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What To Do When Your Web Browser Gives You Trouble

Web Browsers

 

Can you guess what the most common activity is people do on their computers?

Give yourself a pat on the back if you correctly guessed getting on the Internet.

Whether it’s checking email, reading the latest news or sports updates, watching videos on YouTube, or mingling with friends on Facebook, the Internet is the primary destination of most computer users.

You use a program called a web browser to access the Internet.  The most popular web browsers are Internet Explorer, Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.

Sometimes you’ll experience problems while visiting different websites.  A particular site may not load completely or at all.  An error message may appear.  Websites may take a seemingly long time to display on your screen.

Although there could be many possible causes of such problems, a gunked up web browser could be the culprit.  Resetting your browser can correct some of the problems you may experience.

Here’s how to reset the three most popular web browsers.

To reset Internet Explorer:

  1. Open Internet Explorer.
  2. Click the gear icon in the upper right corner.
  3. Select Internet Options.
  4. Click the Advanced tab.
  5. Click the Reset… button at the bottom of the window.
  6. Click Reset on the next window that opens.
  7. Click OK on the next window that opens.
  8. Close Internet Explorer to fully apply the changes.

To reset Google Chrome:

  1. Open Google Chrome.
  2. Click the Chrome settings icon in the upper right corner (3 horizontal bars).
  3. Select Settings.
  4. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click on Show Advanced Settings.
  5. Scroll down to the bottom of the page.
  6. Click on the Reset Browser Settings button.
  7. Close Google Chrome to fully apply the changes.

To reset Mozilla Firefox:

  1. Open Firefox.
  2. Press the ALT key on your keyboard one time. The menu bar will appear in the top left corner of the web browser.
  3. Click on Help.
  4. Click on Troubleshooting Information. A new page will open.
  5. Click on the Refresh Firefox button.
  6. Click on the Refresh Firefox button in the small dialog window that appears in the middle of your screen.
  7. Close Firefox to fully apply the changes.

Resetting your web browser, especially Internet Explorer, corrects many problems you may experience viewing websites.  If after resetting your browser, you still experience problems, you will want to contact your trusted computer professional to further diagnose the issue.

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Knowing Just Enough To Be Dangerous

It could have been a very bad day for Jim (not his real name) and his company.  When he called me early one morning last week, I could tell he was panicking and desperately needed help.

Jim’s company recently added a new wing to their building.  They ran their own network cables, installed new switches, and even a new wireless access point so employees could connect to the Internet with their phones and tablets.

Now Jim is fairly knowledgeable about computers.   It’s not his main job at his company, but since he’s the one who knows the most, he’s tasked with handling all the technology.

But when some of his office computers couldn’t communicate with their server while others could, he was stumped.  As the problem progressed, more of his employees couldn’t do their jobs – costing his business time and money.

When I arrived on-site, I discovered Jim had missed one small, but VERY important box that needed to be unchecked when he installed the software controlling the wireless access point.  This minor detail completely disrupted his business operations for nearly three hours – and cost him the fee for an emergency service call.

Jim thought he was saving the company money by doing the work himself.  But in the long run, it cost the company a lot more than it would have if he would have let us install it.

Unfortunately, I see this all the time with both business and home users.

Someone will call describing a problem, and then throw in, “And I had my grandson look at.  He knows a lot about computers.  He tried a few things, but he couldn’t fix it.”

By the time we look at the computer, the original problem has been made worse.  Repairs now cost more than what they would have before the “tech savvy” relative had tried their fix.

Are you guilty of this?

I used to be.  I would try to save money by fixing broken things around the house on my own.  I’d call a friend or family member who knew more about whatever was broken than I to see if they could do it cheaper than a professional.

Most every time, I ended up having to call an expert anyway – and pay more than what I would have if I would have called them first.

Not only was I ticked that neither I nor my friend/relative couldn’t fix it and that we had wasted hours, but now I was mad at having to spend lots more money.

Eventually I learned this truth from business coach and mentor Darren Hardy: “If it’s not your specialty, you shouldn’t be doing it.  Hire someone who is.”

Friends and family are excellent supporters to help in times of need.  If they specialize in something you need help with and are willing to assist for free or reduced cost, absolutely take advantage of it!

But if they happen to know just a little more than you, but it’s not their field of expertise (i.e. what they went to school for or what they do every single day in their job), save yourself the frustration and the extra expense – call an expert to do the job right.

* * * *

I was saddened and surprised to learn earlier this month that Adam’s Computers in Princeton will be going out of business at the end of this month.  Adam Hudson opened his business three months prior to Calibre in 2004.

Adam and his team have been worthy competitors these nearly 11 years.  I know it had to be a very difficult decision for him to make.  I wish Adam the best in his new career.

If you have been a customer of Adam’s Computers, Mark, Will and I here at Calibre Computer Solutions can continue to provide you excellent LOCAL computer service and support – both home users and business clients.  No need to waste time traveling to Evansville and experiencing long service times.  Feel free to give us a call at (812) 386-8919.  We’ll welcome you with open arms.

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A Tech Support Nightmare

It should have been a simple repair – one that would take a week at most because I had to order parts.

But fixing Ken’s computer turned in to an unexpected nightmare – one of the worst I’d ever experienced.

Ken brought his Asus laptop into my office because it would not load into Windows.  Now this wasn’t your run-of-the-mill, store-bought, cheap laptop.  It was a high-end gaming machine that cost close to $1500.

After performing thorough hardware and software diagnostic tests, I determined the Windows 7 operating system had somehow suffered serious corruption.  The best and most cost-effective solution to get Ken’s laptop back in operation would be to restore it back to the original factory settings.

Unfortunately, Ken didn’t make any recovery disks when he first purchased his computer, so I had to order them from Asus.  A simple task that was quickly performed.

Time Spent Calling Tech SupportThree business days later, I received the recovery disks from Asus.  I pulled Ken’s laptop onto the workbench in preparation to start the system restoration process.  But the computer didn’t boot from the DVD.

“That’s odd,” I muttered to myself.

I verified I had placed the correct disk in the drive and tried it again.  No luck.   I learned a long time ago that insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different result.  So I placed the DVD in my office computer to see if it had any data on it.

I discovered that Asus had sent me a blank recovery disk.

Mistakes can happen, so I contacted the customer service team for the recovery media and advised them of the situation.  They said they would send out a replacement set of disks, but I would first need to return the defective ones.

I explained that resolution was unacceptable, as my client had been without his computer for right at a week.  Fortunately, I succeeded in getting them to agree to send the replacement set once they received notification the original set had been picked up by FedEx the next morning.

I called Ken to explain the delay, as we normally would have had his computer completely repaired by this time.  He graciously understood.

Four days later, FedEx delivered the replacement recovery DVDs.  Once again, I sat Ken’s laptop onto the workbench, loaded the first disk, and ….. nothing.  I checked the DVD in my computer and again found that the disk was blank.

I was livid!

I once again called Asus’ customer support for the recovery media.  I explained to a different representative the problem and requested to speak to a supervisor.  None were available.  After several hours of terse phone calls and emails, I finally reached a supervisor who worked diligently to resolve the problem.

The next day a third set of recovery DVDs landed on my desk.  This time, they worked!  I successfully restored Ken’s laptop to a fully operational state, complete with updates and good antivirus protection.

All in all, I spent over 4 hours communicating with Asus to resolve Ken’s problem.  It was frustrating and irritating.  But my purpose is to advocate for my clients and make sure their computer problems are correctly resolved.

The moral of this story:  When you’re frustrated by computers and their tech support agents, sometimes it’s worth letting a professional handle it.  Often times, we can advocate on your behalf and get things done.

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“But I Only Paid $299 For It!”

A few weeks ago, Diane approached me about having a lot of unwanted, annoying, and sometimes obscene pop-ups appearing on her laptop. She inquired about what might be causing them, what I recommended be done to get rid of them, and how much it would cost.

Having never seen her computer, I suggested she schedule an appointment for me to run full diagnostics to accurately determine the problem and best resolution (remember my last column?). I also gave her a ballpark estimate of what the repairs would cost.

“But I only paid $299 for it!” Diane sighed. “It’s just a cheapy I bought at Walmart around the holidays.”

I hear this comment quite frequently from computer owners who are experiencing troubles with their desktop or laptop. Many of them saved money up front by purchasing cheap devices at the big box stores. Then when they experience issues, they find the cost of repairs is easily half or more of what they paid for the machine itself.

The unvarnished truth

First, let me boldly address the elephant in the room.

When you buy cheap, you’re going to experience problems faster and more frequently than if you had invested in a good computer. The only way retailers can offer you ridiculously low prices on a computer is for four reasons:

1. They’re made with lower quality components that have a higher failure rate. Meaning you will have to either repair it or junk it.
2. They’re loaded with useless software that slows the computer down and can cause problems right out of the box.
3. They lack the essential hardware to adequately run the operating system and your software programs.
4. They’re taking a loss on it just to give you a good deal (unlikely, but does happen around holidays).

No matter why it’s cheap, the fact is ANY type of repair will cost 50% or more of what you paid for the computer.

You just have to decide whether you want to spend your hard-earned money to repair it or waste your cash again on another cheap piece of technology that soon will cause you the same problem.

When should you repair and when should you replace?

In Diane’s case, her problem resulted from a virus or malware infection. It’s a software problem that can happen to any computer no matter how much one paid for it.
Other clients, like Rick, experience a hardware problem – like a failed motherboard or crashed hard drive.

Software problems, especially virus infections, happen on every computer. I recommend spending the money to repair the computer because it’s typically going to be cheaper than buying a new one (especially a good one).

Even if it ends up costing slightly more than you paid for it, it may be worth repairing because some of those costs may be for actual software programs, such as virus protection, which you would have to pay for with a new computer anyway. So those costs can’t really be included in the cost comparison.

Hardware problems are a different story. If you bought a cheap laptop or desktop and find it needs a new hard drive, the cost of hardware and labor will probably be equal to or more than what you originally paid.

In this case, I would recommend replacing the computer – but don’t make the same mistake by buying another cheap device. Instead, wisely invest your money in a reliable computer recommended by a true PC tech, not some sales geek at the big box store just looking to earn a commission.

If you wisely purchased a good computer, but are unfortunately suffering a hardware failure, I would recommend repairing it only if it meets these criteria:

• The total cost of repairs is less than 60% of what you paid for the computer
• The computer is less than 5 years old
• The computer adequately performs the tasks you need it to

Otherwise, you’re smarter purchasing a new, reliable computer – again from a true PC tech, not a sales geek.

Your individual situation may be different, but these are my general guidelines when making repair versus replace decisions. I would be more than happy to advise you what’s best for you. Drop me an email at info@calibre-cs.com.

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The 8 Words PC Techs Hate to Hear

Matt called my office yesterday describing a very common computer problem.

“Scott, my computer is running really slow,” he lamented.  “I can’t get anything done.”

I Can't Hear You

Then he uttered the eight words I hate being asked over the phone – “What do you think is wrong with it?”

It’s a legitimate question.  Matt, like every other client I regularly speak with, really wanted to know why his PC wasn’t working like it should, and what needed to be done to fix it.  He knew there was a problem, but it wasn’t something he could figure out.  That’s why he called me – the computer doctor!

After probing and asking specific, in-depth questions, diagnosing some computer problems can be done rather easily over the phone.  In some cases, I can walk a client through steps to better troubleshoot or even fix the issue.  If they utilize our remote access software, I can log in to their PC over the Internet to assist.

But most computer problems are just SYMPTOMS, especially in cases where a computer is described as running slow.  Accurately determining the root cause of an issue may not be able to be done by just hearing a description.

Let me illustrate.

You’ve vowed to become a healthier you in 2015 as one of your New Year’s resolutions.  It’s been a while since you’ve gone to the gym, lifted weights, and ran a mile or two on the treadmill.  But you decide this year will be different.

So one day you get up early, force yourself into the bone-chilling winter weather and make your way to the gym.  Your 45-minute workout goes well – not too intense, but you can tell your body got a workout.  Then you spend the next eight hours at work before you go home.

After eating supper, you sit down in your favorite easy chair to watch some TV.  You begin to feel this sudden, sharp pain in your chest as you breathe.  You begin to worry, but you refuse to go to the ER.

The next morning, you awake and prepare for your day, but notice the pain is still there.  You skip your workout, but decide to call the doctor.

You tell him your activities prior to the pain, and then you ask him, “Doc, what do you think is wrong?”

You’re hoping he tells you that it’s nothing to worry about.  Instead, he says, “You need to go to the emergency room so we can order some tests.  It may be nothing – just a pulled muscle.  Or it could be a sign of something more serious – like a heart attack.  We won’t know until we do these tests.”

Many computer issues require the same – we have to run tests on your computer to truly pinpoint the real cause of your computer problems.

Continuing my example from above – Matt complained of his computer running slow.  This could be caused by a lot of things.  To name a few:

  • A corrupted Windows file
  • A problem with a software program
  • An excessive amount of junk/temporary files built up
  • A faulty driver
  • A bad memory module
  • A failing hard drive

I asked Matt to schedule an appointment to bring his computer in so I could run full diagnostic tests.  Then, I could confidently advise him what I needed to do to fix the problem and what it would cost.

Although your PC tech is an expert in his/her field – just like your doctor, please don’t be disappointed when they can’t diagnose your computer problem sight unseen.  It’s a wise decision to allow them to thoroughly test your computer so it can be fixed right – quickly and the first time.

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5 Myths About Computer Viruses

Our tech bench at Calibre Computer Solutions always has at least one computer (usually more) on it that’s been infected with some type of virus or malware. Nasty infections requiring specific removal tools and processes have increased dramatically over the past year.

The number one question I’m asked is, “How did this get on my computer? I have antivirus protection.”

In today’s column, I would like to dispel five common myths most computer owners believe about viruses and spyware. Learn these, make the recommended changes, and your risk of infection will be greatly reduced.

MYTH #1 – If I have an antivirus program, my computer is safe.
Unfortunately this is not entirely true. Having a good antivirus program, such as our recommended Managed VIPRE Antivirus, is an important step in the right direction.

However, malware creators work hard to sidestep the common protection programs either by exploiting newly discovered security holes before they’re patched or by using “social engineering” to trick users into opening infected files directly.

While there is no guarantee of total safety, experts recommend a combination of the following for reasonable protection:

• Professional antivirus software – NOT the free AVG or Microsoft Security Essentials
• Regular software updates for your operating system (Windows or Mac OSX), Java, Adobe products, and Internet browsers
• User education (e.g. “If you don’t recognize the sender, don’t open the attachment”)
• Perimeter defense (firewall, hosted spam filtering, DNS protection)
• Regular, automated backups

MYTH #2 – If I use a Mac, I don’t have to worry about viruses.

Once upon a time this was mostly true. When Macs were a tiny slice of the overall market, it just wasn’t worth the malware writer’s time to learn how to infect Apple computers.

With the growing popularity of the Apple Mac though, comes a growing interest from online criminals. In 2012, over 600,000 Mac computers were infected with the Flashback malware, and security maker Sophos currently tracks over 4500 Mac-specific viruses and malware currently in use around the world.

Like PC users, the time has come for Mac users to add antivirus software and make sure they are being diligent with software updates and backups.

MYTH #3 – My mobile devices can’t get infected.

Also not true! As of 2012, the fastest growing segment of both malware quantity and malware profitability (for the criminals creating these things) is the smartphone and tablet market – more specially, Android-based devices.

iPhones and iPads are still largely malware-free, though a June 2012 article in Forbes magazine titled “There is too malware on the iPhone!” makes the point that iDevice users should not assume they are completely invulnerable.

With the rise in Android malware, it is important to install protection software on your mobile phone or tablet. I recommend using VIPRE Mobile Security.

MYTH #4 – No one would be interested in hacking into my computers.

Really? I hear this a lot, often from people who:
• Have a reasonably powerful computer, and
• Have a high-speed internet connection

That’s really all criminals need.

With that computer infected and under the control of a malware-enabled criminal botnet, it can be used to send thousands of spam messages per day, attack other computers on the Internet, or control other infected computers so that authorities can’t trace the real controller’s point of origin.

They can also watch every keystroke you enter in the computer, looking for patterns that might be credit card numbers, social security numbers, bank accounts, and passwords. These can be bundled and sold on the online black market. Since the entire process is automated, it’s common for thousands or even hundreds of thousands of infected computers to be under the control of just a handful of people.

The take-away here is, no matter how unimportant you think your computer might be, you should still take precautions to protect yourself AND others.

MYTH #5 – If I do get infected, it just means I’ll get some error messages or pop-up ads.

Unfortunately this is also wrong. As I mentioned above, malware is a serious, money-making business for the creators. We already talked about some of the ways they can make money – hijacking your computer to send spam or to capture your credit card information for example. In those cases, people generally have no idea their computer is infected until they notice problems on their credit report.

A more aggressive version of malware is becoming more common though.

Imagine this scenario – You turn your computer on one day. Instead of the normal startup screen, you get a message saying that your computer’s files are encrypted and the only way to get them back is to wire $300 to the hackers. After they receive the money, they will give you the password to get all your data back. (Although they’re more likely to just demand more money).

These are increasingly common strategies that these online criminals use to make money.

To fight back, use these three tips:
• Use strong protection (see point 1 above)
• Backup regularly
• Use strong passwords and change them often

Make sure any hosted email accounts you may have, including Gmail or Hotmail, include a second authentication method such as a cell phone or alternate email account. Usually with this in place, you will be notified whenever your primary password is changed, and you can contact the service provider immediately if you weren’t the one who changed it.

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Do You REALLY Have Computer Problems?

When Brenda called our office early last week, she reported that every time she booted up her computer several pop-ups warned that her computer had multiple problems needing fixed.  No matter what she did, they prevented her from doing anything on her computer.  And they wouldn’t go away.

A couple days later, Robert called requesting an appointment for us to remove viruses off his computer.  He described his problem almost exactly the same as Brenda.

Scores of clients have brought their computers to us over the past year with these annoying, intrusive programs preventing them from being able to surf the Internet, check email or anything else.

These programs carry names like PC Optimizer Pro, Speed Optimizer Pro, My PC Backup, and Windows Registry Cleaner.

While these programs technically are not viruses, they do exhibit many characteristics of malicious software.  They become deeply rooted into the Windows operating system, hijack your web browsers, and overall just create a major annoyance when using your PC.

The programs, called PUPs (potentially unwanted programs), reportedly scan your computer and discover all kinds of problems – invalid registry entries, junk files, and erroneous system settings.  They offer to fix these problems with the promise that your PC will run better.  The catch is you have to purchase the software.

Unfortunately, I have seen many instances where allowing these programs to “fix” the problems it finds actually creates more serious problems – usually requiring professional repair.

These programs also tend to act like a magnet, attracting other malicious software to become installed on your computer.  Every computer I have examined containing Optimizer Pro-type software has had numerous other similar programs causing pop-ups and other “error” messages.

Most of our clients are unaware of how these programs got installed on their computers.  Typically, they are bundled in the installers for other free software – like free video recording or streaming software, PDF creators and download managers.  It can also be included in custom installers from reputable download websites.

This is why it is very IMPORTANT to pay close attention when installing software.  Read every screen and look at all the options that are automatically check-marked.  Most software installers allow you to choose what you want to install.

Using the custom install option is always the safest.  This allows you to deselect anything that you’re not sure about, especially unwanted software.

Most importantly, never install software that you don’t trust.  When in doubt, don’t.

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What Every Computer User Must Know About Software Updates

Ever had your computer disabled by a nasty virus infection?  Many of your family, friends and neighbors have. Our phones continuously rang and a steady stream of clients poured in with infected computers the first week of this month.

All of the PCs had active virus protection software installed and working. So what happened?  What allowed these viruses to overtake these machines?

The answer was the same for every single person: they had not installed critical updates for several software programs on their computer.

Unlike the early days of computer viruses, pornographic or salacious websites are not the primary source of infections. It can be an innocuous website like Facebook, MSN or Yahoo. It can come from an email sent to you by a friend or relative.

Everyone who browses the Internet today knows better than to not have antivirus software installed on their computer.

But the problem is – we think the antivirus software is THE single source of protection against our computer becoming damaged by hackers and viruses. The fact is, it’s not.

You HAVE to keep your computer protected by installing critical updates for Windows and other programs on your computer.

You’ve most likely noticed (and ignored) when programs like Java, Adobe Flash, Adobe Reader, or iTunes alert you an update is ready to be installed. These updates contain important changes that improve the performance, stability and security of the program.

Installing these software updates is critical to keeping your computer protected against crippling virus infections and stolen personal information.

CITES Security, a division of the technology department of the University of Illinois, clearly describes the damage that can be done when you neglect to install updates for your various software programs:  “Just visiting a compromising website with a vulnerable version of Internet Explorer can allow attackers to access your computer and install software that steals your personal information. Being infected like this is known as a drive-by download. The software that infects computers through this vulnerability collects information, including user names and passwords for various sites, including bank and email accounts.”

Vulnerable AppsAs seen in the accompanying illustration, Kaspersky Lab, a computer security company, discovered that the unpatched software most targeted by web exploits (think, virus writers and hackers) are: Java – 56%, Adobe Reader – 25%, Windows and Internet Explorer – 4%, Adobe Flash – 3%, Android Root (for mobile devices) – 2%, and other – 11%.

So what do you need to do?  Install the updates when you’re prompted!

Most people, however, hesitate doing these updates because of the justified fear it could be a fake program waiting to infect your computer.

Two solutions exist to solve this problem: 1) let your computer professional take care of the updates for you. At Calibre, we have a service that automatically installs all the critical updates via the Internet on a regular basis. This completely eliminates your worry about clicking the wrong thing or messing up your computer. Or 2) Do it yourself by regularly visiting http://www.ninite.com to manually download and install updates for common programs.

Bottom line, keeping your computer updated – in addition to using effective antivirus software – will greatly reduce the risk of your computer becoming infected with a virus.

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9 Tips to Keep Your Computer Running Smoothly

Computer Cleaning

Wouldn’t you agree that it’s very frustrating when your computer doesn’t work the way it should?  All you want to do is sit down, check your email or Facebook, or enjoy a few minutes playing solitaire – without becoming stressed out by an uncooperative computer.

Your computer is very similar to your car. It requires regular, basic maintenance to help keep it running smoothly and more error-free. It’s not a set-it-up and forget-it device like your home DVD player.

While performing regular maintenance on your computer does not mean it will never break or experience problems, it does reduce the chance of a more serious problem occurring and causing you major headaches or expensive repair bills.

 

Daily Tasks

1)     Back-up your data files. If you create documents, manage your finances, or store pictures or music on your computer, you should back up your files every day. This can be done by copying them to a DVD, an external hard drive, or USB flash drive.

2)     Perform virus scans. Virus infections cause most of the problems people experience with their computers. Installing a quality antivirus program, such as VIPRE Antivirus, and scanning your computer daily will help keep your computer healthy.

 

Weekly Tasks

1)     Install updates. Software manufacturers release updates to fix problems with their software. You should install Microsoft or Windows updates, Java, Adobe Flash Player, and Adobe Reader updates when you are notified that they are ready to be installed.
Each of these software programs has a distinctive icon or dialog box that will alert you that updates are ready to be installed. These icons generally appear in the bottom right corner of your screen near the clock. Download our update guide at http://www.bit.ly/IconsGuide.

2)     Reboot your computer. If you leave your computer on all the time, you should shut down and restart your computer at least two or three times a week. This helps clear the memory and allow the computer to operate faster.

 

Monthly Tasks

1)     Remove junk files. As you use your computer for browsing the Internet, installing and uninstalling programs, and other tasks, unnecessary files begin to fill up your hard drive. These files eventually slow down your computer.
The easiest way to remove all these files at one time is to use a free software called CCleaner. It can be downloaded from https://www.calibreforhome.com/free-tools.

2)     Run disk check. This process examines the health of your hard disk, detecting and fixing potential problems before they happen.
To run a disk check, click on the Start button and select Run. In the box, type CMD and click OK. In the black window that appears, type:  chkdsk c: /f. Then restart the computer.

3)     Defragment your hard drive. Each time you use your computer, files get accessed by various programs. When the program is finished using a particular file, it doesn’t always put it back in the same place it found it. This causes your computer to run slower.
Although Windows has a built-in defrag utility, we use and recommend the free Auslogics Disk Defrag software. It can be downloaded from https://www.calibreforhome.com/free-tools.

 

Every 6 Months

Computers attract dust, dirt, and animal hair. This can cause problems, as it clogs up the fans inside your computer and can cause heat to build up and damage the critical components of your computer.

Turn off your computer and unplug it from the power outlet. Open the computer case and gently blow out any dust with a can of compressed air. You can also brush off any dust or animal hair from the outside of the case. You may also want to blow out your keyboard with the compressed air.

 

Yearly Tasks

If you’re performing the preceding maintenance on your computer, it should run faster and more error-free. However, it’s always a good idea to have a computer professional perform a more in-depth tune-up once a year.

A quality tune-up service will check all of your computer’s hardware for potential problems, uninstall unnecessary software programs, and clean the registry (something that should NEVER be done by a home user).

Performing these simple maintenance tips on a regular basis will keep your computer healthy and running smoothly.

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Doing the Right Thing

When Fort Branch resident Jim Snyder entered our office on Friday, January 11 of this year, he had no idea what was wrong with his laptop. He simply wanted it to work.

He also had no idea of what he would soon experience.

Jim explained that he purchased the computer a while back from one of the big box office retailers in Evansville. He had taken it back to them a short time later because it wasn’t running properly. Despite their repairs, the laptop, he said, had not worked right since then.

But now, it wasn’t powering on at all – after months of not being used. So he brought it to us.

Jim said he had tried using a different power adapter from his work laptop, but his personal laptop still displayed no signs of life. He said his power adapter did function on his work laptop, so he didn’t believe that was the problem.

Having seen this issue many times before, I explained that it was either a failed power jack inside the laptop or a failed motherboard. As I advised him of the estimated repair costs, I noticed on the paperwork he brought along that his computer had one day left on its original one-year manufacturer’s warranty. I told him that if he contacted Lenovo, the laptop’s manufacturer, to perform the repairs under warranty he could save a considerable amount of money.

Jim asked us to contact Lenovo on his behalf. And it’s a good thing we did.

Upon speaking with a Lenovo tech support agent, she revealed that their system showed the laptop’s warranty expired on January 5th. They also showed the warranty began on November 22, 2011.

I explained to her that I had seen this before. The warranty period in their system shows the date the big box store purchased the computer, but that it did not reflect the actual date the end user purchased the computer – which meant the end user wasn’t receiving the full benefit of the one-year warranty period.

The tech support agent transferred me to their exceptions department, where I had to explain everything again. She asked me to fax Jim’s paperwork to her so she could update their records and allow the repairs to be made under warranty.

About two hours later, I received an email from Lenovo referencing several problems with the paperwork. When Jim purchased the laptop from the big box office store, the sales associate made two significant errors: 1) he incorrectly marked the computer as a desktop instead of a laptop and 2) he mistyped the serial number. They also needed the original sales receipt showing the date of purchase and the amount paid.

I immediately contacted Jim to see if he had located the original sales receipt. Unfortunately, he could not. So I called the big box office supply store and explained the situation to the assistant manager. He could only look up sales receipts less than four months old. But he provided me a phone number for their corporate office research team, advising they should be able to find it. They said it could take several days.

In the meantime, I took a closer look at Jim’s paperwork. The day he purchased the laptop, he also enrolled in the store’s online rewards program. I obtained his login information from him and upon checking his account, found the receipt for his purchase of the laptop.

I immediately emailed the receipt to the Lenovo support agent, even though their offices had closed for the weekend.

On Monday, I contacted Lenovo to make sure they had received the paperwork they needed so that Jim’s laptop could be repaired at no cost to him. After a few final explanations, their system was updated and a box was shipped to our office so we could send his laptop in for the necessary repairs.

Two days later, Jim’s laptop was returned to our office – fixed and fully operational.

Jim expressed his greatest appreciation for our going the extra mile for him. Had he taken the laptop back to where he purchased it or to many other computer repair stores, they most likely would have taken Lenovo’s word that the warranty expired on January 5 and left it at that. If he wanted the laptop fixed, he would have to pay a large sum out of his pocket. Instead, I knew the right thing to do was to have Lenovo’s records changed to reflect when Jim actually bought the computer and then to have it fixed under warranty.

Honesty. Integrity. Fighting for what’s right. Going the extra mile and getting things done for our clients. That’s what I believe in and that’s what I try to do for every single one of my clients. It’s not always convenient and not always easy, but it’s the right thing to do.

How’s your computer repair company treating you?