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Home Computer Repair is Possible and Cheaper

Yes, you can fix it yourself.

It is possible and cheaper to fix a computer yourself rather than buying a new one or taking it to a technician

Like many people starting out, necessity forced me to learn how to do a few things that can cost a lot of money when you have to pay someone else to do it. Over time I have learned how to build, repair and work on computers, cars, and to build sheds and the like all because I was fortunate enough to find people willing to show me (it also works to offer to help someone do something if you want to learn how), kept an open mind about my ability to do it, and was too damn cheap to pay somebody 5 times what it would cost me to do myself.

Home computer repair background

I went to college with almost no knowledge of computers. My Dad was nice enough to give me $300 to buy a desktop PC after I was there for a few weeks and found it hard to work, study and get things done without my own computer (not to mention I discovered Napster when it was still “free”…). $300 didn’t buy much back in those days and the 633 MHz celeron 64MB tower I ended up with just quite cut it. I was curious how to make it better and discovered ebay (this was at the turn of the millennia, mind you).  So I bought some memory, opened up the computer and put it in.

First lesson out of the way- computers aren’t really all that scary on the inside and you aren’t going to hurt anything if you are careful.

When I went back to school that next Fall, my new neighbor was a computer tech who encouraged me to get something better so I could play games against him. I turned around and sold my computer for $350. I then bought individual computer parts on ebay, getting a system many times faster than what I previously had.

I put the whole thing together keeping in mind a few basic principles- ground yourself on occasion so as not to fry your processor with static, and don’t push anything too hard that isn’t going in on its own… I assembled the parts, he showed me how to load Windows and bam- I had a great computer for another year. When done with this computer I turned around and sold for $450, again making a profit.

Repairing computers for profit

This led to yet another project computer that I sold to a lawyer a year after building for yet another profit.

I once bought an old laptop for $50 that had a bad fan in it. $6 fan and the willingness to take it apart led to a good machine that my Mom still uses (its 10 years old).

Tips on home computer repair

I have learned that taking pictures of whatever I am taking apart along the way helps ensure that I wont forget how it went later.

Laptops are tougher to repair than desktops because they are so sandwiched and layered.  When working on laptops, I line up all of the screws that I take out on the table along the perimeter of the computer in roughly the same area they were in while in the machine. All laptops are different so you need to just start peeling them apart to figure out how they go together.

I have fixed my own laptops (replaced processor, motherboard, memory, hard drives etc, my brother’s (replaced DC power jack), and friends from work.

If I can’t fix it I try to find ways around bringing it to an actual computer person to fix. One time, I opened a laptop up that needed a new DC plug jack and found that instead of plugging into the motherboard, it was soldered to it. Now I am one to try things but I know when to let a pro do it and soldering a motherboard is one of those times. Most places wanted $250 to do this job because they require that you let them take the computer apart to do it.  But I found a shop that solders heavy industrial equipment, brought the board to them and asked if they would do it (its a 2 second job for people like them once its disassembled) and $10 dollars later I was all set.

A laptop computer should easily be able to keep pace for 5 years if you upgrade it a long the way. I just “fixed” a laptop for someone with a 1 1/2 year old laptop that was too slow and a “piece of junk”. I doubled the memory in it for $30 (2 gb memory), cleaned up all of the malware and glutton of programs they had silently running in the background and the machine was good as new. And to think they were ready to run out and buy another laptop. For a range of PCs, visit Fierce PC.

My suggestion to anyone is this- dont be afraid to open things up, watch yourself a few youtube videos, or read an article or two (www.pcstats.com has great beginners guides). Start with something easy like putting in more memory or a video card. You will find its no big deal.

I can fix most anything on a computer with a small Phillip’s and a small standard screwdriver (Phillip’s for screws, standard mostly for prying). Why pay someone $300 to replace a hard drive when you can pick one up for $75 and do it yourself in no time.

Backup hard drive before working on computer

I can’t stress how important it is in all of this to cover your butt however. Part of saving money and being self sufficient in all of this is being sure you have adequate backups of your data and hard drive. Don’t just back up files but go the extra step and make a mirror image of your hard drive.  If you don’t make the mirror image you won’t have your operating system to go back to and you don’t want to have to start all over from factory recovery discs.

Now if only I could get more people to fix their own brakes…


Filed under: Business Travel, Travel Gear Repair

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