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September 30, 2010
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November 22, 2010

What’s the worst that can happen?

Being in the repair business like we are, the absolute worst thing that can happen is for a computer (desktop, laptop, server, tablet) to get worse while in our care. After all, customers come to us to FIX things not to make them worse.

Modern day electronics work by combining components, features, and abilities of multiple systems into something that does more. Even something as simple as a modern box fan has 4 very important parts that need to function together to get some air out of the thing. The parts working in concert is what we engineers call a system. Each part has it’s job, and the fan does not do its job (move air) without the parts working together.

  1. The cord must be plugged into the electric outlet (it runs on electricity)
  2. The power button has to be functional
  3. The motor has to spin
  4. The fan blades have to be intact

A computer is no different. It is quite possibly the most complex piece of equipment in our households. It is a system made up of many many parts, all working together just so we can get online, read email, etc.

Unlike a fan, the parts in a computer are less independent from each other. If the power button on the fan is broke, that probably will not affect the fan blades. In a computer, a bad video card could also mean a bad motherboard or processor. Since they are all electrically connected, if one goes out, something else could go out as well.

This presents an interesting problem when working on complex systems like computers. A symptom that points to one part, could actually be multiple parts. It’s our job to find out which part is the bad part, and replace it so you can get back to (reading our blog!)

For us, the worst possible outcome is to fix one problem and find a different problem. Especially if we don’t see that second problem right away. If we find it immediately, then we let you know you have two problems at the same time, quote you a price and repair / replace it. Everyone is happy. If we don’t find the second problem until we fix the first one, nobody is happy. This means another call to the customer, informing them they have ANOTHER problem, and all the customers hears is (this will cost me more money). Lord help us when we then call a THIRD time because we found yet another problem.

While this can not always be prevented, at Custom-PC we take a few steps to reduce the number of phone calls with ascending repair costs.

We operate off of a fix it first motto. We attempt to replace all the bad parts and test the system to find any additional problems before we call.

With desktops this is usually pretty easy. We stock 90% of what we need to repair any desktop PC. With a laptop, this isn’t easy because we often have to order what’s needed. That brings us back to the beginning problem because we won’t know if we need other parts until we replace the first bad part we found. Sometimes after we replace one part, the next part goes bad. Or it works for a short period of time and then something else goes out.

We call this a cascading failure and that usually means new computer or laptop for our customer. If multiple parts go out in sequence then we just dont feel comfortable replacing them all because it’s very likely that wont be the end of it.

Nobody wants to put money into a dying computer, and we understand that.