Computers – just about everyone has one these days, and it’s hard to get by without a machine of some kind for work, home or play. But whether you are dealing with a 10-year-old PC or a custom-built gaming rig, troubleshooting computer issues is part of life for most people.
Head technician, Michael Case, who has over 15 years’ experience with computers, said the majority of issues he sees are with hard-drives. The other two most common issues he comes across, are virus and malware infections, and phone or internet scams.
Mr Case suggested there were a few things people could do to minimise risk. “Having a reliable anti-virus is extremely important,” he said. “Unfortunately these days it is not enough though, and experience plays a big role in knowing how to spot fake websites, emails or programs. Be extremely cautious of ‘free’ products online, especially illegal downloading of music and movies, as these will generally come with malicious software.”
His number one rule was have repairs done in person. “If you cannot find the person who is offering to help with your computer in person, for example you get a phone call from ‘Microsoft’ offering to repair your computer, then do not let them in your computer or give them any details at all. These are always a scam.
“Take your machine to a local computer store instead – that way you have a physical location to find the person if something is not right.”
Mr Case also recommended people make regular back-ups of any data they consider important. “I have had countless conversations with people who have lost everything because their computer broke and all of their family’s photos were lost,” he said.
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Information and communication technology administrator Greg Boardley has 18 years’ industry experience, and he offered the following tips. “Always keep the device you are using updated and restarted regularly,” he said. “Updates help the device run more smoothly.
“Virus protection is also quite important, there are plenty of scammers out there waiting to steal your information for their own benefit. Never save your passwords when prompted by your browser.”
So what should you do if your current machine is on the blink? “Always contact a local technician – never trust anyone online as you have no way of knowing who they really are,” Mr Case said. “Unfortunately the people who run computer scams are trained in IT in some form and what they say is very convincing.”
He suggested there were a few important things to ask, to make sure you know what you are getting. “It is important to ask what sort of warranty or guarantee a computer technician will offer for their services,” Mr Case said. “Most hardware will have its own manufacturer’s warranty, however there are a lot of services that are outside of warranty.
“It is also extremely important to check with other people or online reviews about the quality of service the particular company provide.”
Mr Boardley agreed, saying people could try some troubleshooting themselves, but should seek professional advice if out of their depth. “A lot of problems with computers are generally quite easy to fix and most vendors have help pages you can go to and try and troubleshoot,” he said.
“I also find the power of social media nowadays in locating a reputable repairer is good. But if you are unsure or not confident in fixing it yourself definitely seek help.” He also suggested word of mouth recommendations.
If you’re in the market for a new machine, Mr Case recommended talking to a professional about designing a tower specific to your needs. “Gaming and graphics design machines are very similar in what they require, depending on the level of gaming and the type of design,” he said.
“For people who travel and predominately use word processing or emails, the needs are much lower than that of gaming and design. That being said it is important to pickup a lightweight machine that has a solid state drive for speed and battery life.” Regular hard drives are extremely easy to damage, he added.
“It is also important to consider if touch screen is something you really want as it increases the price rather significantly, both at purchase and repair.”
Mr Boardley recommended buying machine with a solid state drive (SSD) and at least 8GB of ram. “This will generally cover most people’s usage requirements,” he said. “The bottom line is what can you afford, if you have a bit of cash then it’s worth it.”
Ultimately you get what you pay for when it comes to computers.