironic!), these changes are all about ads.  Right now, companies like Facebook and Google give you free stuff.  In exchange for that free stuff, you see ads paid for by advertisers.  That’s their business model.

I’m not ashamed to say we benefit from that model.  We sell ads on both Facebook and Google.  Those companies let us hyper-target our ads.  We’re not advertising computer repair to the world – just Lawrence, Topeka and Kansas City.  We can go so far as advertising to older clients, with Macs, who went to KU, and probably voted for a particular candidate.  Anything you search for or click on becomes part of your ad profile. As a business owner, I prefer that model over placing an ad in a newspaper or a billboard that gets seen by people we’re not interested in helping with their computers.

Thus, on that level, it seems weird that Google as a search engine company can sell targeted ads but Google as an Internet Service Provider can’t.  Amazon can suggest products based on your browsing history, but AT&T can’t?  It’s the same browser and same computer.

Don’t get me wrong.  We’re huge advocates of privacy.  We’d gladly place a billboard on 23rd street saying “Call us for Lawrence computer repair” to advertise our services instead of targeted ads.  However, that’s not the way the world works right now.  I’d love to see privacy protections put in place and even sharper restrictions against tracking and advertising.  We take the privacy of our client information seriously here.

So back to the question..should you worry?  I’d say you shouldn’t be any more worried today than you were before October of 2016 when these rules were first adopted.  If you’re concerned about your privacy, the first thing to do is to stop giving companies like Facebook and Google information about you.  If you use a VPN to get to Facebook, you’re not doing much more for your privacy.  VPNs can also cause glitches and slow downs in your browsing experience.

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We’ll set up a VPN for you, and we’ve already started doing more of these for clients. We just want you to know it’s not going to advance the ball much further for your privacy.  You’re still being tracked by the websites you go to and the companies you do business with.  For example, switching to DuckDuckGo for searches instead of a Google is a huge step forward for your privacy.  Using a private mail server (election politics aside) keeps third parties like Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft from seeing your stuff.  A VPN is part of a comprehensive strategy to create a more private internet experience regardless of FCC or FTC protections.  Instead of spending money with us, consider giving that money to the Electronic Frontier Foundation. They lobby on behalf of internet privacy daily.

Photos by hykucambodia4kidsorg

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Come Join the Best of Lawrence Fun This Year

We’re excited to support the Best of Lawrence contest this year, and in particular the computer repair category.  Last year, we had some huge concerns about the contest. Those concerns were met with resistance and profanity (I had to delete some comments!)  This year, not only were we listened to, but the Lawrence Journal-World created a privacy policy that met ALL our concerns.  Read on for the details.

VOTE

In 2017, we don’t need to explain the importance of voting.  With the recent presidential elections and all the controversies, voting has a charged meaning.  Best of Lawrence is more like a contest than an election, even if they use the same word for entering. This year Best of Lawrence is allowing people to enter every day, much like any other contest.  Yup, you can pick one business every day and give them 28 entries in the contest. That makes it clear to players you aren’t voting, but entering a business into a competition.

After a Twitter chat that eventually went to email, the members of the Best of Lawrence team addressed all the concerns local businesses like mine had in the past.  In particular

*Neither advertising nor news staff should have access to entries in advance

*Birthdays are used only to comply with Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)

*Data obtained in the contest is not sold to third parties nor advertisers

These three distinctions were why we opted out of the contest last year, which is ironic because we placed second in our category.  As computer support professionals, we respect our client’s privacy.  That privacy is a chief concern during any computer repair appointment. We see tons of privileged information on a computer and go to great lengths to protect that information.  As such, we couldn’t support a contest that could put our clients at risk.  These protections include both our residential clients as well as our business clients.

This year Nick Gerick of the Lawrence Journal-World told me that sales staff do not have access to contest results until they’re announced to the public.  That new policy prevents the sales staff from having any conflicts of interest.  The ads they sell will be independent of the contest results.  That’s a huge step forward in preventing undue influence of advertising on reporting.  Let’s face it, with sponsored stories and fake news, we need to be able to trust what we read.  If a member of the sales staff can influence an outcome in a contest, that calls into question the integrity of the company.  I don’t think people would intentionally try to change the outcome, but conflicts of interests are by definition suspicious.  If someone could gain by an outcome, they shouldn’t be involved in determining the outcome.  This new policy prevents businesses being indirectly influenced into paying for ads.  Even if you pay for a 10-page spread in the magazine, the sales staff won’t know or change the outcome of the contest.

My other concern, which was addressed by the Best of Lawrence, was how individual data would be used.  While Facebook and Google try to anonymize data, my concern with the Best of Lawrence was a lack of transparency on how they would use the data.  Your name, zip code and birthday along with what you consider the Best of Lawrence are private.  You don’t want that information to be sold to advertisers or read by reporters.  Wouldn’t it be creepy to suddenly get a coupon on your birthday to your favorite restaurant (or their competitor)?  Or what if the newspaper reported that your business’s employees didn’t think you’re the best.  That’s a huge embarrassment to any business.  That’s why your entries need to be private.

With the clearly stated privacy policy that we advocated for, your information remains protected.  You’re welcome to opt-in to newsletters (I’m a fan of Chad’s Town Talk), but beyond that, your information is protected from being used by advertisers (including the Journal-World), writers, or any third party.  In other words, your entry in the contest remains just an entry in a contest.

Another new feature this year is you get to enter a business once a day in the contest.  That makes it clear this isn’t a true “election” nor a scientific survey.  It also means you don’t have to put in all your entries on the same day.  If you have a great experience at a business, you can vote for them without having to change your previous entries.

This competition is all about the fun of entering and winning.  On Twitter, Lawrence Magazine described it as each day a new inning in the contest.  Each person gets 28 entries in the contest:  each day they can put in a new ballot with the same information.  That means you can vote for us or other businesses 28 times this month!

Best of Lawrence and the Journal-World went out of their way to address the privacy concerns I had with the contest.  Now that we think it’s safe for our clients, we’d love your entry each day in the contest.  We’re going to provide great computer repair service to Lawrence even if we don’t place.  We know we’re always the winner with great clients and a great team of technicians to support you.

Here’s’ the link to vote in our category!

Photo by antisocialtory

We Help Contribute to The Sales Tax Numbers

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The Journal-World recently that Lawrence had the “best tax growth in the state.”  While much of this was due to construction, I’m glad we played a small part in that.

I’m proud to say we collect sales tax on behalf of the state. Not every business, especially in the computer repair industry, does that. We’re professionals and proud of it.  We use Kansas’s destination based sales tax model to look up how much we’re supposed to charge.  Each month I go in and post a report to the Department of Revenue and return the money we collected from our clients. Much like other aspects of my business, it’s the right thing to do.

I know we’re not the cheapest in town for computer repair. However, I think we’re the best and the reviews back that statement up.  New clients tell me all the time that the person who they used before didn’t charge them sales tax.  It happens so often, I have a template on how to respond to that. That previous computer repair company was required to collect sales tax. In theory, they might have absorbed that cost (coffee shops do that), but it’s unlikely.  Most people who do this part time don’t collect sales tax.  When clients pay cash, some companies won’t “charge” sales tax.  I put “charge” in quotes because you’re not charging the customer. You’re collecting money on behalf of the state.  Kansas is charging, you’re just collecting that on their behalf.  When you work with us, we clearly mark on the receipt how much sales tax we’re collecting

When you use a service that doesn’t collect sales tax, you’re hurting your community.  Taxes are there for a reason.  Moreover, when you use a company that doesn’t collect tax you’re dealing with a business that isn’t fully honest with the state.  Is that the type of business you want working on your computer?

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Our Policy Towards Password Resets and Password Recovery

One popular question we get at DoctorDave Computer Repair in Lawrence is “Can you recover my password?” Many times it’s an innocent problem, but we always play it safe.

Keys on Keyboard

Photo by IntelFreePress – http://flic.kr/p/dxdmTX

Why Do You Get Locked Out of Your Computer?

The most common reason is plain forgetfulness. You haven’t used it in a few months and you just forgot the password.  Sometimes it’s a glitch in the computer. Maybe your keyboard isn’t working or Windows has a virus. We even see when you change your password on your iPhone; it changes your Mac’s password.

What If You Need Access, But Don’t Have the Password

Just because you own the computer, doesn’t mean you’re the main user. You could have given the computer to the kids or your employees. If you need something on the computer, those people might not give you the password. Ouch! Unfortunately, we’ll often have to deal with the computer of a person who passed away. Our client needs access to close out the owner’s affairs.

What We Need For Password Resets

We treat all clients equally. No matter how trustworthy you seem, we need your name to match the username on the computer. If they’re the same, we’ll use the methods we have to remove the password. If the names don’t match, then we’ll need a few more things:

1.)        A receipt for the computer that matches your name. If it’s obvious you own the computer we can stop asking other questions.For example, if you bought it for your child, and we’re resetting that child’s account. If it is a business computer, then we need an email from the company that you’re authorized to reset the password.

2.)        If the computer owner passed away, we need a document that lists you as the executor of the estate.

3.)        If it’s for someone of diminished mental capacity (an elderly parent for example), then we need Power of Attorney.

Why Are We So Difficult?

We’re ethically hacking into a computer, so we have to be careful. The obvious reason we hesitate is we don’t want to help a thief. It’s not always that. A spouse wants us to see what the husband or wife is doing on the computer. An employee might want to see what is on the boss’s computer. We’ve encountered both those situations in the past.

Most people who are asking us to reset a password for legal reasons are happy to meet our guidelines. Some clients thank us for asking this information. After all, they want to make sure their stuff is secure.

When a client gives us grief or is offensive on the phone, we call the police.  If “something doesn’t seem right,” we call the police. Most of the time the concern is a false alarm. The laptop isn’t reported as stolen, so we proceed based on our guidelines. One time we called and in fact, the computer was stolen, and we gave the contact info to the police. Due to privacy, they couldn’t tell us the details, beyond that the computer made it back to the rightful owner.

That one incident made it worth the hurdles we give everyone for a password reset.

What to Do When Your ISP has an Outage

WOW aka Knology or Wow and soon to be MIDCO had a major outage recently.  Outages are disappointing, but can be expected.  Nothing works right all the time.

Is it You or Them? The Power Cycle Dance

Photo by Sean MacEntee – http://flic.kr/p/fQoVsh

When you can’t get online, you’ll always want to do a few standard things in this order:

  1. Shutdown your computer. Not just put it to sleep, but pick the Shutdown command on your operating system.
  2. If you have a router, unplug the power to the router.
  3. Unplug the power to your cable modem.

Wait about a minute and reverse the process:

  1. Plug in the power to the cable modem.
  2. After about a minute, plug back in the power to the router, if you have one.
  3. After about a minute, turn on the computer.

If you still can’t get online, now’s the time to see if there is an outage.

How to See if Your ISP is the Problem

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If you have a smartphone, the best way is social media.  See if other people are reporting a problem on Facebook or Twitter.  To use your phone or tablet, you might have to turn off wi-fi.  Another great spot to check is the website DownDetector.  Downdetector has an iPhone app too.  They aggregate reports of other people complaining about outages.

Ultimately, you’ll probably need to call your ISP if you’re still early in the outage.  It could be just in your neighborhood.  The longer the hold times, the more likely it isn’t your computer.  I’d wait at least half an hour before calling your ISP.  Try the power cycle dance (above) one more time.  If it doesn’t work, then call them.

It’s Them:  Now What?

Mooch off the Neighbors?

Can I borrow a cup of wi-fi?  If you can see your neighbor’s router, you might ask to use it for a little while.  Ask them for the password, but don’t be shocked if they don’t give it to you.  While I like my neighbors, I don’t want them on my network.  They could see some personal and private stuff.  Anyone who has a key to my house though would be welcome to use my wi-fi. None of my neighbors have a key.

If your neighbor has wi-fi without a password (or if it’s a business), you might use that in a pinch.  If you use unsecured wi-fi, other people on the network could see what you’re doing, so be careful.

Tether With Your Phone aka Hotspot Mode

Most Android and iOS devices let you share the cellular connection with computers. The exact instructions depend on the version of the phone you have.  Usually you just turn on the Personal Hotspot and create a network name and password.  Then connect your computer to that network.

That configuration could kill your data plan, so only use it for stuff you absolutely need. For example, you might need to email an important document from your desktop.

If you have a smartphone, most of the critical stuff can be done on that using your cellular connection. Avoid data intensive stuff like streaming music or videos.

Wait it Out

Photo by Lima Pix – http://flic.kr/p/oYfzwS

The human race survived for thousands of years without internet and we’ll survive this outage.  It sounds dismissive, but it’s important to put this into perspective.  If it’s an ISP outage, you aren’t alone.  Eventually,  they’ll solve it.  They want you to get back online as soon as possible.  Getting upset won’t resolve it.  Front line customer service reps can’t fix it and are probably having a terrible day.

Refunds?

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Unlikely.  At best, your ISP will give you a prorated refund.  If you contact them and wait on hold, they can give you a credit equal to the time you lost.  That calculates to 1/30th of your bill.  If you’re bill is $100, you can coax them into a refund of about $3.00 or maybe they’ll round up to $5.00.  That doesn’t translate into much return on investment for your time.

Special Consideration: Businesses

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At DoctorDave Computer Repair we have lots of business clients that run credit cards.  You don’t want to tell your customers you can’t take credit cards.  Similarly, you don’t want to take the risk of keeping card numbers until you get online.  That will get you in trouble with your merchant processing and puts your customers at risk.

Most Point of Sale (POS) systems let you capture transactions offline.  That’s great for an outage of a few minutes.  The problem with offline transactions is you can’t verify if the funds are there to pay for the item.  If it’s an overdrawn debit card or a credit card over the limit (or stolen), you’re on the hook.

Tethering your smartphone to an entire point of sale system is tricky.  I recommend using Square in these instances.  We use Square for our credit card processing.  What’s nice about Square is there isn’t a monthly fee for the service, you pay only for what you use.  You’ll probably pay more for a transaction compared to your regular merchant services account, but at least you won’t be turning away customers or taking big risks.

Some of our clients have portable hotspots or a “mi-fi” to supplement their existing ISP.  If they’re having an outage at their POS, they can switch to this service. There’ a monthly fee for these devices, but that extra $15 or so a month might be worth it.

Should You Switch ISPs?

Photo by JeepersMedia – http://flic.kr/p/osAZTR

Probably not.  All ISPs have outages.  It does seem like Lawrence’s WOW service has more outages than others.  Here at DoctorDave Computer Repair, we get about the same number or reports of AT&T problems and WOW problems.

With AT&T, you usually have to get the equipment from them, so about 50% of the time it’s a failed modem.  With WOW, you can buy one locally and replace the cable modem.  With AT&T, you can’t always do that.

We love Wicked and have it at our office in Lawrence.  They’re focused on business service and aren’t expanding further into residential markets.

What about Google Fiber in Lawrence?

Photo by mjmonty – http://flic.kr/p/6wumx7

Unlikely.  I was invited by the city to discuss the quality of internet here in Lawrence and our options.  I also spoke at city commission meetings regarding the issues. I’m a computer repair person, not a politician.  However I understand the major stumbling block is how much the city will charge an ISP to use city equipment to run the lines. It’s too expensive for an ISP to tear up people’s yards (and who wants that?), so they want to use pipes the city has.

So What’s the Answer?

Photo by West Midlands Police – http://flic.kr/p/cGnABd

Again, I’m not a politician, but I think we need to get the government involved. I’d love the city to take on the role of an ISP or work on a public/private partnership.  ISPs don’t have a financial incentive to provide better service.  In cities with Google Fiber, the ISPs step up their game and provide faster service.

If our city doesn’t take on that role, then the FCC might have to set minimum quality standards. The FCC could set penalties for outages. Right now, the city has that power but has declined to exercise the franchise authority powers.

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Should You Install Windows 10? No!

When Windows 10 came out, we advised clients to wait on the upgrade. The product was new and Windows 10 had lots of glitches. Microsoft fixed a bunch of these problems and Windows 10 is now reliable. That doesn’t mean you should upgrade your Windows 8 or Windows 7 computer to Windows 10.

Why Shouldn’t I?

We tend to hear mostly about the problems with Windows 10, so we’re basing our opinion on issues client tell us. We’re almost always able to resolve these problems, but that comes at a cost to the customer. That free upgrade turns out to cost money if you need us to fix your computer.

What Type of Problems Should I Expect?

The most common problems we see are related to email. Your sunflower.com email stops working. The Windows 10 setup needs a little tweaking. Microsoft might push its own email program or your old program forgets the password.

Microsoft also promotes the new Edge browser instead of Internet Explorer. Edge looks different and doesn’t work in all situations. Windows 10 might push you to Edge instead of Firefox or Chrome. We fix this all the time, but it’s annoying to a customer.

Older printers and scanners don’t always work in Windows 10. Sometimes it needs reconfiguration but other times it just won’t do it. We spend the most time with clients in this area. That free upgrade now requires a paid purchase of a new printer.

Finally, we have a catch-all category of incompatibility or glitches. Most of the time Windows 7 or 8 had an underlying problem that Windows 10 made worse.

What If I Upgraded to Windows 10 Already? Should I Go Back?

Microsoft gives you 30 days to try out Windows 10. If you don’t like it, you can go back to Windows 7 or 8. We advise against that. We see just as many glitches moving forward to Windows 10 as we do going back. If Windows 10 is working, leave it alone. There isn’t a need to go back. We can fix those Windows 10 problems for you. If we can’t, then that is the time to go back.

If you don’t like something in Windows 10, we can usually offer some suggestions of tweaks and optimizations.

Learning a New Operating System

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Windows 10 is a big jump from Windows 7. Windows 8 is a minor jump from Windows 7. Clients tell us that it is frustrating trying to learn something new. Fortunately, our local library offers free online learning through Lynda.com and offers some great books on the subject. If you’ve moved to Windows 10, I recommend trying some of the free learning options.

I Have to Decide by July 29th, Right?

Yes, if you want to get it free, you’ll need to do this by July 29th. After that, you’ll have to pay for the upgrade. This should be your deciding factor.

If your computer is working, I suggest leaving it alone. If your computer didn’t come with Windows 10, it is probably at least a year old. Computers last on average 3-5 years. Once the hard drive goes out, clients decide it’s more cost-effective to replace a system rather than repair it. Your new computer is going to come with Windows 10, so Microsoft made that decision easier.

If you’re concerned Microsoft will discontinue support for Windows 7, you’re right, they will. Currently, they set the date to January 14, 2020. Your computer will probably fail before then.

What If I Want to Upgrade?

Go for it. You’ll eventually get a computer with Windows 10, so you might want to learn it now. You should be backing up your data anyway, but just in case, do a full backup beforehand. We can help with the backups.

Then run a quick malware scan to make sure nothing will get in the way of the upgrade, then upgrade away. I suggest doing this on a Sunday night. That way you won’t be distracted and you can always call support the next morning if you have problems. Assume you’ll have problems so don’t do this before a deadline, especially a deadline that needs something printed.

How Can You Help Me, Dave?

lawrence computer repair app

Our App in the app store

We can help you through every step of the process, usually for free. Use our free DoctorDave app to send us an email, or just do it the old-fashioned way by calling us. If it requires a service call, we can schedule it right then. We can fix your printer issues, your email issues, and move you back to an earlier version of Windows if need be.

Clients like Windows 10 once they get through the problems. I encourage you to get it on a new computer. It isn’t like Windows 8 that everyone hated, but it is different than Windows 7.

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Posted in Tips by dgreenbaum. No Comments

Free Car Chargers and The new DoctorDave iPhone App

It has taken us a few years, but we finally have a DoctorDave Computer Repair app for our clients in Lawrence, Topeka and Kansas City. Although the app works anywhere in the US, our focus is here at home.

 

lawrence computer repair app
 

What Does it Do?

 

It makes it easier for you to request service and get free support. When you install the free app through this link on your iPhone or iPad, you’ll get this welcoming screen.
 

Find Our Info Easily

 
When things aren’t working, you want quick answers. Many clients have our number programmed into the phone. If you forget (or didn’t program) our number click the phone icon in the upper right-hand corner.

doctordavephone

Next to that icon is the standard location icon indicator. That tells you how to get to our office. Handy when you have a scheduled office appointment

 

doctordave location

 

Finally on the left-hand side of the word “DoctorDave” is a picture of the world, and you guessed it, that takes you to our site on the world wide web.

 

web
 

Ask For Help

 
A picture is worth a thousand words and, in our case, a great diagnostic tool. When you have a problem with your computer, tap the Ask For Help icon. If it is your first time using it, the app will ask some key info like Name, Email, and Phone. That way we can respond to you. Tap continue to save that info.

Then describe your problem. The more details, the better. After all, we’re your computer doctor. We need symptoms to give you a diagnosis. Then tap Continue.

askforhelp

sentemail

 

Now comes the interesting part. You’ll need to give the app permission to a few things. Location makes sure, among other things, you’re in our service area. Tap Allow on that. When you tap the middle of the screen, you get to take a picture. This step is optional, but I recommend it for most problems. Yes, you’ll need to give permission to camera and pictures. All these permission checks are one time things. Don’t worry; we’re not looking at your pictures. We just need access to the pic you just took from within the app.

 

photopermissioncamerapermissioncamera2

Tap send and your email goes to our general mailbox for support. We try to respond within four business hours, but often much sooner. Tap Return to Main Screen to continue.

return

 

My Notebook

 

This feature lets you track key information. You might put in the serial number of your computer and warranty information. If you want to remove any information these existing ideas, tap Edit and then the minus icon to remove an option. If you want to add new entries, tap the plus icon in the lower right hand corner.

notebook

This notebook isn’t the place to put secure passwords, but some people we know like to store wifi passwords for their home or coffee shop.

 

DIY Help

 

This feature is almost as cool as the picture function. In this section, I’ll add useful information and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). I edit this content often but right now the top things are

 

    • Contact info for local Internet Service Providers and Email settings
    • The support phone numbers for other companies
    • What to do in certain situations like when you get a call from tech support, your computer gets wet, or you think you have a virus

May_22__2016_at_0421PM

I’ll add content as needed here to save local residents time and money. If your computer isn’t working, it isn’t easy to look up this information from a reliable source.

Free Charger

Here is where the fun comes in. To promote our new app and encourage usage, we’re giving away a free iPhone car charger to anyone who installs the app.

charger

All you need to do is install the app and send us a message. We’ll schedule a time for you to pick up your charger. If you just want to stop by, let us know too. We’ll be available on Monday afternoons for the next few weeks at our office at 4105 West Sixth Street, Suite B-6. We always suggest calling first and verifying we’re there. We might be out fixing computers as on-site computer repair is our primary focus.

 

Enjoy the app and let us know what you think. A huge thanks to our former technician Noah Benham for designing the app. He’s available for other app development.

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Posted in Business Tips by dgreenbaum. 6 Comments

Protecting Your Business Page on Facebook

Although we aren’t social media consultants, we find that Facebook problems are part of the computer repair business here in Lawrence, Kansas. Often these problems are hacks, hijacking, or vandalism of a web page. For many businesses, a Facebook page is a key way to interact with customers and promote their business. They’re devastated by a Facebook loss.

Photo by Cle0patra - http://flic.kr/p/9h1yJU

Photo by Cle0patra

Typical Problems

 

Page Disappearing

One day you go to your typical link for your business and the page is gone. Facebook may give a reason like “the page is suspended.” Most of the time it just says the page isn’t there. All your pictures, reviews, and customer base is gone. Obviously if you violated the terms of service, you’ll be shut down. If you created a profile for your business in Facebook rather than a page, a member may report you and you’ll lose your content.

Inappropriate Content

This problem isn’t the stuff other people post on your page; you can delete that. This is content that appears to be from you, except it’s not. Sexually explicit pictures are the thing people think about the most. Those type of problems are pretty rare. More common, I see things like an insult of an employee, a customer, or a political statement. Those do more long term damage to a business reputation than pornography. Facebook members know that if you’re a local restaurant, you’re not going to post genitalia. If the post mentions a difficult employee or a health issue, diners might think twice about going back. After all, could there be a grain of truth in there?

Locked Out

In this situation, the page is there, but you can’t post or change content. You expect to see the “write something” prompt, but it’s gone. If you try to delete a post, the option is gone. This situation could be in connection with the inappropriate content. You see something bad and you want to delete it but you can’t.

Who Does This?

 

Sometimes the business will have a disgruntled employee or an employee with a poor sense of humor. Other times the situation comes up with a competitor trying to get an edge. Most of the time though I see it as just a glitch. Facebook has a problem and, for a period your business page is wonky. Facebook could have removed your page for violating certain guidelines, especially intellectual property.

A traditional hacker isn’t likely to attack your business page. There’s not much value for them in posting stuff. It’s a whole lot of work for a small return on investment. These are the type of calls we get involved in while doing computer repair.

Typical and Common Ways You Get Hacked

Photo by JGD JGD - http://flic.kr/p/HgScr

Photo by JGD

You Left The Account Unattended and Logged In

We’ve all seen where a friend borrows a mobile phone and posts something silly on your wall. Ah, you left your phone on the table while you went to the restroom. It’s silly and innocent. You probably leave it up because everyone gets a laugh from it.

With a business it is different, not everyone understands your friend’s sense of humor. An innocent post might be seen differently by your customers. The post was taken out of context.

If the content is malicious or blatantly inappropriate, anyone who had access to your computer or mobile phone could have done this. When your computer or phone are missing, the last thing you probably think about is what you’re logged into.

A Password Was Compromised

This hack can take a few different forms. If you use the same password a variety of places, a breach in one place could cause a breach somewhere else. We all know about the big hacks like Target and Adobe, but breaches happen every day and aren’t reported for weeks later.

Another way someone gets your password is you accidentally give it to them. This could be you wrote it down and someone saw it. Keeping your password on a sticky note under the keyboard is not a safe place. Consider a password manager like 1Password or LastPass. A confusing email or phone call might convince you to give up your password through a phishing or social engineering attempt.

The scariest password problems are those that are part of a coordinated targeted attack. For example, someone contacts your web service provider and convinces them to reset your email password. Once they get access to your email password, they get access to your Facebook password reset functions. Then they get to your Facebook page. You can’t get into either your Facebook or your email. These situations we help clients out with.

While it’s a good idea to change your password, keeping around an old password doesn’t put you at greater risk. If it’s unique, hard to guess, and secure, the mere fact it’s older isn’t the problem. Don’t rush out at change your password immediately at the first sign of trouble. You might be over-reacting at best. At worst, someone is trying to trick you into releasing the password.

The Page Wasn’t Yours to Begin With

This scenario is the one that surprises business owners. You search for your business and start interacting with customers. You figure you own the page, but you don’t. The page could have been created by one of your customers or auto-generated by Facebook.

What To Do When Your Business Page is Hacked

If there is inappropriate content on your page, first try to delete it. Just because someone vandalized the page, doesn’t mean you’re hacked. A common thing I see is a spammer posting content on your page. As long as you can delete it, the problem is resolved. If the person wasn’t connected to your page before, consider banning them. If they were already connected, think twice before banning a suspected spammer. That so-called spammer might be a victim. Your fan’s page could have been hacked. After you delete the post, report the victim as a spammer and inform Facebook the account might have been hacked.

If your account was hacked, Facebook has a great help section on the topic. In particular page’s that are hacked and how to get back your Facebook account. Here is where you can file a report. If you hadn’t claimed the page yet or the page is pretending to be your business, Facebook lets you report the page.

How Can you Protect Your Page?

Your business page is a valuable asset and goes beyond just protecting your Facebook profile. A password isn’t enough today to secure your account. Facebook has a huge section on security and in particular Login Approvals and Trusted Contacts.

Photo by petrOlly - http://flic.kr/p/ppiwGM

Photo by petrOlly

After you protect your personal Facebook account, you can set multiple people to have access to protect your page. For pages, Facebook has a large number of roles. Admins are the only people who can add or remove access to the page. The only person who can lock you out of your page is an Admin. There is no Trusted Contact function on a page, but you can assign another person as an Admin. Everyone else should be an Editor or below in security. The Admin account is your key to your business page. I don’t recommend making your additional administrator an employee of your business. Consider giving it to someone you’d give keys to your home like a good friend or family member.

If you haven’t claimed your business page, claim that page according to Facebook’s instructions. If you want the page removed, report it immediately or merge it into your claimed page.

After you’ve claimed, secured, and verified your page, it’s time to get vigilant in monitoring it. I get dozens of Facebook notifications on my phone and computer. However, my business is my top priority. The problem is I don’t know which notifications are personal and which are business related immediately. That’s why I use the Page Manager App on my mobile devices. That app gives you specific and detailed notifications on all my pages. That lets me respond quickly to problems and contain any vandalism to my pages.

What Can You Do as A Customer?

The first thing to do is to not make light of it. Small, local businesses take pride in serving their customers. When they’re vandalized, it’s a personal attack. You wouldn’t laugh at a fire truck at your friends home. You shouldn’t laugh at a business with an inappropriate picture that suddenly appeared. Please don’t share it with friends as a joke (“Hey, you’ll never guess what happened to this account”). If your personal account was hacked, you wouldn’t want people to share stuff from it. Again, remember local businesses are owned by your friends and neighbors. Your goal should be to support the local business instead of helping the hackers. Under no circumstances should you blame the victim. Even if a business made a mistake, this isn’t the time to bring it up.

If you know the owner, contact them by phone. Messaging them on Facebook won’t work if their personal account was hacked. If you can’t reach the owner, call the business and leave a message for the owner. As a last resort, go ahead and message the business and the business owner. It won’t help if hackers locked them out, that’s why I suggest it as the last thing to do.

If you can’t reach someone with the business and the vandalism hasn’t been removed, it’s time to let Facebook know and report the page. If you think someone who is involved with the business has a hacked account, report that account also.

It Sucks, But It Isn’t Permanent

As an owner of a computer repair business, I feel the pain and sting when clients have hacked Facebook pages. In all cases I’ve worked with clients, they eventually get the problem resolved. In the most extreme examples they have to start over. That’s only happened once and it was because of a split in the business ownership. With a little time and patience, you’ll get access back.

 

 

 

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