09:45 Monday 16 September 2013

Laptop and PC repair guide

Written byLeah Cassady

Technology plays a vital part in our day to day lives, from smart phones to laptops and even fridges. With all this money being spent on technology, it’s useful to know more about where to go and what to expect if something goes wrong!

So we’ve spoken to experts from UKIT-Systems based in Hanley to provide you with a handy guide of to what to look for when searching for laptop and pc repairs.

We see a lot of computers here at UKIT and the majority of our customers have shopped around to find the best price for a repair. However, when it comes to talking money people are either put off by the price of a repair or are paying over the odds.

Cheap doesn’t necessarily mean quality, so don’t be afraid to ask about the background of the technician or company as it will give you an indication of the level of service you’ll receive.

‘No Fix – No Fee’

The majority of repair shops offer a ‘No Fix – No Fee’ service and only charge labour to fix the problem with parts being charged at the RRP or in store prices. So if you are asked for a diagnosis fee upfront, you’re best shopping elsewhere. Look out for no obligation quotes and a ‘no fix – no fee’ as it affords you the opportunity to shop around.

Call Out and Remote Support

When you need someone to assist physically, a technician shouldn’t just fix the main issue, but also give your machine a comprehensive check-up to ensure that nothing will go wrong again in the near future.

On the other hand the majority of issues can be fixed remotely using specialist software which allows an IT technician to connect to your PC and use sophisticated tools to diagnose your issue.

When looking for support, be sure to ask if a comprehensive check-up is included and when considering remote support I’d recommend comparing the price against a drop off repair as they can often be cheaper, unless there is no other option.

Drop Off

If you have a laptop or pc you can travel with, it’s far easier and often more cost effective to drop it off in store. Be sure you are given a receipt (usually a copy of the job form) and an indication of when the company will be in touch with a diagnosis and price. Remember to look around for places with a ‘No Fix – No Fee’ service.

Waiting Times

Waiting times can vary depending on the type of issue, something like a RAM (Memory) upgrade really shouldn’t take more than 2 hours, it’s a five minute job but bear in mind the company will have other customers as well.

Operating systems (OS) are usually done in a few hours however, any reputable technician will ensure that any documents, if needed, are loaded onto your machine and that Windows updates and drivers are installed so everything runs smoothly, this should generally take no longer than two days.

Other software and hardware issues can vary. Some software issues can be resolved in a matter of hours whereas replacement parts can take up to two weeks due to sourcing and ordering them.

Data Recovery

When your work documents have gone astray or your external hard drive won’t work you need to find a data recovery company who specialise in this field. Professional recovery equipment can cost £6000 upwards, which is something that a standard repair shop wouldn’t justify buying.

A typical data recovery turnaround time is around 3-5 days with the first 48 hours being the analysis. On some occasions this can take longer depending on the damage and the time it may take for parts to arrive.

Different data recovery companies have different pricing structures and try to target different markets. So shop around for low quotes aimed at the general public, though beware of the 'too good to be true' quotes.

If your drive has suffered physical damage and you’re being offered quotes of around £30-£95, the chances are the parts needed cost more than that. Data recovery, especially from damaged drives, is not an easy process and technicians working on them will be highly skilled and charge accordingly for their time.

Understanding your problem and the potential costs

The age of your computer or laptop can be a potential issue, if parts are needed you’d be looking at sourcing spares which can be difficult to find and also expensive. Often buying new could be cheaper, as new laptops and computers can be picked up for around £350.

Software issues are usually the easiest fix as they only require labour and the skills of the technician, common issues are start-up problems, malware, viruses and driver problems. For peace of mind find a company or package that will give your system a complete overhaul which should include start-up configuration and optimization, virus removal and an internal service. Costs for this vary from £40 upwards depending on the level of service.

Operating system installs should cost around the same if you are providing the original software and licence key, if not you should look at purchasing the operating system yourself. A standard version of Windows 8 is around £75 from Amazon, a store may charge more for the software and labour on top. However, installing Windows 8 is fairly straight forward following the instructions on screen and it should provide the option to transfer your files to the new install.

Hardware problems can be tricky to diagnose at a glance, hence why companies offer and ‘No Fix – No Fee’ service, with this they should be able to sit down and diagnose your issue given the information you’ve provided and their own technical knowledge.

For this service you’d be looking at paying labour costs which are either charged at an hourly or flat rate, on top of the labour you’ll also need to consider the price of replacement parts which are either held in stock by companies or sourced at the RRP. Personally I prefer customer pays the RRP as it affords the repair company to shop around for the best price helping to keep the cost of repairs low.

Hourly rates can vary and it’s up to you to decide if it is cost effective for remote or physical support. I would recommend a flat rate labour charge as repairs can become complicated and take longer than expected meaning a price increase. Flat rate labour usually starts around £50 upwards.

Call out and remote support is usually charged at half hourly or hourly rates dependant on your needs. For a call out look to pay around £20-30 for the first hour which should then be dropped to £10-15 per hour thereafter. A technician should be able to diagnose your issue in less than an hour and advise if it can be repaired onsite or should be taken back to a workshop.

For remote support charges vary, companies will usually pay a subscription to use commercial software like ‘Log me in’ so costs will need to be recovered, look to pay around £15-£20 an hour though some companies will charge more.

UKIT-Systems, based in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, provide a comprehensive range of IT Support that can have your systems running as they should be, giving you peace of mind. They also provide a quality computer support service, with call out and workshop based abilities and work alongside Datawreck who specialise in data recovery.

 For more information visit their website or call them on 01782 898836.

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