Saturday, April 23, 2011

A Computer Repair Man's Rant

Computers in general are volatile systems. One minute they're crunching data by the gigabyte the next they've run across a script error and will be shut down immediately. Of course all computers are not built the same. Some larger companies, HP, Dell, Acer, Gateway, Sony, to name a few, offer great support in terms of drivers and help information. They protect their reputation by building the systems that last longer. Alas there will always be a market for cheaper goods. Enter the clones, and after market China products. Don't get me wrong, I'm lovin' the great price, it's the price you have to pay later down the line that will kill you.
Recently a customer from Rialto Ca brought a computer to my office that was constantly restarting. It didn't have a prayer. At first Windows would load and run for a half an hour then restart. Hours Later it began restarting every five seconds. I did suspect it may be the power supply. Switched it out, no difference. Exchanged the board and bingo! No restart. The damaged board was an ECS 'elite groups'. Funny cause I had that same brand mobo a  few years ago with about the same problem.
Now for my rant. The customer brought a second computer to my office and figured I could work with the extra parts. The board was a Soyo Dragon 2. The computer flashes a screen displaying when beginning to  boot. I looked it up the site is non-existant. So much for finding the drivers there. The crazy part about these two computers was that I was able to pull the SATA HDD out of the ECS and run the pre-existing copy of Windows in the Dragon 2! It actually started accidentally as I was about to load Windows XP from CD. The only problem was of course it needed the different drivers. In cases like these I google it, and check the forums and cnet It took some time. Conclusion- spend a few extra bucks and avoid custom boards. You'll save you're self a lot of hassle down the line. Once you have the right network driver working you're golden. From there it's a breeze. Windows updates, Anti-virus loaded. Having the internet is really the only reason they want their computer fixed in the first place right!?

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Software Toolkit of a Computer Repair Man

There are a series of different maneuvers and software applications that a computer tech needs to carry with him inorder to be prepared with going out to visit a job.
Tool box Items of Computer Repair:

  • USB jump drive, or External drive (to store data temporarily, or load the OS faster than a CD) 

  • OS disks (Microsoft Windows XP, Vista, or 7)

  • Anti-Virus (Dr. Spyware, Avira, MS Security Essentials, Malware bytes, etc.)

  • Ophcrack (boots from linux kernel and cracks lost Log In passwords)

  • Internet Connection (Drivers for wireless, network, sound, video, printers, etc.)

  • Si Sandra (to search and identify components to know what drivers to look for)

  • Phone (customer contact, possible help from a friend in a pinch)

  • Do you know of other essential computer repair tools?

    Sunday, April 17, 2011

    Blue Screen Error Proves MS Disk the Culprit

    I received a custom built computer from customer with the Windows install disk still in the drive. Along with the computer he also handed me the CD plastic with the original serial. Figuring it was easier to just start the install from the disk that was already in the drive, I went ahead and booted from the CD. It would load for less than a minute before showing a blue screen with an error: "0x0000007E (0xc0000005, 0xf748E0BF, 0xF78DA208, 0xF78D9F08). Shrug possibly a random glitch. Two tries later I started going through the BIOS and hardware to find the problem. The RAM chip was installed in the second slot away from the CPU. Switched it over to the first slot to receive the same error.
    When I first started the computer it wouldn't recognize my USB mouse or keyboard. Using the old school mouse connection allowed me to at least click the user name to try to enter Windows. It wouldn't load at all, just display a solid blue screen no text. The OS may have some how been loaded from this broken disk only to support this broken system. Problem Solved: Finally ejecting this disk that came with the computer and inserting my own, the system loaded. Inspecting this faulty disk I found a small yet deep scratch in the center right where the data begins.

    Friday, April 15, 2011

    Gateway M series Laptop Error 02FA: Main Fan Error!!

    "Error 02FA: Main Fan Error !! !! Please turn off system and check your CPU fan !!"
     The fan on the Gateway M series laptop I was fixing was spinning up immediately the second after rebooting, then stoping cold. Since the fan did spin when the computer was turned on it was obviously still good. I flipped the laptop over removed the one screw and plastic panel covering the CPU fan and RAM. Removed and replaced the RAM, and it solved the problem. I received the suggestion to start it without memory installed and see if the behavior of fan goes back to normal. (computers do this when no memory is installed).