How many times have you tried to unscrew a PC case with a pair of scissors? I've done it more times than I care to admit. There is no question that having the right tool for the job can be the difference between a quick fix and three hours of sheer agony. But what are the essential tools every PC tech needs? TechRepublic member Hunter_french recently asked this very question in our Technical Q&A. "I am about to purchase tools to assemble a hardware repair/service toolkit," Hunter wrote. "I would be interested in hearing what tools I should purchase." Several TechRepublic members responded with a variety of options. Read their suggestions and then submit your own ideas for the perfect PC toolkit.
How do you get the most bang for your buck?
Hunter works on a variety of PCs and servers and performs component repair and assembly. Hunter wants to avoid buying low-quality equipment but doesn't have the money for a top-of-the-line kit. Wanting to spend around $100, Hunter would like to buy the tools from a national hardware store, such as Sears.
A screwdriver, pliers, and a flashlight
TechRepublic member Jereg suggested that Hunter can get by with only a few essential tools. "When I went through Compaq Hardware Training, they gave us a screwdriver with six bits in the handle," Jereg wrote. "With that one screwdriver, I can work on every Compaq PC or server made. (It even works on other brands.)" Jereg recommends that PC techs carry a quality screwdriver from a hardware store, not from a computer or electronics store. The screwdriver should have a long shaft with replaceable bits or multiple shafts, each with a different bit. You should have several Phillips, flathead, Torx, and whatever else is available. A magnetized screwdriver is also okay.
A good set of needlenose pliers and cutters are also a must-have, and Jereg recommends investing in a small flashlight, his "best friend for tired eyes." A parts claw/retriever for dropped screws can also come in handy, as can a cable tester if you want to spend a little more money.
Don't forget the case
Once you've assembled your tools, you'll need something to carry them in. According to both Jereg and Grump, however, this doesn't mean you have to spend a lot of money. "Some fancy case does not make [you a] better technician," Grump wrote. "I carry my tools in a zipper bank bag. The tools I seldom need, I leave in the trunk in a plastic shoebox ($0.99). I've been doing this for close to 20 years and still have not spent a lot of money on a fancy case." Jereg spent a little more for a contractor's briefcase that has a regular briefcase on one side and a zip-down compartment for tools on the other. But this was still only $20 at his local hardware store.
What's in your ideal IT support toolkit?
Now that you've heard these TechRepublic members' recommendations, what other tools are on your must-have toolkit list? How about chip pullers or a multimeter? Do you carry common spare parts with you, and if so, what are they? Post a comment to this article or send us a note and let us know what you carry in your IT toolkit.
Ask your TechRepublic peers for advice and assistance
If you have a question that you can't find an answer to, post it in TechRepublic's Technical Q&A section. Other TechRepublic members will try to answer your question in return for TechPoints.
Bill Detwiler has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop support specialist in the social research and energy industries. He has bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Louisville, where he has also lectured on computer crime and crime prevention.