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Advice / Recommendations

By rickporritt35 ·
Hi - I am a web designer struggling to earn enough at present :^( I am planning to branch out a little and offer some additional general PC services to local folk:

Repairs, upgrades, virus removal, troubleshooting, help with home networking etc.

My experience of these things is mainly just that - personal experience - I'm not from a tech background (albeit I did a night class for PC repair some time ago). I'd like to obtain a really good, really practical, really up-to-date and relevant book that covers all of the obvious topics. I'd also like to obtain a really useful set of indispensable 'utilities' on disk(s).

Can anyone recommend either?

Are there some current 'must-haves' in one neat package for PC technicians? (I have all the start-up disks and few other bits - ad-hoc). This will be a very 'low-end' operation aimed solely at household PCs as opposed to corporate networks.

Thanks in advance for all help/advice

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by JEPott In reply to Advice / Recommendations

I don't really have a book to suggest, but here is some advice for a low-end operation geared toward the home users. Know the basic stuff... how to upgrade (CPU's, Memory, Video Cards, PCI Cards, Etc...), get familiar with backing up data and doing re-installations, make sure you are up to speed on the latest Viruses and SpyWare and how to remove them (Use utilities like Stinger, SpyBot, AdAware, MS Anti-Spyware), Get a copy of Knoppix and become familiar with it (it's a very valuable tool), know the basics on setting up email accounts, and get an understanding of peer-to-peer Networking (both wired and wireless).

I hope that gives you a bit of a start... Let me know if you would like some more in-depth info on any of this.


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by rickporritt35 In reply to

Thanks - that's all sound advice of course. Most of what you mention I have some limited experience with. My thinking/concern is: although I can 'get by' am I missing information/better options for doing these jobs. For example, I know hard drives come as IDE and ATI (I think!) and that memory comes as SDram and DDram. I guess that certain types of 'cards' have different compatibility issues. Of course I can look things up on Google once I realise that I have a problem but I was really hoping to find a single pratcical resource that will fill me in on the various options for the most common situations encountered with different hardware choices. Also for the different Windows versions - again, as another example... I have loaded several Windows versions at some stage (98, ME, XP) and I now realise that there are several options of how to go about a basic clean install for each of the various versions of Windows but I'd love to have a manual to hand that listed each version and outlined each possible method with the pros and cons.

Thanks for letting me know about Knoppix. I've not heard of this before and am just looking up some info. So far I see that it is the unix OS which runs direct from a disk -Yes? So, would you use this for say cleaning a virus? I.E. the AV on the disk is fully up to date and then you can boot from the disk and do a scan on the H/D that's infected- is that one use? how else would you use it?

(BTW - have selected 'unacceptable' because it seems that's the only way to send these comments but not close the thread at present!?)

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by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to Advice / Recommendations

Boy have you opened a can of worms there! Ram is actually SD RAM or RD RAM and there are two distinct types of both Non Parity Checked {Normal] and ECC which is much more expensive and doesn't work with a lot of M'Boards built for the Non- Parity Checked stuff. With SD RAM they are exactly the same socket and you can get into real trouble there but with RD Ram they have slightly different sockets so you can o not fit an ECC Stick to a non ECC M'Board.

Then just to mix things up even further the latest crop of M'Boards us RD RAM 2 which is different again but generally speaking it is just plain and simple faster for the newer CPU's.

As for a good Utility Set you can not go past The Ultimate Boot CD available for download from

If you are thinking about upgrading RAM you have to be extremely careful here as well as you can fit a different brand of RAM and get into all sorts of trouble as the RAM Sticks don't like to play nice together and come up with all sorts of screwy errors. When I do RAM upgrades I normally replace all of the installed RAM with brand Name stuff that I know will work and not give any problems. I give the owner back the stick and advise them against fitting it if there is actually room and let them know that they are welcome to fit the RAM but at their own risk. Generally they don't want the old RAM particularly if it was a small stick in size. I've only had 2 occasions where a computer has been returned with problems after a RAM Upgrade and on each occasion it was where the owner had fitted the removed RAM and it didn't work properly.

Problems can range from just not POSTing to falling over without reason when it has been running for any length of time.


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by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to

This is VERY IMPORTANT if you are doing field work you'll have to have a very good Insurance Cover for any damage that you may do and even more importantly if you are having people come to your Home you'll have to have a very large Public Liability Insurance Cover in place to cover yourself in case someone injures themselves while at your place. Domestic House Holders Insurance will not cover these injuries if you are running a Business from Home so you'll need to have that sorted out long before you have anyone come near your place.

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by rickporritt35 In reply to

Thanks EVERYONE! - great help - now for the homework!

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by CG IT In reply to Advice / Recommendations

Scott Mueller upgrading and repairing PC's is probably the best all around reference book on PC's. Give you really good technical details about how things work and what things are in a PC.
Think he's up to the 16th edition.

$50.00 at and well worth the $$.

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by CG IT In reply to

Scott covers everything associated with a PC. What buses are and how they work, the workings of POST and BIOS, to monitors etc.

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by CG IT In reply to

If you want to know what to have in your PC repair bag, ought to ask TheChas.

I carry the following items:
electrostatic mat for putting PC parts on
electrostatic wrist strap
small vacumn cleaner [in the big roll case]
tool pouches with assorted tools [basic stuff all non magnetic]
RJ-45 crimper
RJ-45 connectors
can of air
NIC card [PCI]
just about every size and lenght tie wraps including the velcro kind

loop clips [cable organizers]
Black & Decker portable screw driver [slot and phillips head bits]
IDE cables
floppy cables
blank CDs
boot floppy- DOS
Winkey boot CD [resets the admin password if everyone forgot it]
XP SP2 CD [no one likes to download it cuz it's so big and takes to much time]
electrostatic bags
the small Mag Flash Light with extra batteries
I carry about 25ft of Cat 5 cable without connectors [in case I have to make a cable or cross over cable]
paper, pencils, for notes
electrician's tape
Wireless NIC driver CD

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by CG IT In reply to

ah, my laptop but that should go without having to say it.

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by CG IT In reply to

what I don't cary is an AV product with AV definitions. I used to do that but I spent more time every week making AV boot CDs with the most current definitions than it was worth. Now I just get the thing running and go online for a scan because 90% of home users have some sort of high speed internet connection [except my mom who at 70 still uses a dial up].

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