Updated: The Best Internet Service Provider (ISP) in Lawrence Kansas

One of the most popular blog posts I’ve written is “Who is the Best Internet Service Provider (ISP) in Lawrence, KS?”.  That post is seven years old, so I thought I’d revisit it.  Not much has changed.

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The market in Lawrence, like most of the country, is a duopoly.  We have internet service through a cable company and a phone company.

Primary Options:  Midco, AT&T, Wicked

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The two main players in town are Midco (formerly Wow, Knology, and Sunflower) along with AT&T.  Wicked Broadband (formerly Lawrence Freenet) is another player in this market.

Since I wrote that in 2012, the most significant change besides the names is the speeds; both AT&T and Midco can provide Gigabit Internet (like what Google offers in Kansas City).  This option isn’t available everywhere in town though, you’ll have to contact the providers to see if service is available where you are.

Midco versus AT&T Uverse

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Midco continues to have the highest amount of coverage in town.  It works pretty much everywhere.  AT&T and Wicked are distance-dependent.  Wicked’s primary business is large installations like fraternity houses, apartment complexes, and businesses.  It’s always a good idea to see if you can get service from them as a third option.

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Midco no longer has local support.  It’s based in the US though and is usually excellent.  AT&T outsources support overseas.  Our clients continue to have problems with inadequate support from AT&T.

I’ve switched to Midco at home primarily due to pricing and speed.  Midco was able to give me faster speeds at a lower price.

New Option:  Cellular Service

Back in 2012, we were on 3G/4g networks.  Now, most of Lawrence has LTE service on mobile networks from the big players like AT&T Wireless, T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon.  Depending on your phone and location you can get up to 125 down and 25 up.  That’s faster than the base services of both Midco and AT&T Uverse.  You’ll hit data caps though of between 10 and 50 depending on how much you’re willing to pay.  My office now uses a tethered phone for occasional internet needs.

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All providers give you the option of “tethering” your phone to use it for an internet connection.  Your computer connects to your phone, and your phone connects to the Internet.  All wireless phone providers sell “hotspots” aka “MiFi’s” that acts as a mini-ISP in your pocket.  They don’t do phone calls but share a cellular connection among devices.

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As people “cut-the-cord” and get rid of home phone and TV, these hotspots sometimes make more sense.  The costs are comparable to prices charged by Midco and AT&T but give you the added advantage of taking your internet connection wherever you go.

In particular, I like these options for single people.  Your internet connection follows you.  If you aren’t home, you aren’t paying for service.  Cellular is also an excellent option for someone who needs the internet to occasionally work from home or a coffee shop.

Cellular isn’t suitable when you have a bunch of people trying to share the internet.  You’ll eat through your data plan quickly.  These devices don’t have much range.  For example, you can’t use them in more than one room in the house.

Recommendation:  Midco

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Due to Midco’s coverage, speed, and reliability, they’re our recommendation as the best ISP in Lawrence, KS.  It’s worth checking with Wicked to see if they can provide you service.  If you don’t do much on the internet, check with your wireless company to see about getting service through your phone or another device.

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Virtual 360 View of Our Office in Lawrence

Have you ever seen those virtual 360 tours online?  We’ve got one now of our office in Lawrence!

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It’s live on Google Maps.  If you’d like to see a full view of our office explaining all the cool stuff in it, check out this link.  Inside you’ll see lots of Doctor Who stuff along with other interests Dave has.  If you’d like a detailed view of the office, not hosted on Google, this link explains all the stuff in the office.

At 4105 West 6th Street is a small office we use to meet with our clients. It’s small for a few reasons. Since we do most of our work onsite, we don’t need a big space.  We pass those savings along to our clients.  We also don’t have any retail sales.  We focused solely on computer repair.  We don’t sell computers; we don’t repair mobile phones.  We do one thing and do it really well:  computer repair.

You can also see in that office we don’t have storage space for computers waiting to be repaired.  That’s by design.  Sure, we might need to monitor a system overnight or do an extensive data transfer from an old computer to a new one.  For the most part, though, we work on your computer right then and there.  You walk in with a computer needing to be repaired, and you walk out with it fixed — no sitting on a “rack” for days or weeks at a time.  We don’t have the room!  It forces us to be efficient and not waste your time.

All service, unless specified otherwise, is by appointment only. We just don’t have the room to see more than one person at a time or store their computer after all.

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Don’t You Wish You Could Block Fake Emails?

Youve Got Mail

Ever since I got email back in the early 90s, fake emails were a problem.  Sadly it’s only gotten worse over time.

You’d think as technology got better and Artificial Intelligence improved (I’m looking at you Siri and Alexa), we’d have figured out how to know if an email message is legit.  We’ve had some neat innovations, but the vast majority of us suffer from email overload.

I loved this article in Techcrunch as it summarized my pain.  It had some techie-ideas of how to solve it.  My prediction is they never will.  After all, we’ve had postal mail for hundreds of years, but I still get junk mail!

Photo by card karma

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Doctor Dave Just Six Months Before Windows 7 Ends

Back in January, we warned you that Windows 7 systems had an expiration date of January 14th, 2020.  Counting from today’s date, we’re less than six months away from that deadline.

What does that mean?  This video explains some of it.

If you’d like to learn more, we’ve developed a short eBook to explain the risks.  To download the free book, just follow this link.

windows7 eol ecover

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DoctorDave: Best of Lawrence Computer Repair 2019

Yesterday the Lawrence Journal World and Lawrence Magazine announced the winners of the Best of Lawrence contest.

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This year was a bit different than in previous years.  The Journal World is no longer locally owned, and a third party administers the contest.  That’s disappointing because I’m a firm believer in supporting locally owned businesses.

That’s one reason I’m delighted this year to see so many locally owned businesses win the contest. While it’s often based on luck and randomness, it’s still lovely to see the support.

In the computer repair business here in Lawrence, local shops have a hard time succeeding.  We see more locally grown companies being forced to become franchisees or simply close down.  I always like as many dollars to stay in Lawrence and support the local economy rather than pay for national branding and affiliations.

In 2019, I’ll be on my 16th year of DoctorDave Computer Repair. Last year we had our 15th anniversary at Alchemy with free coffee, baked goods, and giveaways.  I was humbled by all the people that attended.  I’m also humbled by how many people took the time to enter us in the contest.

How did we do?

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We continue to hold the title of Best of Lawrence for Computer Repair!

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Regardless of the contest results, we’ll continue to do our very best to earn your business.  Winning a contest is nice, but it doesn’t create trust and loyalty.  As you can see by our reviews on Google and our support on Facebook, our goal is to solve your problems.  Sometimes that means not repairing something but instead buying new.  We’re always working in our customer’s best interest.  We don’t sell computers, so when we tell someone it’s better to replace, we’re not making money on that recommendation.  In fact, we’ll consult on a new computer purchase at no charge.

We’re in this for the long haul and look forward to our 30th anniversary, and maybe another 15 Best of Lawrence wins!

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DoctorDave Computer Recycling Event Lawrence

Each year in Lawrence, the city coordinates with a local recycler for an electronics recycling event.  It’s usually in October and May.  The city hasn’t announced an event for 2019.  Lots of clients are asking about it, assuming it would have been by now.

(Dave at his latest pickup from Connecting for Good)

We do recycling year-round but don’t actively advertise it.  We think it’s essential to participate in the city event to show there is a clear need in our community.   To help out, we’re going to create our own mini-computer and electronics recycling event on Tuesday, June 18th from 4 pm to 8 pm.

For this mini event, we can recycle at no charge:

  • Desktop and laptop computers along with FREE secure destruction of data
  • Things that connect to computers like scanners, monitors, and printers
  • Floppy disks, CDs and manuals
  • Mobile phones and tablets
  • Stuff we can’t take is anything non-computer related like appliances or televisions

We’re limiting this to residential customers and can only take three computers per household.  If you need to recycle more, let us know, and we can coordinate with our recycling partner, Connecting For Good.  Connecting For Good is a fantastic organization we work with to make sure computers can be repurposed locally whenever possible to help bridge the digital divide.

If you come by that day, we’ll give you some free DoctorDave gifts for recycling your computer.  Don’t have anything to recycle?  No worries, stop by and we’ll still give you a little something.  Need a quick computer question answered?  We can do that during our recycling event.  We’ll even have a few treats.

If you could RSVP via Facebook if you’re interested, that will help make sure we have enough room, gifts, and treats.

The Smallest Acts of Kindness ​From Our Clients

If you’ve read our reviews on Google, Facebook, or Yelp, you’ll see a phrase over and over again-” they helped us for free over the phone.”  We often help people at no charge over the phone even if they aren’t a client.  We know computer repair is expensive, and if it’s a simple fix, we want to get you up and running as soon as possible.  We’re in the computer repair business for the long haul, so we’ll forgo the short term billable hours for the long-term relationship investment.

Sometimes people will send an email of thanks, but it’s rare you get a written card today.  This one showed up in the office recently.

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What made it unique for me is it’s honestly something I tell people all the time about shutting down their computers.  At first glance, it wasn’t a big deal.  It’s advice I give all the time.  ‘Take two aspirin and call me in the morning,” as the old-time doctor would say.  However, if aspirin got rid of the headache, then it was great advice.

It’s nice to take a pause every so often to remember what’s easy for us, and that which we often give away for free is vital to someone struggling with those computer problems.  Keeps those cards and letters coming because they make my day. Of course, please send those computer repair questions as well.

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The Risks of An Old Battery

A few weeks ago, a client came in with a computer needing a new battery.  She apparently for quite some time knew it wouldn’t hold a charge, but just lived with it since it was always plugged in.  It wasn’t until the keyboard stopped working; she contacted us.

Looking inside, we found this monstrosity.  I included in the picture a standard AAA battery so you could see a comparison.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW thumb 700aNo wonder the keyboard and mouse had troubles, the battery had expanded to almost double its size.  It should have been entirely flat on the top.  This was a Dell Latitude PC.  Battery expansion could happen to any computer.  That same day we also saw an Apple MacBook Pro with the same symptoms:  low battery and problems with mouse and trackpad.  You can see how that expanded as well.

Around that same time, a MacBook Pro had his laptop spontaneously burst into flames.  According to the user , he hadn’t modified his computer and it was the original battery.

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All batteries fail; it’s a scientific fact.  You see it in your flashlight, your car, and even your phone.  Laptops are no different.  On average the batteries last about three years before needing to be replaced.  All sorts of symptoms are related to a failing battery.

If your laptop’s battery isn’t holding much of a charge, it’s important we get that replaced before it starts expanding or worse.

Free Loaner Computers for Tornado Victims

With the recent tornados and storms out here in Lawrence as well as Kansas City, many victims have suffered severe damage to their homes.  While I may not be handy with a hammer and nails, I am handy with a screwdriver and anti-static wrist strap.

Vaughn Shoe Salon

I wasn’t sure how I could help until today.  I got a call from someone who had been displaced from their home and needed a computer.  They wanted to know if we sold used ones.  The bad news is we don’t sell new or used computers.  We strictly focus on computer repair. That keeps us unbiased and focuses us on just computer repair.

However, we do have a computer recycling program.  We refurbish computers when we can and work with Connecting For Good to help in their mission.  We’ve also donated them to local non-profit organizations and their clients.  Some of these computers we reserve as loaners for clients in our DoctorDave wellness program.  I was delighted to offer one of these loaners to a very appreciative person who gave me the idea of opening this up to everyone.

If you’ve been displaced because of the storm, please let us know if you need a loaner computer.  We have mostly desktop computers but do have a few laptops.  They are usually five years old or more, but they work for email and getting online.  They’re also great for entertaining the kids.  All we ask you do is return it to us when done, so we can direct them back to Connecting for Good.  Of course, there is no charge for these loaner computers.

It’s a small thing we can do to help families in this time of need.  If you need a computer, please contact our office at 785-841-8766 or 816-301-4335.

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After the Storm – Protecting Your Computer

As anyone in Lawrence, Topeka, or Kansas City knows, we had one heck of a storm last night.  I spent a good part of the evening in the basement.  That wasn’t fun.  I’m sure you didn’t have fun either.

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This bad weather is an excellent time to talk though about the importance of offsite backup, while it’s fresh in everyone’s mind.   I did the same reminder a few years ago after the severe weather in Houston.  Local backups to an external hard drive in your home or business is an excellent secondary method of backup.   However, backing up to an online service is your best backup, because if something happens to your home or office an on-site backup is lost.  Over the years, I found often it wasn’t a direct hit by a tornado that caused damage, but water.  Rain might have leaked in.  For example, one client had a tree fall into her office.  It was the rain that ruined everything. If your computer does get wet, please follow our instructions for “I just spilled something on my laptop.”

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A common question we get asked is about protection against surges and lightning.  A majority of people aren’t protected.  I wrote about this a few years ago, and my opinion remains pretty much the same.  I’d advise though now getting uninterruptible power supply (UPS) with USB ports.  I have one of these in my home and what I like is it not only protects against surges but also provides battery backup for my internet and phone.  It was $50 and a worthwhile investment.

During an electrical storm, we recommend unplugging the computer power from the wall. We also recommend unplugging Ethernet cords from both the back of your cable modem as well as your computer.  Surges can travel through those lines even if the computer is off and unplugged.

Finally, if you have valuable electronics you rely on for a home-based (including remote employees)  or small business, please consider getting your devices scheduled on your insurance.  That can often cover both damages to the computer as well as data recovery should these things come up.

If you have any questions about protecting your computer against surges or data loss, please email us.  We always consult on things like this at no charge and for the next week, we’re waiving any labor fees to install an offsite backup, which is about $60 year.   Call/text 785-841-8766 or email dave@calldrdave.com

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