Computer Repair vs. Computer Replace: What makes sense for you?

computer repair picture of up-to-date windows 7 home computer

Is it time for Windows 7 in your house?

Well, it’s finally happened – what computer repair pros have dreaded for years. The cost of buying a new computer has finally dropped to the point where the computer itself has become  disposable, and any decision to repair a computer, even if repairing it simply means paying for a professional virus removal, has to be weighed against the  cost to replace the computer instead.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating stuffing the earth’s dwindling waste and recycling resources with junked computers, nor am I suggesting that arbitrarily buying a new computer is the cure-all for when things go wrong and the old computer needs repair work.  Rather, I’m pointing out to folks who may not have noticed, that the price of an entry-level desktop computer tower with (humor me and let me get my geek on for a sec here) Windows 7 Home Premium, 4 gigabytes of RAM, and a Terabyte or more of Hard Drive space, is currently retailing for as little as $399- and that’s just off-the-shelf pricing!  With a little shopper’s diligence you may be able to shave another $50-100 off that price. Netbook computers (“mini” laptops if you’re not familiar with the term) have been available in the $249-399 range since introduced a few years back.  Even full-blown laptop computers with normal-sized keyboards and screens (for those of us who’s fingers and eyes are not aging so gracefully), are hovering in the $500-700 range and can regularly be found on sale for as little as $399!

So, armed with this knowledge, let’s explore a couple scenarios, one in which replacement is the best option and another where doing a repair of the existing computer is still the more sensible approach. And then we’ll wrap up with what it means to you, and highlight some of the questions to ask and values to consider when making your own computer repair vs. replace decision:

Scenario 1

Laptop video / motherboard failure:  Let’s take the computer repair call I got last week from a woman in Sharon, MA. She told me the screen on her laptop computer had failed some time ago and that she had been using an external monitor with it, but now, even the external monitor wasn’t working.

Decision: Replace

Instead of signing myself up to repair her computer at a cost of $300-400 to replace the motherboard (which, in this case, would have been necessary because the video card is built into the motherboard), I suggested instead that she buy a new laptop and have me over to set it up, connect to her wireless network, transfer her data from the old computer to the new computer, set up email or other online accounts, and make sure she’s got adequate data backup and virus protection going forward.

Why the decision to replace?

  • Cost of repair close to cost of entry-level replacement computer
  • Casual use of computer (email, facebook, surf the web, and occasional word processing) means low-cost entry-level system would be adequate for her needs
  • New computer would have greater power, speed, and storage capacity
  • New computer would have Windows 7 vs. old computer Windows Vista meaning better compatibility with hardware, peripherals, and software going forward
  • New computer would have 12-month warranty vs. 30-day warranty on repair

In short, had we gone with a repair, she would have spent almost as much as getting a new computer just to get back to being whole. By replacing, although more expensive when you take into account the cost of the new computer plus set-up and data transfer services, has the advantage of moving her forward into the future with greater speed and capacity, a more modern operating system, and a more comprehensive warranty that makes the extra couple hundred dollars well worth it.

Scenario 2

Desktop Motherboard / Hard Drive Failure:  Here’s a case where I was called out to a small business in Seekonk, MA. They were using a “middle-aged” Windows Vista computer as the central computer for the business, running some proprietary business automation functions, and also doing the business accounting via Quickbooks.  When I arrived onsite, the system had no video signal and would not start up.  I performed some diagnostics and recovery and was able to get the system to start up but would not  trust it to run the business at that point as both the motherboard and the hard disk drive were suspect.

Decision: Repair

I explained the repair vs. replace options to the business owner, leaning heavily towards replace until we started talking about the proprietary software that controls specific devices and functions of his business.  As it turns out, the software was also middle-aged, and the original installation CDs were long lost never to be found again.  With the cost of replacing that software running into the thousands of dollars, the decision to repair became obvious.

Why the decision to repair?

  • Cost of replacing proprietary software and/or related devices would cost thousands of dollars
  • Uncertain compatibility of proprietary software with Windows 7.

In conclusion, it was decided to repair the system, ultimately not by replacing the motherboard, but by tracking down and purchasing a compatible used computer online, and migrating the hard drive image from the old computer to the “new” one.

Your Scenario…

Now of course, every situation is different, and you too may be facing a repair vs. replace decision, if not today, certainly in the future.  Here are some important things to consider if you are faced with that decision:

  • What is the total cost of repair, including parts and labor?
  • What is the total cost of replacement, including computer, applications, and services?
  • Would you need set-up & data transfer services or can you handle that yourself?
  • How old is the computer being repaired? For example, does it make sense to stay with the older Windows XP system, or is it time to move to a Windows 7 computer?
  • Do you have original CDs or installation media and activation keys for software that you want to bring forward to a new computer?
  • Is the software you want to bring forward compatible with the newer hardware and/or Windows version?
  • Are you okay with change?  Realistically, a lot of older folks have become comfortable with their existing computers and how they use their computers, and frankly, the thought of change can be disconcerting.  Don’t fret, you’re not alone! This is one of the big reasons for the continued popularity of Windows XP, and is completely understandable.
computer repair or replacement, that is the question

When I saw this log-in failure, I suggested replacing the computer instead of repairing it.

In conclusion, what I’ve found from helping hundreds of customers with this decision is that although costs can play an overriding role, the decision doesn’t always come down to dollars and cents.  I recently fixed an old MS-DOS computer (a mid 1980’s vintage computer… think pre-mouse!) for a gentleman in Stoneham, MA, who used it to do his accounting.  When I suggested the old machine could fail again and he should think about modernizing, he simply responded, “if it fails again I’ll call you again. I’m 76 years old and don’t feel like learning a new computer!”

 

 

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What sets Stickynote apart from the competition??

Original rainbow photo by stickynote owner and Chief Customer Caregiver, Andy Trask.
                  Be unique.

Today I was asked:  What makes you different from your competitors?

What a great question! Every business owner should know the answer to this question, and in a field like mine that’s full-to-bursting with every flavor of competitor from the megalithic corporations like Best Buy / Geek Squad, Staples / Easytech, to hometown techs, geeks, nerds, and consultants galore, answering and answering well, is kind of a put-up-or-shut-up moment don’t you think?

What I found as I carefully thought my way through the answer is that this is not just a question of who’s better or why.  It’s a declaration of our identity and a statement that defines our niche in the market.  So without further ado:

What sets Stickynote! Tech Services apart from our competitors:

What a long strange trip it’s been! In 1982, Stickynote! Tech Service’s owner and Chief Customer Caregiver, Andy Trask, joined the Personal Computer revolution, accepting a ground floor position at Canton-based IBM PC clone reseller, Leading Edge Hardware Products.  However, his knack for explaining technical things to non-technical people soon landed him a promotion into the telephone tech support group and the rest, as they say, is history.  Andy has had thirty years experience manning and managing quality and tech support functions in the personal computer industry of which the last eleven years have been spent performing in-home mobile geek services for residential and small business customers.

As a middle-aged baby boomer, Andy offers a maturity and perspective that his fellow boomers and similarly more mature customers can appreciate.  Let’s face it; unlike our kids (or our kid’s kids as the case may be), we did not grow up with computers in the home or at school.  It’s all still pretty new and a bit nerve-wracking for a lot of us, and knowing that the person coming into your home to help you is “one of us,” is reassuring, like the old-time doctor who made house calls.

We specialize in taking care of everything from the smallest glitches and simplest questions to the biggest crashes and most complex headaches, and we do it with no pressure, no judging, and no techno-babble. If you feel nervous or embarrassed, like you should know more about computers, don’t worry, you’re not alone, we hear that from customers like you every day and it’s okay, we’re here to help.

– Andy

ROUTER – Not What I Meant: Stickynote! Gallery of Technowisdom

can a computer be hooked up to a woodworking router? The answer is yes, but it's not very useful...

Techno-wisdom photo courtesy of Stickynote! Tech Services, Stickypc.com.

Feel free to borrow, share, copy, distribute, lol at, or even roflmao!

Stickynote! Tech Services provides friendly, expert, in-home service at reasonable rates to families, individuals, and small businesses in southeastern massachusetts. Services include computer and device installation, computer repair, computer troubleshooting, home networking, wireless or “wifi” networking, network and telephone wiring, Internet and Email set up, configuration and troubleshooting. Home entertainment troubleshooting and connections.  In fact, just about anything related to computers and high-tech is fair game, so if you have a high-tech headache try Stickynote! Tech Services for quick relief!

508-369-9077        andy@stickypc.com

It’s time for change…

Do you ever feel like the big companies have forgotten how to take care of their customers?

Or perhaps they’ve just lost sight of who you are in their rush to make profits for shareholders. No matter though, if you’re tired of trying to find good, reliable tech help; tired of settling for mediocre one-size-fits-all service offerings from big companies like Best Buy / Geek Squad, Staples, Verizon, or Comcast; tired of feeling like nobody is really in your corner looking out for you… try STICKYNOTE! Tech Services.

 

andy trask owner and sole proprietor - stickynote! tech services
Andy Trask, Stickynote! Owner and Chief Customer Caregiver

My name is Andy Trask, and Stickynote! Tech Services is my company.  When you work with me, there’s no sales pressure, no technobabble, and no giant corporation – just a mature and highly experienced veteran of the home computer service industry who is determined to succeed by treating every customer to an unexpected level of personal service.

Find out what it’s like to get world-class service wrapped in a friendly one-on-one relationship.  Call today to be delighted!

Call me personally:  508-369-9077
Andy

 

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