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  • #2193868

    How long would you work on a computer?


    by zlitocook ·

    I answered a tech question about some one working on a computer for another person. He was trying to clean out a virus, spyware, malware etc.
    I said I now give two hours tops on fixing/ cleaning a computer for friends. Because for friends I do it at a much lower rate if not free. Free depends on how good a friend they are!

    If the person tells me that they do not care how long it takes, they just want thier computer back, I tell them it may not be worth it because some virus/ Trojans change files and programs.

    I give all computers two hours if I can not restore it to a normal condition I tell them that.
    I give them the choice to take it to a store and let them contact the stores in the area. Most of the time the stores will tell them it will be four to six weeks before they can even let them know if they can fix the computer.

    I let them know that I will try to save any data that I can and reinstall thier software.

    How long do you give a computer repair job? Even if you are being paid to do it?

All Comments

  • Author
    • #3165464

      For software fixes

      by mjd420nova ·

      In reply to How long would you work on a computer?

      I usually try not to spend any more than 3 hours attempting to get the software right, whether for free, discount, or barter. If cash is involved, I do my best for as long as they want me to. When all else fails, a recovery of data and such shouldn’t take more than 2 hours, using either USB drives, or a second drive, and even sometimes a CD drive. Hardware seldom takes more than an hour to nail down the bad part and replace it.

    • #3165451

      2 hours is about right :)

      by deadly ernest ·

      In reply to How long would you work on a computer?

      In my experience if you cannot ‘clean’ the operating system and the software in two hours then you should be looking to save data and rebuild. With Win 2K and Win XP I reduce this to one hour AFTER trying the ‘Restore’ function. In the past I have fought with a badly infected machine for days and found no improvement beyond the poinr reached after about 90 minutes work.

      If possible I use the rebuild to partition the drive with C: drive having only the operating system from then on and ensure that ‘Restore’ is set and operational if the OS has it.

    • #3165362

      I am confused by your two hours

      by jdclyde ·

      In reply to How long would you work on a computer?

      It can take longer than two hours to run AV/spyware/malware scans.

      Depending on how bad the problem is, I recommend a wipe and load and chalk that up as three hours of my time, IF they have the driver disks. Add an hour if I have to download them. (a computer sitting there installing windoze does not count as time I spend on it)

      I also insist on taking the computer with me and work on it as I do other things.

      If this is a “professional” job that I HAVE to sit in someones house or business, the clock ticks from the time I leave the house to the time I get home and takes as long as it takes.

      • #3165324

        [i] [b] did you think it should be minutes – -??[/i] [/b]

        by gadgetgirl ·

        In reply to I am confused by your two hours


        Absolutely ir-re-sist-a-bubble!!



        • #3165295

          Well, that would depend on what

          by jdclyde ·

          In reply to [i] [b] did you think it should be minutes – -??[/i] [/b]

          “it” you are refering to?


        • #3164537

          I love to see the look on their faces

          by neil higgins ·

          In reply to Well, that would depend on what

          when after fidling with the OS,laughing my socks off,at their lack of security,then smashing it to bits with a sledgehammer!!!
          Nope…can’t be fixed..I say!
 is 06/06/06

        • #3164376

          Muhahaha pleased to meet you

          by zlitocook ·

          In reply to I love to see the look on their faces

          Hope you guess my name
          Ah, what?s puzzling you?
          Is the nature of my game, oh yeah?
          Im a man of wealth and taste
          Is just the nature of my game?
          Just as every cop is a criminal
          And all the sinners saints
          As heads is tails
          Just call me Lucifer
          Cause Im in need of some restraint
          Have some sympathy, and some taste
          Use all your well-learned politesse
          Or I?ll lay your soul to waste, um yeah
          Well the users all ran out of the building and I just stood there and laughed 😉
          And this was just an update to XP! Just wait for a major upgrade 🙂

        • #3144491

          sympathy for zlito

          by kingofallisee ·

          In reply to Muhahaha pleased to meet you

          Thank God there are still Stones fans that can still be twisted and understood.

        • #3320852

          any industry standards

          by rpoccia ·

          In reply to I love to see the look on their faces

          I know when i go to a mechanic an tell me they are going to fix a part there is a book that tells them how many hours it will take. As a result a fast mechanic will finish before that time a bad one after. In the end i am only paying labor based off the book time hours. Is there something in the computer industry that is the same. For example 2 hours to reinstall an os. 20 min to reinstall a dvd drive etc.

      • #3164381

        I agree with you but

        by zlitocook ·

        In reply to I am confused by your two hours

        I have most of this down to a science, if they have an anti viral installed and it is up to date. You can check logs, check the event viewer, check start up logs. Look at the IE cache, history and see if it starts with the saved or default page.
        Run SFC, check installed programs and add/remove programs.
        Run stinger from safe mode, I have all of my scanners on a write protected USB drive (it is a bootable 40-gig drive, with Bartpe and has an independent Internet connection, email and av.).
        This drive is faster then most hard drives I love the way it works! It runs on system memory and creates a virtual drive to down load and run av. and other programs.
        I give two hours because I have worked on a ton of computers and if you round off the time it takes to work on computers some were ten hours, some were just a matter of going back to a restore point. So I picked two hours, you need a stop point because a good tech. will run them selves into the ground trying to fix a computer! Set a stopping point and stick to it.

        • #3144552

          I see

          by jdclyde ·

          In reply to I agree with you but

          so the two hours isn’t really based on how long it takes, but more of how you feel based on past experiences. Not knowing your past experinces, I didn’t understand how you came up with that time.

          Always good to have a system. 😀

        • #3145032

          15 minutes tops

          by bforbush ·

          In reply to I agree with you but

          you have worked on a ton of computers, well truthfully thats a lot of wait so you should only allow 15 minutes to diagonse and then wipe and rebuild as with today’s software ghost, livestate recovery, most manufactures have their images on the pc download the data wipe and rebuild then update 15 minutes tops

        • #3145009

          15mins tops?? impossible here in my country

          by xygnal ·

          In reply to 15 minutes tops

          i’ve been a tech support guy in a big company for a year now. i understand that we should give as little time possible and quickly solve such issues regarding repairs. but here in my country(where many companies still have pre-P4 class processors, still with 5400rpm drives, 128mb or less ram) it’s not always possible to service computers as fast due to system speed limitations. well of course, with a decent system, an hour or so should be enough. 😛

        • #3144766


          by banyangod ·

          In reply to 15 minutes tops

          I cannot see 15 minutes being feesable in any way.

          The simple solution of wipe and reinstall only works in a coporate environment where essential data files and documents would be kept on network servers.

          If you are dealing with a home owner you can’t just say “Well, sorry but i have to delete all your data”.

          If you seriously thin the OS install is a lost a cause you still need to at least offer backing up their data first. I always carry with me an USB external drive enclosure so that I can connect the drive to my Laptop or another machine of the clients to create network or cd/dvd backups of their data.

        • #3145622

          Well, I can see 15 minutes rarely

          by nilt ·

          In reply to Minutes…What???

          >>I cannot see 15 minutes being feesable in any way.<< I can see a solution only taking 15 minutes in some cases. Heck, quite often, I know what’s wrong within 2 minutes and have it fixed in 5.

          The thread, though, as I understood it, was more of a How long do you work on a system before cutting off further troubleshooting, assuming you don’t reach a solution.

          I understand why there?s the 15 minute cutoff in a corporate environment. I?ve worked in those environments myself. I know from experience, however, that there are more cases where going a little beyond your cutoff will end up taking less time to resolve the issue than a fast nuke and re-image. Granted re-imaging works and is fast. The rare instances where you actually needed to do so, however, just don?t justify it as the only solution.

    • #3164467

      By the time they get to me

      by wallowamichael ·

      In reply to How long would you work on a computer?

      It’s usually already too late.

      I spend about 10 minutes finding out how ‘bad’ the system is infected. (It’s never NOT infected)

      Then I grab all the data I can to external drive or network or somewhere safe, and completely reload the OS. That takes 2-3 hours start to finish, and there’s no leftovers or ‘warranty’ issues… (“you didn’t get ALL the viruses!”)

      Most of my corporate customers also keep Ghost (or similar) images of hard drives, and company data is kept on the network. Very easy to wipe and reinstall in less than 30 minutes without having to wait for two or three scans to finish.

      I know a couple of guys who keep Ghost images of home user pcs, as well. I’d say overall it saves them time, even if it seems to me a nightmare to manage all that media and storage space.

      • #3143460

        The problem here

        by w2ktechman ·

        In reply to By the time they get to me

        Yes, I agree mostly, but I dont jump to reload. Because then all of the licensing, and alternate softwaer (user installed) needs reloading as well. I usually make an attempt, after an Hour or so I am better to know where I am standing. If I think it will take many more hours, then I call it a rebuild and start backing up, if I think I can lick it in the next couple of hours or less, then that is my battle plan.
        In other words, I am not too quick to rebuild, but the option is always on the table.

    • #3143719

      Working for free

      by paul ·

      In reply to How long would you work on a computer?

      One have to ask do I do this for living or have I got a hobby. Because if you are doing it for living you should always charge fee. Yes, you can create a discount fee, but as a business man, you can not work for free. If you do this for friend then be a friend and don’t charge. But limit this to real friends only; let your ego sleep when it comes to buddies from pub. I do not do free work for anybody but the closest family and few close friends. The other friends almost sent me broke once.

      • #3144515

        Yeah I have a

        by zlitocook ·

        In reply to Working for free

        Friend that I have done alot for because we have known each other for thirty years. And keeps asking for more, another upgrade or do you have a better DVD writer? At first I bought the things he needed but as time went on I started telling him about great deals at CompUSA or other stores. And that I did not have what he wanted, you have to cut off people some where.

      • #3141563

        Pay vs Free

        by dr_zinj ·

        In reply to Working for free

        If I’m getting paid for it, then it’s my time, plus materials. And it’s not necessary for the person to be present while doing the repairs.

        If I’m doing this as a friend, or worse, a family member; I damn well expect that person to be there, fetching, carrying, holding the dummy end of something, bringing me a coffee or coke, or patiently waiting for my next request. They definately shouldn’t be waving at me as they drive off for some other sort of entertainment, or parked in the other room in front of the boob tube.

    • #3143707

      Well, it depends…

      by Anonymous ·

      In reply to How long would you work on a computer?

      Normally I try my best to sort the problem within 2 hours as well. One client asked me to see why her computer wasn’t coming on. Under 3 minutes I found the problem, the power switch wasn’t plugged into the motherboard properly. LOL.

      So it depends how quickly you can isolate the job and how willing you are to get the PC back to normal again.

    • #3143697

      I’ve spent 8+ hours for free

      by rlgoers ·

      In reply to How long would you work on a computer?

      Call me a sucker… I have EASILY spent 8+ hours on a friend’s machine, cleaning out infections and other mal-ware. I have done that TWICE on the same computer in the past year. Most of the problems were installed by kids who are click-happy, and just press “yes” to any pop-up that shows its face. They also have every flavor of chat client you can think of running.

      • #3144514

        Been there done that

        by zlitocook ·

        In reply to I’ve spent 8+ hours for free

        MS has software that can stop this kind of thing now; it’s called some thing like shared computer. It lets the admin. Of that computer decide what other users can run and install.
        On any new install I tell the customer that you need to create an account for each user and limit the people that can do harm to the computer. After all programs are installed I create a restore point so if the kids, don?t you love them. Decide to install every thing they see you can go back to the first install.

        • #3144422

          Exactly what I did the second time!

          by rlgoers ·

          In reply to Been there done that

          Yeah, I didn’t get into too much detail before. The system was originally a WinME setup. That was bad enough… The second time I got it (all screwed up) I convinced the owner to put WinXP on it. He bought, I configured. I locked the kids’ account out of pretty much everything. The problem was – he’s not computer savvy at all. His kids are way beyond him in ability, and soon their whining gave way to him opening up privileges on their account. They had five flavors of IM up and loaded almost immediately. The only good thing is; now they?re whining that their account is slow, and sometimes can?t access the internet ? while the admin account still runs fine. Go figure??? The problem is; it won’t be long before they whine their way into him letting them on the admin account. We all know where that will lead. Yup – a trip to the local computer repair shop! I already told him I wouldn’t clean it a 3rd time. 🙂

        • #3144129


          by zlitocook ·

          In reply to Exactly what I did the second time!

          And when he takes to the local shop like a CompUSA or a small shop he will get, this could take up to two weeks or more and we will get back to you on the price!
          A good friend of mine did not want to bother me with a memory upgrade and he took it to best buy. Well a week latter and $200.00 bucks latter he got his computer back! The memory was $50 and the time should have been 30 min.
          Well he knows asks if I can help and waits for me to have time to do it.

        • #3271121

          Yes But…

          by infinity306 ·

          In reply to Been there done that

          Limited user accounts the way Microsoft made them are almost useless now.. it restricts too many things that are common in the workplace and not just software installs, they are making it better in Vista though so that you don’t have to just about make every local user account an administrator… (on the Domain set as user which prevents them from doing any damage beyond their own workstation), you can also restrict them from doing many things using Group Policies

      • #3143373

        Maybe if you charged…

        by jsharsky-3 ·

        In reply to I’ve spent 8+ hours for free

        they would not take advantage of your kindness by allowing their children to do such things.

        Come to think of it, Windows should really have added to user types of restricted, admin; child.

      • #3206928


        by im_ratiocinate ·

        In reply to I’ve spent 8+ hours for free

        She must be a delightful lady!

    • #3143693

      It takes me about 3 hours unless I have to reinstall Windows

      by goldengreeke ·

      In reply to How long would you work on a computer?

      If they are a friend…it’s free, even if it takes 8 hours. Anyone else $50. I never put a time limit if I can take their tower home.

      • #3143665

        For friends and small non-profits…

        by kristofer carlson ·

        In reply to It takes me about 3 hours unless I have to reinstall Windows

        For friends & small non-profits I’ll do what I can that involves time, not money. Usually this involves taking their computer home and cleaning out all the viruses, malware, etc.. I then install free security software—I try to talk people out of spending money on the security software that ships with most machines.

        I have dealt with acquaintances with problems—I give them my printed instructions for restoring their computer.

        I’ve found that the people who are so ignorant that they got into that situation in the first place will not follow simple instructions and, if I help them once, I’ll end up being called in again. The only guy I’ve done repeat business for is my boss, for obvious reasons.

        • #3143582

          Your printed restoration instructions

          by barkerrd ·

          In reply to For friends and small non-profits…

          I think your idea of giving people printed instructions for restoring their computer is excellent. Would you be willing to share a copy of the instructions with me? If so, I will give you my secondary Yahoo address.


      • #3143638

        $50 Flat rate for malware?!

        by rconnell ·

        In reply to It takes me about 3 hours unless I have to reinstall Windows

        Looking for work? I could keep you busy 24 hours a day with $50 flat-rate malware removals. I just finished about 3 hours trying to remove some, then finally did a wipe and reload. I’m getting ready to take computer back to the client to continue installing software, printers, etc. All the while I charge more per hour than you would have charged for the whole job. Probably will end up being over $400 by the time it’s over and this is repeat business – teenagers in the house means this won’t be the last time either. I do what I can to protect them, but they insist on using IM and file sharing. Oh, well.

        • #3144759

          IM and file sharing

          by banyangod ·

          In reply to $50 Flat rate for malware?!

          There is only so much you can do. After cleaning up a machine and degunking the system of all slow downs/ mal-ware and such.

          I always make sure I let the client know the danger of using such programs. Especially File shareing services. It is their choice if the continue to use those programs and subject thenselves to more mal-ware.

      • #3144566

        I agree 100% with you!

        by info ·

        In reply to It takes me about 3 hours unless I have to reinstall Windows

        Usually it takes me 3 hours when is a system I haven’t seen in more than a year and if I have to reinstall windows I try to take the tower with me and do it at home.

        What I usually do is that I install stuff and go do other work at the same time and then I put together the time it took me to install everything usually 3 to 4 hours.

        My rate is $60/h even to family, real close family like sister or mother in law is free.

      • #3144419

        About 3 hours sounds right

        by thom_stewart ·

        In reply to It takes me about 3 hours unless I have to reinstall Windows

        only good friends and family get away with “free”, whoever I still make them at least buy dinner and/or a night out, for my time and effort. Everyone else is a slideing scale strats at $25 p/h (The church and some npo’s)to $75 p/h (my 6 law firms)

    • #3143687

      Open Source Repairs?

      by admin ·

      In reply to How long would you work on a computer?

      Why can’t all repairs be free – after all, the Open Source advocates say all software should be free and down with any business that trys to sell it. So why don’t they apply that same logic to rebuilding computers?

      Sorry – I just finished reading some Open Source statements.

      By the way, sometimes I can’t save any data; they’ll just have to bite the bullet and start over. “Oh, if only I had a backup…”

      • #3144673


        by ericl_w199 ·

        In reply to Open Source Repairs?

        open source isnt supposed to break and be virus free….right?um huh.

      • #3144553

        the software may be free, but

        by rickydoo ·

        In reply to Open Source Repairs?

        what you do to mess it up is going to cost you.

        • #3144510

          If you are doing this

          by zlitocook ·

          In reply to the software may be free, but

          For profit you let the customer know that problem could be some thing that you can not save any thing on the drive. And suggest they take it to a repair center, they will not save any thing and tell the person that a compleat reinstall is the only way. Let them know that you will work on the computer your self and try to save anything you can.

        • #3144415

          Lost data

          by methatswho ·

          In reply to If you are doing this

          Before I work on a machine, I have the client sign a “data loss waiver.” I try to salvage their information but as we all know, sometimes it is beyond repair.

          I have spent as long as 12 hours trying to salvage data.

        • #3143199

          Valuable Data

          by suisunian ·

          In reply to Lost data

          All things being equal, software-wise, the customer’s data is the only thing of any real value in any case and all reasonable efforts should be made to save it once the determination is made that the system is unsalvagable.

      • #3144373

        This is the attitude that gives us all a bad name

        by nilt ·

        In reply to Open Source Repairs?


        Considering the data is what makes a computer valuable for most folks, the data is of paramount importance. How hard is it to remove the drive and back the data up in a separate machine? Data backup should be the first step on a system you’ll probably be wiping, not a last resort.

        • #3144333

          Save the Data attitude

          by hardwareguy ·

          In reply to This is the attitude that gives us all a bad name

          I would agree if you can get to the data.
          you can’t say you have been able to always save
          the data?….. Disks can be so damaged you can’t if get them to boot up or get to the data to save it…we have all been there….

          but I agree attitude(good, attitude) is and should always be paramount in dealing with our clients…

        • #3271110

          UBCD For Windows

          by infinity306 ·

          In reply to Save the Data attitude

          Works really well, it’s a windows live cd, just follow the instructions and it’ll boot into windows on the cd, then you should be able to backup the data if the Disk isn’t beyond all repair..not being able to boot into windows on the HD is not an excuse..

        • #3229447

          Have been doing this for 20 years

          by rwesthdst ·

          In reply to Save the Data attitude

          And there is no excuse for lost data. Unless the drive is dead.

        • #3144267

          We must practice what we preach

          by rickydoo ·

          In reply to This is the attitude that gives us all a bad name

          I backup when I take it home, either across the NW or direct to drive in my comp, even notebooks (you can’t live without a 2.5″ IDE adaptor in this line of work). The entire drive if possible. On site I BU as much as I can to CD or DVD if the machine is working enough to burn. Gotta find the *.QBWs and *.PLSs most of all. They get saved until the client tells me they have everything. I still have a few gigs of data waiting for ppl to tell me I can wipe it. But those are the drive failures that actually needed the backups, I backup all I work on just in case.
          With the exception of one failing JTS(ewwww) drive that got *.CHKd to death (I still recovered some) and seized drives that had nothing important enough to go to the trouble of THAT kind of recovery, I’ve got a pretty good track record for saving data, and that translates into favourable word of mouth advertising.

        • #3144241

          Love that word of mouth

          by nilt ·

          In reply to We must practice what we preach

          Yeah; I make a complete image even when onsite. It’s pretty easy when you have the right tools.

          Word of mouth is the only advertising I do. After 4 years of business I’ve used it to grow from 2 clients to a bit over 500 recurring clients. 😀

      • #3143221

        Because open sourcers are broke?

        by jsharsky-3 ·

        In reply to Open Source Repairs?

        Do open sourcers have time to waste? I value my time.

        Why should software be free? It takes man power to create so why shouldn’t there be compensation involved. The idea that software should be free is a moronic, sophomoric, and precious.

        Anything in the name of “taking down Microsoft”, I guess. Open sourcers, move out of your parent’s home so that you are forced to make a buck like the rest of us. And while I’m at it. Learn how to spell.

      • #3145720

        Open source is not truely free.

        by banyangod ·

        In reply to Open Source Repairs?

        Open source is not free if you look at it.

        Many of the companies that provide open source tools or OS’s for free do not provide free support. Think about Redhat, sure the Software is free but you will have to pay for support beyond anyhting in their FAQs and Knowledge Base.

        Many other Open source tools you have to pay for outright. The open source part means that when you buy the software you also get the source code so that you can adjust it if you have the know-how.

        Sure there are people out there that do not ask for any money and provide progframs that they create for free but support still lies on you then.

        • #3145479
          Avatar photo

          What you meant is

          by hal 9000 ·

          In reply to Open source is not truely free.

          It’s exactly the same as MS OEM right?


        • #3141473

          And also

          by tig2 ·

          In reply to What you meant is

          Open Source is exactly that- the source is open to review and use.

          Richard Stallman, the original author of the GPL, always said that software should be free- not free as in free beer, free as in free speech. Open Source still follows that philosophy. The good news is that there are some really knowledgeable folks out there if you need a hand.

    • #3143664

      Time Spent

      by sbrown95 ·

      In reply to How long would you work on a computer?

      The time you spend and the time you charge always seem to be a separate entity. I know at least for me it is. If I dedicate any time and give word to fix something, I can assure you I will fix it. Of course there are things like whether or not it’s worth the repair which is a different story. But for something fixable – It’s just the way it works.

      • #3111378

        Your point is well made. . .

        by service ·

        In reply to Time Spent

        I believe we’ve all faced that dilemma. While it would be nice to charge the actual time we’ve spent working on a system, sometimes its not possible. My dilemma then becomes determining where the split should be.)(Has anyone figured out a formula for doing that?) Of course how you might use that equation also depends on the client. Some of them actually value the work involved and understand it can take some time to fix an issue. (not many, but some)

        Incidentally…back on topic. Two hours is about right in my shop (after backing up ‘critical’ data). More than that and I feel like I’m beating my head against the wall and I’m inclined to practice typing “FORMAT”, “SETUP”, “RECOVER” or whatever you wish to get a clean start.

    • #3143661

      TWO HOURS?

      by dezell ·

      In reply to How long would you work on a computer?

      In my experience it depends on what I find wrong with the PC. If you have to reload the operating system and re-install all their software it could take all day. I have spent 2 days before because of viruses and spyware that refused to go away.

      • #3143614

        My own worst enemy

        by lightspeed555 ·

        In reply to TWO HOURS?

        I fix computers and own a 3/4 ton pickup truck so most conversations start with “Hey Buddy”. When did I become their friend? You can guess…I fix systems for family for free, but even then I limit the fix to 1 hour (i’m self employed as well). Most of the time I will look at it for 30 min and then call them and let them know how long/cost/worth of the computer. Let your business sense override your ego in trying to fix first, then call. Most techs i’ve seen fall short in this area. Anyway, I do keep a clock right in front of me for this purpose and this helps in keeping on the “straight and narrow”, otherwise people will try to overrun you with the old “hey buddy”

        • #3144876


          by lightspeed555 ·

          In reply to My own worst enemy

          By the way though…This does not mean that I haven’t wound up finding a “new” kind of problem, then looking at the clock and realizing it’s 4 hours later. We all have had that situation where we know we will never get “value” for the work we put into the problem. It’s just the nature of the beast!

    • #3143620

      I do it as long as I’m making progress

      by jterry ·

      In reply to How long would you work on a computer?

      I fix computers for friends on the side and for free. I enjoy doing it and I have learned a lot by doing it. I don’t usually set a time limit but I have had PC’s that I tell their owners I need to wipe them out and reinstall from scratch. One thing that is bad in this scenario is the amount of poeple who buy a PC with the operating system installed and do not have a CD to reinstall. I tell everyone that I meet that is considering buying a PC to ask for a CD with the OS in case they have to reinstall. I also tell them up front that I cannot tell them when I’ll finish because I am working on them in my free time.

    • #3143603

      OK – I admit it …

      by wojnar ·

      In reply to How long would you work on a computer?

      I have spent DAYS working on a couple of PC’s for people who really needed it (for free). Ususlly, if its free, I won’t go more than 3 hours – 2 to diagnose and 1 to repair. I also only work on freebees if the family/person can’t afford to pay and the kids must have it for school. No more freebees for surfing the internet or downloading iTunes.

      The bigest issue is when I can’t figure out the problem and all the usual suspects are working correctly. Than I get sucked in and won’t give up till I beat the little …. . Tell me it can’t be fixed and I will spend time on it until it is fixed.

      • #3143496

        I do this for a living, sorta

        by leadman584 ·

        In reply to OK – I admit it …

        Boot a system, run RKR first. Positives, game over. Save data, wipe and reinstall. Free security, and tuning, $75 for 2 hours or less. Negative RKR, pull HD, attach to very fast tech box, run cleaning script. The usual suspects, with the most recent addition being smitrem.exe. Job may easily take more than 4 hours, but I’m not watching it anyway. Defenses, and tuning after for $125. I never touch a machine without a restore disk for less than $200. Working without a net, especially on a laptop is too nerve racking.

    • #3143596

      2 hours

      by ray.drummond ·

      In reply to How long would you work on a computer?

      I think 2 hours is a good estimate of how long I would work on a computer. I’ve worked on systems longer than that, but it ended up being a waste of time as I had to reinstall everything anyway.

      I’m very careful who I do work for when dealing with my friends though. Sometimes you become their personal IT guy and get no consideration for payment or even appreciation sometimes.

      • #3143579

        2 hours, + time for a system restore

        by xt john ·

        In reply to 2 hours

        As a rule here at work, we’ll go on site, evaluate how bad the PC is infected, how corrupted Windows has become, run several cleanup utilities, updates, etc. Generally, within an hour to 90 minutes, you’ll know if what you’re dealing with is fixable or not. We backup any personal stuff, re-image the PC and attempt to leave it as close to the way it was. On a personal (home) PC, I’ll usually let the owner know up front, the system may need a restore, and I’ll need the restore disks. I agree with the previous poster, spending more than 2 hours fighting spyware that keeps coming back, or has damaged the PC beyond use is a thankless job, specially among friends and family. Figure 2 additional hours or more to restore using CD’s, online updates, etc.

    • #3143566

      Computer repair time…

      by lynnesbaraglia ·

      In reply to How long would you work on a computer?

      When anyone asks me to diagnose a problem I give it 30 minutes for diagnosis. If it then can’t be easily fixed within 2 hours I tell them to either take it elswhere because I don’t have the time or I will reformat it and reinstall their software for $75. If they want me to reformat it I tell them they are responsible for copying all their data off beforehand. Then I’ll do a reformat, reinstall and copy back their data and do all the MS updates for $75. If they want anything other than that it cost extra. For good friends I don’t charge the $75 but I do tell them that’s what I charge other people because then I find they don’t abuse my services as a friend. Of course, if I can restore it back to normal within 2 hours, I will, as long as they understand that “next time this happens” it will probably have to be reformatted therefore will cost them $75. I know this is cheap but it’s resonable for friends as well as aquaintances alike – I like things simple when they can be!

    • #3143551

      Take the box away or beware

      by wwed ·

      In reply to How long would you work on a computer?

      other than close friends and family

      The client can very quickly become a friend if you spend several hours in their home.

      I believe this is by design (call me paranoid) but the amount charged per hour sseems to shrink in proportion to the number of hours spent in the clients home

      • #3144409

        Cost per hour

        by methatswho ·

        In reply to Take the box away or beware

        I spent 12 hours on a machine that was about 4 years old trying to salvage data that had become corrupted by spyware and viruses. The client might have been better off just wiping the hard drive or buying a replacement hard drive and going with a complete restore, but I bought a ton of good will by getting the data back and not charging full price for the 12 hours. My pay per hour went down by about 75%.

        DSL and no firewall or spyware or anti virus programs can make a mess of things in a hurry.

      • #3145631

        100 % agree with your statement

        by ican2 ·

        In reply to Take the box away or beware

        When I work on someones box at thier place, it takes me at least twice as long. I will do anything and everything to prevent the unncessary “help” I get when in the same type of situation.
        “No really, I can do this much faster at my own place”. Last year I was referred to a user who had all of his banking and investment portfolios on the same system he did all of his offshore poker playing. Had not updated his virus defs in over 4 years. He sat with me going over files by file, then stopping to show me how much money he was making in the poker rooms.How he couldn’t get to his email any longer. Everytime he connected to Comcast he was redirected to “”. But shut up long enough for me to follow through with what I know to do? Not on your life! He sat at my side every hour I sat at his machine. He told me what I should know, what I should try and why my hypotheses had to be incorrect because everything he had was “top of the line” (yeah, back in 1997). In the course of 2 weeks I spent 23 hours on an old Micron running win 98. Reformatting was not an option due to the users refusal to reinstall. I ran everything I could possibly think of and it did run a little better but I stated on my bill I could NOT take any responsibility for the future of that machine while in its present state. I then presented him a bill for $300.00. He was pissed and never called me again and I was relieved. The next unbelievable experience was a month ago. I was at home on one of the rare weekends and decided to take a nap. A “kind of but not really” friend knocked on the door and I ignored it. He then came knocking on my bedroom window. I proceded to let him know I had been sleeping and would be again once he got off my porch and he kept talking about his computer and how he had tried unsuccessfully to fix it himself (Got the CPU mixed up with the hard drive, please don’t ask me how, I am not his brain). Then he went back and knocked on my front door until I came to the door. My bf asked me if he could take care of this but I wasn’t in the mood for ambulances and police cars. I took the computer out of the (L)users hands, said he was for sure going to pay through the nose for this. a month later the p.o.s. is still sitting in the corner of my living room UNTOUCHED!
        I cringe everytime someone I know asks me to work on their stuff. They usually want it right now and for free.

    • #3143494

      I treat them like they’re at the Dr.’s office

      by el guapo ·

      In reply to How long would you work on a computer?

      You know the scenario, you’re in the family practicioner’s office and you’re sick as a dog, vomiting and spreading germs to other well patients. Three hours later, they call you in and wait another hour in the room only to be prescribed ibuprofen and discharged in 5 minutes.

      Since I’m the only computer pro in my circle, they really don’t know how fast reinstalling an OS, or removing trojans, or installing an application takes. All they care is they don’t have pay $80 an hour for a pimple faced geek to fix their pc. If I’m really swamped their priority is in the backburner (max 3 weeks), and if I’m doing nothing, probably 2 weeks. Then I give them this spiel not visit “bad” websites, stop downloading crap, etc. And this service is all free.

      Now for paid ones probably 1 week at the max. Still, my paying customers don’t know the difference between trojan [horse] from a Budweiser Clydesdale or a computer virus from a Herpes Zoster virus. So I also give them the same spiel.

    • #3143463

      Do the job until it is Done

      by matt ·

      In reply to How long would you work on a computer?

      Anything less is for suckers, which makes the lot of you suckers, especially because these people are supposed to be friends. If you can’t do a job until it is done, don’t agree to do in the first place.

      • #3144654

        You get an A+

        by hermit47 ·

        In reply to Do the job until it is Done

        Exactly my sentiments. If a person was half the pro they tell their friends they are…They should be willing to prove it! What a poor account to make of oneself as to present nothing more than a selfish jerk to people one has any rapport with at all. Not to mention the poor representation of ones fellow professionals.

        Best point put in your answer as far as I am concerned.

      • #3144381

        I think you missed the point

        by jdclyde ·

        In reply to Do the job until it is Done

        If you are working on a system as a professional, it gets to the point that it is in the best interests of the client to keep the labor hours in check.

        Repair vs replace.

        In this case, wipe and reload vs cleaning out all the infestations and HOPING that the OS will be reasonably stable after that.

        • #3144263

          I think YOU missed the point

          by rouschkateer ·

          In reply to I think you missed the point

          I would never say “Oh, it has been too long” and give up. I,personally, would want to figure it out no matter what the cost! Not only would it broaden my troubleshooting skills and patience level, but it would make me look like someone who actually cares about/likes/is proud of what I do.

          I think some of you are forgetting WHO you are, not WHAT you are.

        • #3144236

          Been there, played with that

          by jdclyde ·

          In reply to I think YOU missed the point

          Did you notice the poster said [i]”I let them know that I will try to save any data that I can and reinstall thier software.”[/i]

          He isn’t giving up on the computer, just on the CLEANING of the malware.

          Even if you can get everything off, the OS is not going to be stable after this and the SINGLE best thing to do at that point is a wipe and reload.

          So it takes less time to do. The system will run better. A win-win for the owner of that system AND you don’t have to go back and keep fixing it because it now is more prone to crashing.

          I am proud of the end result, a solid system, not trying to impress people that I can remove a virus.

          You get judged on results, and spending a few days on this problem instead of a three hour reload shows poor computer skills.

        • #3144232


          by nilt ·

          In reply to I think YOU missed the point


          That’s a major problem with “flat rate” pricing. It encourages people to go for the quick and dirty fix so that’s what they do. I suppose this is sort of like Mac vs PC or *nix vs MS though … you’ll never reconcile everyone so what’s the point discussing it? heh

        • #3144193


          by btrik ·

          In reply to I think YOU missed the point

          Ahh yes, I remember when I was a newbie 10 years ago too!! We’ll see how your tune changes when you get tired of doing free work for a living.

        • #3144175

          I used to work on my own car too

          by jdclyde ·

          In reply to newbie?

          but that was when I had more time than money.

          Now I have more money than time, and won’t waste what little free time I have doing something as silly as trying to impress people with your great “skills”.

          young, dumb and full of c##. 😀

        • #3144159

          I am 50, been there done that, and still work on my own car

          by hermit47 ·

          In reply to newbie?

          No one said anyone is obligated to take free work and if you make agreemets of cash or trade all the power to you. My peeve is jokers that state they would take the job, then blow smoke up their friends ERRRR…chimney and give back a minimal report.

          Of course charge them for the parts, and if agreeable any mark-up on the parts. Charge labor if you must, just don’t sandbag a friend just because you are bored with your knowledge. Most computer owners I have met no matter how Tech savvy they are or aren’t, know when they have spent too much.

        • #3144126


          by zlitocook ·

          In reply to I am 50, been there done that, and still work on my own car

          Haha I like you, I feel the same way! I let people know if there is a cheaper way to go and let people know about other companys that charge for fun.
          And I stopped working on my cars after my 89 Thunderbird because I did not have the diagnostic equipment. I am 47 and still out do the twenty sometings in work. An old fart in the making 🙂

        • #3144125

          sandbag a friend?

          by jdclyde ·

          In reply to I am 50, been there done that, and still work on my own car

          who ever said that?

          All I said was that I would not WASTE a few days trying to clean a system. I would wipe and reload. The “friend” gets their computer back quicker AND it will be more stable than if the malware were just removed. People need to get over their egos and make an honest decision to save everyone time AND do a better job.

          As for working on cars, I have a deal with a local shop. I do their computer work and they do my automotive work. We just have to pay for parts for what we need done. I don’t do more than put gas in anymore. 😀 B-)

          And because we just trade services, there are no taxes or tax laws to deal with as neither of us did anything to collect cash.

        • #3144118

          where I live that is called tax fraud

          by wwed ·

          In reply to sandbag a friend?

          but we have to get caught

        • #3143274

          Income tax

          by jdclyde ·

          In reply to sandbag a friend?

          is based on income.

          If I have no income, I can not be taxed on it.

          Partnerships are a good thing to have.

        • #3145053

          Silly “max reply” thing

          by nilt ·

          In reply to sandbag a friend?

          I had to post this a level up.

          Barter is legally “in kind” income on both sides. If there’s any tracing of the barter on paper and you get audited you’ll be nailed. They’re quite aware of such “circumventions”. I don’t agree with barter being taxed but it is, according to my CPA.

          That being said, as long as nothing’s documented how can they prove anything? What my CPA doesn’t know about he can’t make me report, now can he? I barter with a couple of providers myself; a chiropractor and a lawyer. It’s quite nice knowing you have certain services covered with a bit of your own time.

          Now if only I had a mechanic that needed computer work my wife’s Jeep wouldn’t kill our budget every three months.

        • #3145474

          I work on my cars too – no mechanics worth a

          by wojnar ·

          In reply to sandbag a friend?

          darn in Pittsburgh. Thats what I miss about Detroit. Dealer mechanic here told me 3 quarts of oil usage between changes is NOT excessive.

          BTW – according to my accountant, bartering has been specifically identified as income and procedes are taxable in most situations. There used to be a web site that connected barterers which closed down when the IRS asked for records of connections. Theoretically, you can eliminate the tax if you show the value of your work being the same as services received. A kind of expense = income wash. To maintain my books the accountant requires me to do it for free or identify the trade as income.

        • #3141642

          Did I say “barter” ;\

          by jdclyde ·

          In reply to sandbag a friend?

          What I [b]MEANT[/b] to say, is I have a good friend that I give a hand when he needs help.

          I also have a good friend that gives me a hand when I need help.


          Paper records? There are no paper records for helping a friend! When you move, you pay your friends in beer to move your a$$.

          Yeah, damn government is always looking for a new way to take more money from the people that actualy work to pay for the bloated social programs. Then half of the money for any program is WASTED in the top levels of the administration of the programs.

          Fines are a tax for doing bad.
          Taxes are a fine for doing good.

        • #3141674


          by rouschkateer ·

          In reply to newbie?

          I’m almost insulted.

          No, I am NOT a newbie. I said I love my work…I love working on computers. Looks like someone lost the taste of victory.

          Simple reload. Bah.

          How many friends call you anymore?

        • #3141520

          All of them, rouschkateer

          by jdclyde ·

          In reply to Newbie??

          [b]That want their computer to just work. They don’t care about egos, they just want their computer back as quickly as possible.[/b]

          If you have time to WASTE, and want to give them an unstable system, you continue to spend a few daze “working” on that computer.

          If you have work standards and stand behind your work, you will want to give them back the best possible product in the least amount of time. That best product is from a reload. The least amount of time is also from that reload.

          You are doing them no favors by trying to show off to them, and you are impressing not one of the working professionals here with the inferior product that you are giving your friends back after wasting so much time.

          [b]Maybe not newbie, but immature and unprofessional.[/b]

          My “taste of victory” is from getting them back up and going as quickly as possible, both professionally and personally.

    • #3143461

      It’s very dependent on the environment

      by server queen ·

      In reply to How long would you work on a computer?

      For example, when I was first consulting, I’d come from a large private-sector corporate environment. I was used to working on something until it was finished. The first time I spent four hours working on a consulting client’s problem, I almost got fired – as the owner pointed out to me, at the bill rate they were paying for my services, four hours was more than that crappy computer was worth. It was a whole new mindset to me; either quick fix or repartition/reload. It’s served me well since I’ve been working in public sector; I give most of our computers here a maximum of four hours troubleshooting, then I repartition/reload. Even servers are not always exempt from this, although servers are sometimes given a bit longer for troubleshooting. The only time it’s really worth it to spend longer than that is when there is data that you truly can’t recover any other way, and that’s rare.

      For friends/family, I hate doing freebies anyway, because some people abuse it. So everyone gets one 30-minute session free. After that, I tell them my bill rate for friends and family (it’s half what my consulting bill rate was), and then give them the choice of having me continue on a paid basis. The only exceptions are neighbors who’ve done similar types of favors for me; they might get a bit more free time.

    • #3143447

      2.5 hrs

      by wizardofj ·

      In reply to How long would you work on a computer?

      I own a computer parts and repair shop – if it is software problems, after 1.5 hrs, I backup, format, reinstall, restore and do all updates, takes about 2.5 hours at the most that way, and it’s clean and fast – of course, that’s assuming they have their original software – and of course, the product keys ( like that happens when they buy it from a “friend” or at a garage sale). Ya gotta love it when they expect a P2 with 64M ram to act like a p4 with 1Gb …

    • #3144672

      Usually about 4 hours

      by mr.wiz ·

      In reply to How long would you work on a computer?

      Usually I’ll give it a least 4 hours, most of the bad stuff can be removed in that time or I’ll know that it’s time to punt and reload the machine.

    • #3144661

      20 minutes in Corporate World

      by justn_time ·

      In reply to How long would you work on a computer?

      20 minutes should be the standard. Our IT OPS Helpdesk dept support over 1200 desktops and laptops. We do not have to the BestBuy time to sit and analyze. We lots of tickets in the queue and internal customers waiting for soluctions and our time is precious and we have SLA’s we need to meet. We have to minutes to resolve and/or copy profile and restore.

      • #3144407

        20 minutes???

        by methatswho ·

        In reply to 20 minutes in Corporate World

        I work for the Public School System in the great State of New Mexico. This School District has over 3,000 computer and servers and 1,000 printers. We have 4 people that support this mess. 20 minutes? We are improving but we will still spend as long as it takes to get the user up and running! 20 minutes…try 2hours or longer; especially if we have to get on the phone with some warranty outfit.

        • #3144366

          20minutes is fair

          by malexand ·

          In reply to 20 minutes???

          20minutes is actually a fair amount of time when you have that many systems to support. The trick to it is to have an image that you can put onto the machine. If you haven’t resolved the issue in 20minutes, then you copy the users data to the network (shouldn’t be much because they should keep all their documents on the network) and then re-image the machine. After its re-imaged, put back any user info that should be on the computer (don’t move the stuff that should have been on the network though) and they are back up and running, and likely a couple hours sooner than if you spent the time trying to directly fix the problem.

          I would say that if there is a common recurring problem, then yes you take a system and try and figure out what causes the problem and what the real solution is, but not at the expense of a user being unable to do their work. And that should be done during slow periods.

        • #3144364

          20 minutes is absurdly short

          by nilt ·

          In reply to 20 minutes???

          But that’s what happens when you have corporate beancounters setting policy for the IT department. IT is always a cost; the return is not measurable. This is why I’m self employed; the corporate IT world pissed me off so I quit.

        • #3144306

          As long as…

          by methatswho ·

          In reply to 20 minutes is absurdly short

          Working for the School District, I am required to get the students or teachers or adminm people up and running – no matter the time it takes. There is a backup folder for these users on the network. Do any of them use the backup system? NO. “It’s not job. I am a teacher (or admin).”
          “Aren’t you the computer tech?” “Get it done no matter what it takes!”

          2 hours and sometimes longer is “what it takes!”

        • #3144177

          Agreed, & Haste makes Waste

          by dawgit ·

          In reply to 20 minutes is absurdly short

          in any type of a commerical enviorment, if you tried the 20 min rutine you’d work 1 day, and never see a computer again, ever. I acept that as standard (not)Help(ing) Desk mentality. In practice, You take as long as needed. (at easly over a grand in 5 min/sale time, a firm will lose too much money that has accumulated in the machine that is affected)

        • #3143339

          20 Minutes Is Fine

          by lynne’s honey ·

          In reply to 20 minutes is absurdly short

          inthe corporate world. Spend 20 minutes to try to remove a problem. If that is not working-re-imag the machine. Short and sweet and it gives teh user back his machine in a very short period of time so they do not lose their productivity.

          In the corporate world, there are standard onfigurations. Re-imaging makes sense. It goes a lot quicker than a manual re-install, and the machine is practically ready to go when finished. Scripts take care of the rest of the configuration, and very little needs the intervention of the tech.

        • #3143166

          sure, if………

          by dawgit ·

          In reply to 20 Minutes Is Fine

          if your only talking in what used to be the securtary pool, than, no problem. But in a comercial setting, it’s another story. I believe that in most cases, it’s change terminals, than retrieve Data, and that at all costs in time.
          Also, at least over here, some sort of atopsy is the norm.

      • #3164613

        15 minutes in public world

        by Anonymous ·

        In reply to 20 minutes in Corporate World

        10 minutes to kill the uneducated moron and dispose of the body. 5 minutes to sell the computer at curbside.

    • #3144628

      Sometimes it’s just not worth it…

      by michael ·

      In reply to How long would you work on a computer?

      I once got called out to help somebody with their computer that was completely virus and spyware ridden. I spent four hours working on it, getting it back to a workable state, removing all the viruses and spyware detected. I charged the person for only two hours, and then the customer complained about having to pay for it because 2 days later their computer started to get infected with viruses again.

      The lesson I learnt there was never to *promise* to fix a computer. Only to say that you will spend time working on it. If you spend four hours working on it and it still has problems, then that is their problem, not yours.

      • #3144622

        Wipe and reinstall.

        by eludeman30 ·

        In reply to Sometimes it’s just not worth it…

        My first rule of thumb is if I spend at least 2 hours working on someones system and I can’t get it working properly the only thing to do is to try to backup their data, and do a fresh install. Why beat your head against a wall if you don’t have to. Now driver problems are a different monster. I hate it when I go to someones place and don’t have access to a system that is in working order with internet access. That is why I usually ask the person to bring it to my place.

      • #3144613

        It all comes dow to customer service!

        by info ·

        In reply to Sometimes it’s just not worth it…

        I do quite a lot of this on a weekly basis and think I have down to a fine art.

        Basically I charge a set fee which covers about 1 1/2 hours. I tell them this to start with so they know the upfront cost.

        then I tell them that if I cannot fix it within this time, or I identify that it will require more hours work I advise them that this may require a complete backup and reinstall.

        I also have set a standard price for that. This way the customer knows that either way they poay one of the two charges.

        If you have your reinstallation techniques worked out well then it should not take any more than two hours to fully rebuild a windows box with their data put back in place.

        My advise to anyone who is doing this for custoemrs is make sure the person understands the reasons for the virus and spyware infection to start with. P2P, Email etc and ensure they have adequate protection. If they come back in a few days charge them again because you have explained your position and advised them of how to protect their system against further infection.

        I tend to give my customers 7 day return period. If they find a virus or spyware on their system in that time I will remove it for free.

        But on saying that I also make sure I record the actual virusesand psyware I cleaned and give them a copy so they cant get me to clean anew virus for free.

    • #3144614

      I am a sucker for complex problem

      by magictom ·

      In reply to How long would you work on a computer?

      I am a sucker for complex problems, I like the chalenge and I enjoy the work. A computer does not bother you, it is not impolite to you (and usualy its owner, if he has confidence in you, does the same has his computer do. Bring them problems, and let me work in peace, this is happines.

      Magic Tom

      • #3144509

        Hey that is

        by zlitocook ·

        In reply to I am a sucker for complex problem

        The way I work too. I love a hard to find problem and will look for days to find a fix for that problem.
        It is that the company I work for wants a quick fix fast, so I save problems and work on them as I get time.

    • #3144565

      Repair time

      by brian bevan ·

      In reply to How long would you work on a computer?

      A Hardware problem! Myself one hour. My staff varies from 1 hour to four hours, dependant on their skill level. Software. A software problem can be a real headache. so in reality one can never be sure. We try to control dependant on the type of fault, usually after time trial of two max periods of 4 hours then a reformat becomes the basic fact, otherwise the bill can become a real problem to the customer, so we talk to them and advise, so that they can decide as to what action we should take.
      With this type of treatment our cliental over the last year has trebled and my staff has increased by 60%.
      So I feel that we are on the right track.

    • #3144542

      Uhhh I can’t think of a title

      by rickydoo ·

      In reply to How long would you work on a computer?

      On site I’ll allocate one hour to a problem, then I usually take a badly infected machine home to work on in the evening. I rarely encounter a problem that takes more than 3 hours of my sit-in-front-of-the-comp-and-work time, and when I’m done, every comp has Spybot S&D and AdAware SE Personal installed, the immunize feature of Spybot and the hosts file list added. They get instructions in PDF format on their desktop for updating and running Spybot, AdAware, Checkdisk and Defrag once a month, and care and feeding of their antivirus. They also get a request to buy the full version of AdAware to keep Lavasoft in business, and if they don’t have antivirus, to purchase AVG Pro for the same reason (they get 30 day trial at work and free ed. at home) and finally to donate through PayPal to Safer-Networking to keep Patrick Michael Kolla and “The most wonderful girl on Earth” well fed (read the dedication GPL). They also get a friendly lecture on why P2P is bad for them, and I don’t even touch on the “pirating is bad” aspect.
      If I have repeat business after that for the same reasons I’ll gladly take their money.
      I’ve encountered hijackers and spyware that have been a bear to get rid of, but my philosophy is that it’s better to save the data and personalisation of the customer’s computer than just perform a “nuke and pave” and make them start from scratch. Especially when few people remember where they put those darn CDs. I have yet to find a problem that takes more of my time than re-installing everything, even on a system with a recovery partition for all the apps.

    • #3144497

      Never send to a comp store out of convenience.. Just do it and earn cash!

      by shamusoneil06 ·

      In reply to How long would you work on a computer?

      A new client of mine took her computer to Best Buy and one of the geeks there put in a CPU fan backwards bringing the CPU up to 83 degrees C; I was horrified. Turned the fan around and it went down to 46 C. And now, the machine hangs on install of her XP OS after replacing EVERYTHING but the MOBO and CPU – Burned!

      ..and after all this, and the many trips she took back and forth, she says, “I should have just called you to begin with…” Yep..

      “It’s better that YOU get paid to do the job correctly than somebody who doesn’t know jack and will screw it up.”


      • #3144347

        That’s a whole other thread

        by rickydoo ·

        In reply to Never send to a comp store out of convenience.. Just do it and earn cash!

        How many local comp shop and big block store mistakes have you corrected? I’ve lost count.

        • #3144225

          I keep track (score?)

          by nilt ·

          In reply to That’s a whole other thread

          Heh. Of the 68 visits I’ve had in the last year where they took it to a shop before calling me, 67 were resolvable where the shop couldn’t.

          All but three of those were just something simple like bad RAM or power supply. One was a case where the “shop” swapped a hard drive out and lost all data. I wasn’t able to recover the data becasue the shop claimed to have discarded the old drive.

          The other 2 were pretty easy recovering data after an OS was reinstalled. Some loss occurred in each but most of it was there.

          This is not to say all shops suck. Many have great techs on staff. The “big box” store rarely do but a lot of local shops hire very good techs.

        • #3164616

          Many small shops do

          by rickydoo ·

          In reply to I keep track (score?)

          hire good techs, when they’re available. But here’s a story…
          I went to work for a lady who was having trouble running her #2 shop in town since she kicked out her till-skimming partner, who was also the tech. A customer came in with an older (P2) Compaq Presario. He took his computer in to the #1 shop because his NIC wouldn’t work. Rather than checking drivers, the tech simply replaced the card with a Dlink. The Compaq says “You can have IRQ 5, 9, or 11.” The Dlink card says “I want 10!” and refuses to work. “You need a new computer,” the tech decides. “Well, put my old card back in,” says the customer. “I can’t. Once the old card is out it can’t be re-inserted.”
          He brings it to me. I remove the Dlink, remove the original card’s drivers, plug in the old card and install the latest drivers and it works fine.
          Even in the small shops finding a good tech is a bit of a crap shoot.
          I am reminded of this story because I just met the customer on the street again yesterday. Small world.

    • #3144458

      It depends on the problems that are obvious

      by jack-m ·

      In reply to How long would you work on a computer?

      I usually quote “about 2 hours” if the problem looks like I don’t habe to take the machine completely apart and can work on it onsite. If the problem seems complicated I quote 4 hours.
      If I can offer a substitute or ‘work around’ for their immediate needs I take it to my repair facility and take my time.

    • #3144450

      Here is my 2 cents

      by bknipple ·

      In reply to How long would you work on a computer?

      I read most of the replys but no one seems to address the client, it’s all about the tech that’s the first mistake I think.

      1. find out about the client before you even touch or agree to look at the system.

      *Are they ok with your hourly rate?
      *What time frame do they need?
      *Do they have backup’s – this is importent because they could be infected as well. If you ever had to clean backup’s two hours is not going to cut it.

      *why would you spend 2 hours to then tell them you have to reload, restore etc. I always give them the option up front.

      *two hours no promises might lead to a re-load of the system. May require more time.
      two hours re-load of system up front..

      I agree with everyone about information, but I take it one step further get them ready, that they have probably already lost information?

      You would be surprised at how many times after taking those steps first then doing all the fix suggestions of everyone here. That you fix it in half the time and always meet the clients expectations.

      I would also say 8 – 10 times people will chose reloads of systems.

      If you explain it right the benifits always make sense.
      – clean system
      – fully updated by tech
      – maintience on hardware while loaded
      – complete system review by tech
      – Setup all protection software correctly by tech

      if you go this way make sure you have a drive or disks that will make a complete reload faster.

      here is the trade of either way its about two hours – the reload process is a two hour as well but will also tell the client for sure if it was virus or maybe hardware curruption of the system…

      just my two cents..

      either way everyone seems to be happy.
      client gets what they want tech gets what they want.

      also to comment on family always wipe reload or charge double LOL!!!!

    • #3144427

      How long?

      by jerec ·

      In reply to How long would you work on a computer?

      Can agree with about two hours, Sometimes even less depending on amount of corruption. Your comment about turn around times is an unfair assessment. Our turn around time on all systems is less then a week.

    • #3144389

      maybe 60 seconds…

      by shraven ·

      In reply to How long would you work on a computer?

      About as long as it takes to load the shotgun and blow the thing away. Computers are cheap and I don’t care about user data because backup drives are even cheaper and they should be backing it up anyway.

      They either learn their lesson or don’t bother me again in the future. 😉

      • #3144145

        60 second

        by magictom ·

        In reply to maybe 60 seconds…

        Funny, but not complitely silly. Thinking of it that way make a little sence. although… it’s a shame for unaware and inexperience people who loose a lot of precious information

    • #3144350

      There’s no easy answer for that

      by nilt ·

      In reply to How long would you work on a computer?

      I generally try to spend no more than an hour troubleshooting and no more than 2 to 3 hours resolving an issue. The thing, though, is that every case will be different. Even with the same virus infecting 2 PCs one may be resolvable while the other won?t.

      If you set the client?s expectations properly up front and don?t throw out a technical term ever 4 words you?ll rarely have an upset client. Always cover the value of the PC as it relates to a replacement; sometimes it?s better to buy a new rig but not always. Always explain the basics of how sometimes it?s easy and fast but sometimes it?s not. Lay out their choices and allow them to choose after you make a recommendation which path you?d take if it were your machine.

      If the system is heavily infested, I always recommend that I work on it in my own office so I don?t have to charge them for the time Ad-Aware, etc, takes to scan. This is part of the “setting expectations” phase. If they insist I work on site then I make more but that wasn?t my recommendation so I?m covered. I even tell them up front I?ll make more if I work on site; I don?t do flat rate. That?s a guarantee I?m almost always screwing the customer out of labor I don?t perform or performing more than I?m paid for. If I have to work on site and reinstall the OS then I back up data using a USB to IDE adaptor and my laptop. If I?m in my own office, I have a dedicated imaging machine.

      The key is each case is different. Communicate the different options to the customer and listen to their concerns. The most important thing to remember is we are not (NOT!) fixing a computer issue. We?re fixing the customer?s problem which just happens to be a wacky computer.

    • #3144257

      Computer repair time…??

      by thepan123 ·

      In reply to How long would you work on a computer?

      This is what I “DO”. Ah…doing hardware is ok, but not that much $$ in it. Programming is the thing and that’s what makes the dough. Oh sure, I do FBI jobs…(Friends,Brothers and In-Laws, etc.) But I tire of that sort of thing for free.

      When I start on a unit with Malware, trojans, and viruses…it’s a challenge to me. Every unit is different and I have been known to work on a computer for 12-15 hours in my attempt to save the person’s data, etc. Depends on how important this date is and how badly they need it. I “ALWAYS” give more than I receive. That’s my code of SOP’s for repeat business. But they will not pay for 12 hours unless it’s stated as such. I will in general give 4-5 hours and use (5) five programs to “scour” the hard drive. When I get done with the computer, it’s been debugged, up-dated from Microsoft, defragged, and whatever. It’s like giving it some ex-lax.

      • #3144245

        i could have written most of these replies

        by jeasterlingtech9 ·

        In reply to Computer repair time…??

        Makes me feel better that I?m not gouging my customers
        1. 1 hour minimum @ $75 average (i charge a little more for long drives and a little less for local jobs) this usually covers simple malware cleaning or add software or easy upgrades like adding memory and such
        2. Additional time usually less then 2 hours @$50 for a non totaled malware infection or any weird hardware problem or configuration weirdness
        Most service calls end up being 2 hours
        Most of my customers don’t have a backup and have mislaid their CD’s and the nuke option will end up losing important data
        the companies that I service have backups of important data and the rebuild disks filed where I could get them if needed (best defense against data loss is have a good backup system you will never need it but skip a couple of backups and THEN the system blows up)

    • #3144224

      Gave up on over the transom repairs.

      by too old for it ·

      In reply to How long would you work on a computer?

      I’d work on them about 4-5 hours (at $80 an hour, posted rate), including backup, wipe and restore of Windows and programs and data, only to be told that they didn’t want to spend more than $20 or so.

    • #3144201

      Repair of PCs

      by rcsteinbach ·

      In reply to How long would you work on a computer?

      Easy. A small fee for diagnosis to see if it likely to be repaired and give them a diagnosis within 24 hours. Then 4 hours maximum to repair it if it looks like it can be repaired to be completed within 48 hours, plus the cost of parts to make the PC functional.

      If you stick to this formula, I can 99% guarantee that any PC that looks like it is fixable can be fixed within this time period. Then again, I’ve done this professionally for almost 2 years. All of this includes time involved in low level formats, reloading the OS, and other time consuming activities.

      I found it easier to reload the OS when virus and spyware infection is anything but at a “annoyance” level. Theorically to can dispose of all viruses and really bad spyware without a reload, but I found it uneconomical to do that too often, but I’ll give it one good try before I resort to a reload.

      Of course any PC struck by lightning or has an electrical fault is usually not economically repairable. Signs to look for are things like blown capicators, burnt chips, and burnt modems.

    • #3144147

      Depends on the client

      by oz_media ·

      In reply to How long would you work on a computer?

      Mary’s little sister might lose her Yahoo buddy list? 20 minutes and it’ sreformat time.

      A good friends company PC that has relevant data, until it’s done.

      A friend who always buiggers it up with porn, spam and anythign else they pick up while trudging through cyberhell, reformat, I’ll take it home and return it in a few days after I’ve had time to play with it.

      It’s all based on what is being lost, how important the data and user is. If it’s pure crapo and they are a junk surfer, reformat. If it’s vlued data and they are an impotant client, whatever it takes ot finish it.

    • #3144123

      How long would I work on a computer?

      by bruce1sa ·

      In reply to How long would you work on a computer?

      I enjoy working on computers. I spend as much time as necessary (even weeks!) to repair/replace hardware, OS, drivers, etc. The only time there is a charge is if hardware is required, everything else is free. BTW – I’m 68 & retired.

      • #3143303

        There is work and there is fun

        by hfsi ·

        In reply to How long would I work on a computer?

        Bruce I am 64 and almost ready to retire but I don’t think I will be as free as all that. 🙂 You sound like a talented man, ever consider putting that into designing ways to help your fellow retirees improve their lives? There are a lot of problems needing someone to find answers. Someone out there needs help doing what he used to do. I think that will be my hobby.

    • #3143367

      How Long?

      by lynne’s honey ·

      In reply to How long would you work on a computer?

      The length of time spent working on a machine depends on teh nature of the problem. Most of teh replies here seem to be focused on infected machines, and, lord knows, techs see enough fo those. If that is teh case, the cutoff point is two hours, sometimes less, if it is obvius that the infections are not easily removed. At that point data is saved and the OS and any software the customer gives us is installed from bare etal.

      For a hardware problem, it is as long as it takes to diagnose and repair the problem, or recommend trashing the machine in favor of a new one. This is usually less than an hour.

      Networking problems, for as long as it takes to isolate and fix the problem. Again, in many cases it is quite easy to isolate the problem.

      For a problem with software, not an infection, diagnosing and fixing usually goes fairly quickly, but sometimes there are sticky problems that just seem to defy a quick and easy resolution. We try to keep such under two hours, and for any longer, we keep in touch with the client and let them approve or disprove any further work after two hours.

    • #3143272

      It takes as long as it takes….

      by caricc135 ·

      In reply to How long would you work on a computer?

      Recently I have had a rash of customers with software issues on thier home computers. Most of the problems are that they just do not know.

      To fact: even with a cable modem, dial-up, dsl or what ever you connect to the internet with you need to have a firewall, anti-virus, and something that will check for spyware. All 3 at a min.

      To say at this will take at least 2 hours amd sometimes more depending on how many users are setup on the computer. (windows xp). You will need to check each individual user login for problems.

      When your customer has a problem adn they call you to fix it. Then most of the time they will not baulk if their connect to the outside world is working as good or better thatn before. Especially if they are protected from the problems they had before.

      • #3143228

        I agree and

        by zlitocook ·

        In reply to It takes as long as it takes….

        I used to think kids were the biggest problem but I am seeing more of the parents causing the problems now. Kids would down load Kaza or other file sharing programs and it would only be a few songs or another down load and there would be viral, malware or worse on the computer.
        Now I have seen two computers were the lady of the house has opened an email about some thing they told me they never opened. Even after I repaired the computer and had shown them the email. It was for finding male friends in your area, and they are both married. 🙂

        • #3143191

          Human Nature

          by suisunian ·

          In reply to I agree and

          That’s funny. They got caught red-handed. I learned this from watching House on TV: Everybody lies.

        • #3145054
          Avatar photo

          You would love one of my Customers

          by hal 9000 ·

          In reply to I agree and

          He only has a NB so he can download songs for his I Pod [i]This drives me nuts[/i] but I’m constantly called out to fix his I Pod or I Tunes program and to attempt to make the thing work better.

          The only other slight use is for a Garman GPS which a couple of times per year he needs the computer to upgrade the Maps for when he goes Overseas. The last time I spent 6 hours over there updating his GPS with the latest European Maps and then he insisted of seeing how it would give him directions to get there when it just came back with a distance to Spain from AU he insisted that it wasn’t working properly as it wasn’t giving him the proper directions I just asked him how he was going to drive there from here?

          Another time he told me that [b]Work was getting in the way of all his Porn Popus[/b] when he actually meant to say that the Porn Popus where getting in the way of his work. :^0

          Nough Said. 😀


        • #3144826

          I have one like that

          by nilt ·

          In reply to You would love one of my Customers

          >>He only has a NB so he can download songs for his I Pod This drives me nuts but I’m constantly called out to fix his I Pod or I Tunes program and to attempt to make the thing work better.<< I've got a client that only uses the computer for their digital image long term storage. They're so minimalist they don't have any Internet connection on it at all. The camera drivers conflicted with the printer. I tell ya, downloading new drivers for their photo printer was a pain on the local free dialup service. Made me wish I had a friggin' wireless broadband on my laptop. Of course, one "legitimate" use in a year doesn't quite justify the expense. Heh

        • #3144813
          Avatar photo

          Well this place is slightly better than that

          by hal 9000 ·

          In reply to I have one like that

          But only marginally. They have ADSL with a 8 port Router in place I put it there previously they had 1 Dial up connection for 6 computers so if someone wanted to get their E-Mail they had to kick everyone else off before they attempted to log on. That was supposed to make my life easier one would think. :^0

          Now I’m downloading the latest I Tunes at home and posting off a CD after I install the program from the CD to make certain that it works because he can’t seen to get the idea that you click on the [b]Download Now[/b] button. That was Wednesday last week and then on Friday I got the Phone Call asking how to put it in [b]Safe Mode[/b] and do and AV nd Spy Ware Scans.

          OH well I suppose I get paid a monthly retainer but I really didn’t expect to be spending so much time on the phone every time that he wants to do a Spy Ware Scan. But it gets even better as I do a lot of Remote Access he couldn’t understand why I couldn’t start his computer in [b]Safe Mode Remotely.[/b] 😀


        • #3145632

          Been there

          by nilt ·

          In reply to Well this place is slightly better than that

          I’m testing formatting in here to see if it works. If something breaks, well, you get the idea.

          >>Now I’m downloading the latest I Tunes at home and posting off a CD after I install the program from the CD to make certain that it works because he can’t seen to get the idea that you click on the Download Now button.<< I’ve had a CD like that for years. I call it my Onsite CD; it’s got stuff like iTunes, Acrobat Reader and so on. If it’s a pain to download on dialup it’s on my CD. I also use a thumb drive for stuff I might need specific to a job like printer drivers. I really hate twiddling my thumbs, waiting for a download to finish. >>OH well I suppose I get paid a monthly retainer but I really didn’t expect to be spending so much time on the phone every time that he wants to do a Spy Ware Scan.<< Yeah; I don’t do retainers or flat rates. They pay me by the hour in 15 minute increments. I also don’t charge trip fees or minimums except the first quarter hour. That applies to phone support as well. If something’s a 2 minute fix, I rarely bill for it but if I spend 45 minutes on the phone it’s billed. Most of my clients use me for phone support quite a lot. I make about 40% of my income by short phone calls. There’s nothing as great as billing for time walking someone through a spyware scan while playing a game (muted, of course).


          Edited for line breaks, I hope
          OK, edited for spelling, too.

    • #3143192

      And your point is…..

      by suisunian ·

      In reply to How long would you work on a computer?

      Firstly, if you agree to fix a friend’s computer for free and it takes you 10 hours it takes you 10 hours. If you’re going to whine about it don’t agree to do it in the first place. We’re all supposed to be professionals in here so we know what we’re up against. It’s not always pretty, but that’s life. Which reminds me of a dashboard sticker I used to see in some cars back in the day…the one about nobody rides for free… you know the one.
      Secondly, if you’re doing this for pay then you owe it to your customer to do the best possible job. You don’t give up and walk away when the job gets tough. You figure it out. You keep your customer informed as to your progress and let them make the decision to continue the fight or not.

      We have a policy at our shop: don’t lose customer data. When I determine that the disk needs to be wiped I install a new harddisk and put the fresh OS on that. I don’t touch the old one. After I’ve installed and updated malware protection, I carefully transfer the data from the old disk back to the new one. This process: OS install and configuration plus user app installs and data transfer can take up to 6 hours. If I can do it on the bench I charge up to 4 hours. When the process is completed, the old disk can be wiped and reused or can be stored as an archive. I show the users how to use and update the protection, but they often can’t grasp the process on one go. I encourage them to call me if they have any question at all so I can, hopefully, guide them away from evil. After that they’re on their own.

    • #3143112

      Its called the frustration factor, 2 hours reach’s mine

      by danlm ·

      In reply to How long would you work on a computer?

      2 hours is about right. If after running the gambit of various anti-virus, and it is still there. Enough, start over.
      I call it the frustration factor. When I have messed with a given machine to the point where Im ready to drop kick it, I have definatly spent too much time on it. Reformat, start over.
      I teach everyone the following: Partition, Partition, partition. Save everything to another area besides your desktop or c drive. Then, if anything happens. Your biggest worries are email and favorits. And I use gmail now, so I don’t even care about email anymore.
      Like I said, if I come near the frustration factor. I reformat. Might as well spend your time productively, and get a clean running system that is faster and correct.


    • #3145066

      How long would you work on a computer

      by oraedu ·

      In reply to How long would you work on a computer?

      Two Days


    • #3145065

      I have a dream, to drive this feeling to technology.

      by darkroare6 ·

      In reply to How long would you work on a computer?

      it depents.
      i’m a sinieur techschool geek lol.’
      i repare many computers put not for getting payed put for proving my self to be good enough.
      put sometimes its the computer thats learning me new things not the the people that use to tell me the problems only lol hahahaa.
      so its cainda dificult to accept sometimes put,
      there is a whole cainda thruf in what i’m saying.
      dont you get the feeling sometims that you just want to know something new.
      1. feeling free to know more is the be more curious about what could be wrong so to find faster anwsers to youre questions.
      2. its reability to teach the people and not the technican that are rules to follow when there is a troubel to target and shoot it down.
      3. what inspire us as technican well well.
      i’m yough and you have more exprirace as technican then i.
      so i should hear from you how it realy feel to hold on the glorry to troubel shoot on more time.
      that feeling is what made some of use realice and life that moment of advature of what we are made of and what we can do to make difrance in the socaiaty of today and tommoro.
      spiritualy with god on our side and the nolich of to know when to react when surten evel benair code use to come infront of use.
      and that is the time when must join forces and to one.
      To safe our people and to safe our selfs from evel and to gain the spirite we need for to fix and to learn about this world of cybernetic warfare.
      i hope i wasnt to emoshenal or curious.

    • #3145059
      Avatar photo

      With me it depends on the use of the computer

      by hal 9000 ·

      In reply to How long would you work on a computer?

      If it’s nothing more than a [b]Glorified Games Console[/b] I just blow away the entire OS and Reload. [i]That way I get out of having to do a reinstall of the Games.[/i]

      Business computers are a different story though as I can spend quite a lot of time recovering the Data but the actual repair is always done in under 12 hours even if it goes back with a different HDD in it and I send the recovered data back latter. It’s not so much of a problem now as I have got all my customers into a regimented Backup procedure so I can generally get away with just reloading their systems and going from there.


    • #3145055

      Great Discussion

      by ontario canada ·

      In reply to How long would you work on a computer?

      Some of my observations on which I’d love to see comments:

      1) It depends on the PC. Sometimes, it’s not worth putting in one hour fixing a PIII 500 Win 98 box when a refurbished replacement from your local PC store costs $200 with a newer installed OS.

      2) Installed software. I know it’s really rare – but sometimes people misplace thier ex-brother-in-laws copy of Office or Photoshop and therefore cannot reinstall the software. Amazingly, many people don’t even know that this software isn’t included in Windows. So, I always ask “can you reinstall all your software if the operating system is reinstalled from an emptied hard disk?” I have developed a document that attempts to explain what a “wipe and reload of Windows” really means.

      3) Expectations. People can present a machine that won’t even load the OS – even in safe mode – and, once the machine has been fixed, complain that their desktop icons are different or that thier margins in Microsoft Word are set differently. So, I spend some time trying to explain what exactly “fixed” might mean. This, of course, always depends on how bad things are when I start.

      Good thread – and this “is is worth the time” applies to so much in IT!

    • #3145010

      As long as it takes.

      by xstep ·

      In reply to How long would you work on a computer?

      As long as they pay for it. One thing I do is educate my customer (I don’t do much PC repair anymore) in back up and restore. Most people (windows users) don’t understand what should be backed up. I have gone days running antivirus scans. Is it worth it? Not when we had a PC repair store front.

      The big problem was always not having the product ID codes. Not having drivers and software disks. Windows users tend to “share” software! But in the end I could get the customer to understand the best and cheapest way at times is to re-install. After a day or so they would call and thank me latter saying they couldn’t recall the PC running as well as it does now. Just like new! because it is.

      Linux has never taken more than an hour to fix.

      • #3145652

        3 Hours Max Payment

        by chisel ·

        In reply to As long as it takes.

        As a professional that daily cleans up home systems we charge a Max of 3 hours of labour. we figure that a pro should be able to do this within that time. A rookie will take longer no doubt. If after an hour we can’t clean it. we backup and reinstall ( another 2 hours or so) Customers seem to appreciated this value and we get a lot of repeat business because of it.
        The more systems you do the faster you get.

    • #3144912

      Repair Time

      by john_l2003 ·

      In reply to How long would you work on a computer?

      2 hours sounds like the good round time for these sort of repairs. If the tech knows what they are doing, this sort of repair should take about that long or even less in some cases.

    • #3145462

      no definite time frame.

      by sir_cheats_alot ·

      In reply to How long would you work on a computer?

      depends entirely on whats wrong with it… and when they need it back. if there is no hurry.. i’ll work on it as long as it takes to get the “gunkware” out. Of course the ethical thing to do first is back up thier personal things(after it has been scanned by a couple different AV programs first).
      if they need it within the next two days; then i’ll backup what i can, and try to clean the infections.. hopefully that will take no more than 6 hours. if that fails rebuild, and start over. I had one case where i had just enough time to back up the person’s personal data, as well as their work data. It was one of those cases where windows would boot up for a few minutes and then reboot for seemingly no reason at all.
      I would start to scan for virii and malware, and then suddenly it would i rebuilt thier HP…with a dell CD (because they lost there HP recovery CDs or they forgot to burn them).. anyhow changed the key used by the dell cd to the one on the side of is case installed XP SP2 and a AV and firewall, and reportedly they haven’t had a problem since.

    • #3145432

      It depends on how you measure the time.

      by cubeslave ·

      In reply to How long would you work on a computer?

      I think the two to four hours at the keyboard is about the right average figure. I don’t like to wipe a system unless I can’t fix it, or the fix is going to take more hands-on time than a reinstall.

      I think any experienced tech has a collection of tools they use. After the intital assessment, there is a lot of starting a program, letting it run, then coming back when it is finished and seeing the result. Since some tools may take hours to run, I don’t think it is fair to count that time unless that one machine is the only thing you are working on.

      It can easily take two and four hours to do a backup and reinstall depending on the equipment, the ammount of data and software involved, and whether you can find all the software disks and drivers needed.

      Even if you use a drive image, installing the updates and patches since the last image was created can eat up a lot of time.

      • #3164566

        my primary tools

        by sir_cheats_alot ·

        In reply to It depends on how you measure the time.

        Yep everyone has thier share of tools and resources.
        My personal favorites are the Ultimate Boot CD, and Ultimate Boot CD 4 Windows(unfortunatly you can only make it using a Windows XP CD, and Bart’s PE). the vast majority of the time i don’t need much of anything else. i have a few other tools in my bag as well 😉
        UBCD4Win has several useful tools..i believe it has a drive image app on it. a few dfferent AV apps, and cd burning, system tuning, and other tools.
        while the Original UBCD has several boot loaders, Hard disk setup tools, partion table editors, and it has INSERT(based on Knoppix)which has seveeral tools of it’s own, AV apps, and so on.
        it can be very time consuming to run AV, and malware removers, and then backup files…it can easily take several hours to do so. especially on old systems.
        At times 2-4 hour jobs can and often do turn into 3-6 hour jobs, with or without using drive imaging.(add about a hour on to that)
        Drive imaging takes seemingly forever, i can usually have someones files backed up and system rebuilt in about the same amount of time it would take to build and restore a disk image, so i don’t even bother with imaging software.

        • #3145861

          Total time at the keyboard.

          by cubeslave ·

          In reply to my primary tools

          I haven’t been doing much tech work in a few years, so I may have to take a look at what you mentioned.

          I thought the question was how long should you work on a system before resorting to a reload. Back when I was consulting there were times at client sites where you just had to sit at the system the whole time, but normally you work for a few minutes, let a program run, come back and do some more. I was trying to give a figure for the actual ammount of time working on the system.

          Aside from image disks shipped with some PCs, drive reimaging is still pretty much only happens in a business environment.

          When I’ve had to reload my system I’ve thought about making an image before I load my data back, but I never get around to doing it.

          Maybe next time I’ll at least make an image of the OS load after I get all of the drivers and updates in place.

    • #3164826


      by scorpion_saga ·

      In reply to How long would you work on a computer?

      “Most” times if we are talking about repairing a ‘home” or ‘freinds” computer, these days I dont even bother digging and scrathing things out. I tell people it will take as long as it does to save whatever data I can and re-install all the software, or, back up the system to factory specs, then I charge them a nominal 50 dollars for being dumb and cheap enough not to buy anti-virus software. hehe …..

    • #3113073

      Sometimes, 10 minutes is enough.

      by cmichael1 ·

      In reply to How long would you work on a computer?

      If a computer is severely infected with viruses and spyware, I believe that the computer is untrustworthy from this point on and the only option to clean the system is to back up all the data and do a complete clean install. Hopefully the files that you backup will survive a virus scan and be recoverable. If not, I explain that to the customer and instruct them on how to prevent this in the future. When I say sometimes 10 minutes is enough, I mean that I would not spent any more than that on trying to clean the system of viruses and spyware. When I do a clean install, I partition the hard drive into two parts, a system drive and a storage drive. I then create a directory on the storage drive called “Documents” or “My Documents”. Then after the clean install, I right click on the My Documents folder on the desktop, click on Properies, and click on “Move”. I then chose the “My Documents” folder on the storage partition and click OK. I then inform the customer that everything that is saved to his “My Documents” folder will actually be saved to D:\My Documents. This way if the system partition is infected again, all that I have to do is do a clean install on the C drive and move the My Documents folder back to the storage drive. All in date is intact and ready for use. This system will save time in the initial recovery and in future recoveries.

    • #3113040

      If he’s a good friend..well…

      by jrivera86 ·

      In reply to How long would you work on a computer?

      I would say that 2 hours for regular computer maintenance on an infected pc is about right. What I try to do is teach them so they learn to try nt getting infected.

    • #3112945

      2 hour Max For Malware/Virus

      by rhughes ·

      In reply to How long would you work on a computer?

      We only allow working 2 hours then re-image if virus or malware. Most other problems we only allow up to 4 hurs before re-image.

      • #3112758
        Avatar photo

        And sometimes you’ll get caught out

        by hal 9000 ·

        In reply to 2 hour Max For Malware/Virus

        I did this earlier this week I was handed a NB with a horrendous number of infections on it. A quick once over with the installation of an AV Scanner and some Male Ware scanners removed most of the problems but the Modem was no longer present and the unit was placing a series of lower case y’s into every field that I opened.

        I checked the obvious being a stuck key on the keyboard but that wasn’t the problem so I suggested that I wipe and reinstall the entire thing. I should have thrown in a Live Linux CD or DVD first it would have saved so much time & effort. The Y thing was happening all the time even with a blank HDD so I was looking at some kind of Hardware failure so I whipped out the Keyboard and plugged in an external PS2 Keyboard thinking that would cure the problem no dice and I was stuck with needing some way to enter a Product Key when all I could get was a 25 charter string of Y’s.

        Needless to say that wasn’t one of my better days. 😀


    • #3112761

      58 Viruses, 279 malware and 17 hours later …

      by lalizoub ·

      In reply to How long would you work on a computer?

      This is my best time. With no original CD’s
      by the end it work.

    • #3111253

      howlong 2 recover data & reinstall.

      by michael_orton9 ·

      In reply to How long would you work on a computer?

      The first thing that I do is too boot with a Linux bootable CD/boot floppy, then grab control of DVD writer (or stick in a USB HD) and grab all their saved work AND the windows XP installation codes and activation codes.Ditto MS office/Ms works.
      This takes well under an hour.
      If they don’t have a proper XP installation disk, just a back up partition, I reformat with partition magic 8, making two partitions.(Can take a long time on a 250 gig disk. usually get them to make me a meal!)one for programs NTFS and one for saved work, either fat32 or NTFS.
      I then install my “slipstreemed” copy of XP, and then overwrite my codes with theirs. Its legal as they have paid for OEM pseudo-copy in the back-up partition.
      This takes best part of an hour.
      Another 30 mins for office, less for works, then I install any software they have on Cds, then restore their saved work, and then alter Office/Works to save into “saved work” partition.
      I also get them to buy,on line, download a copy of Frisk’s fpwin and set it for hourly update checks, windows defender,(set it to rename never delete, infected files,) CCleaner, etc.
      Then create restore points in XP, if win98se (still in very wide use, I take a disk image of the restored system on a dvd or USB HD. (ALDIs now have very cheap ones ?80. I also find their ?7.99 powered x4 USB ports very useful.)

      I also install CDburnerXPpro, ERUNT, AIDA, XXcopy,Showstopper, Motherboard Monitor, etc. (all free s/w that does what MS products don’t!)

      I usually use my f-prot floppy set to see if there is aboot sector virus that needs “ethnicaly cleansing” before using PM-8.
      I have found that sometimes PM-8 fails to format if boot sector virus is present. Sometimes I have to resort to Norton’s “DiskDoctor” first.

      I do have a collection of windows recovery tools but its easier to smash your way into the system using a live Linux distro.(Knoppix or DSL)
      If the problem is very complex, or if I don’t want to spare the time at their place (they don’t have latest TV set or DVD player, or Videos and DVds that I want to watch! Or drinks that I like!)I remove their HD, take it home and stick it into my dual boot “data recovery PC,” which has the Hds in caddies.
      This method seems to work very well, and can be undertaken whilst having a meal or watching TV,DVds etc, as I have this PC in the lounge.
      I have a huge collection of both legitimate data recovery tools and plain hacking tools in both XP and Linux partitions, as well as PM-8 installed.
      basically I will use any tool, wherever it comes from, on just one criteria, one that I have used in computing since 1961 (Stretch supercomputer and Fortran-2)
      “If it works, its legal! so who cares?”
      The longest that I have ever spent on virus removal was 2 hours, there were well over 250 infected files and also a boot sector virus (Russian Flag).
      Often if it is 98se, I stick in a second HD from my stock of used ones (4-8 gig cost a few pounds only) and set office etc to make backup copy on spare HD.
      I find these s/h Hds outlast the new 250Gig + ones and often I get them free. I format these fat32. Sometimes I leave a compiled batch file (using bat2com.exe) that uses the non Microsoft XXcopy to back up their files during each shutdown, I use Karenware’s “Showstopper” for this shutdown, as the proper MS files doesn’t like it.

    • #3229984

      I’ve been working on this for 36 years

      by jack-m ·

      In reply to How long would you work on a computer?

      I was introduced to computers, what is now called broadband and related stuff at Bell Labs in 1970.
      I guess that means I’ve been working on a computer of one sort or another for 36.5 years.
      I’ll get it right someday.
      I had a recent experience that points up the real thrust of this question. A friend who knows nothing about computers went out and bought one with no idea what he was doing. Fortunately computers are so commonplace today he did OK. He then got broadband service from the local cable TV company, Adelphia, they hooked him up but he couldn’t access the internet. After a month of service calls to Adelphia and his hours of trying he got mad and called Verizon for the same service. He disconnected Adelohia and connected Verizon. Still couldn’t get on the internet. He tried for a month again. When he’d make calls asking for service from both of them they would send a guy out and both gave him the same answer.
      “Your broadband connection is working fine and we stop at the demarcation point”. He called me as a last resort and I spent 2 hours on his computer.
      Most of that time was spent d/loading SpyBot, AdAware, and 1 or 2 other free anti malware, spyware,virus etc. programs and running them.
      His only problem is he bought a floor model which had been hooked up in a Staples store accessible to anyone who wanted to play. Ergo he had thousands of crap files on his HD and all he needed was for it to be cleaned up. I got a real kick out of watching him as I sat there apparantely doing nothing while these programs downloaded and then scanned….fixing his problem. I charged him $25 an hour just cuz he was so stupid for going into this so blind and without asking me, who had told him I’d help him pick out and buy the computer and software when he made up his mind. He chose to do it alone. HaHa. I also got a lot of word of mouth biz from him because he went around bragging on Jack that I did what Adelphia and Verizon couldn’t do. LOL
      Jack the computer tutor

    • #3230996

      Friends and Family

      by dracnoc ·

      In reply to How long would you work on a computer?

      I see that quite a few go along with the 2-3
      hour limit, which works well for me. I’ll start
      off with a free “consultation”. I find it’s not
      just enough to open a case or fire up an OS to
      see what the problem is, most of the time it’s
      the way people use their computer that creates
      the problem – illegal downloads, not worrying
      about where e-mail attachments came from,
      obscure freeware, giving the kids more admin
      rights than they can handle, etc. A little bit
      of education goes a long way. Of course, people
      can innocently send a virus via email and
      someone else end up with the problem – and so
      on, so it’s not always their direct fault.

      If possible, I try to tell them as much as
      possible of what I plan to do before I start
      anything, it seems to put them at ease a little
      before I have to open cases or start whistling
      as the virus scanner hits a new high-score (the
      highest I’ve seen on a personal PC was 600
      viruses and 487 spyware… that was a fun day).

      As to the cost of things, I’m fair. If it’s not
      their fault, I go easy on them, if it is their
      fault, I’ll nearly make them wish they never
      purchased the computer in the first place 🙂

      For friends and family though I’ll tell them not
      to worry about the cost and “just remember me at
      Christmas”. I’m not doing it again though…
      Last year I ended up with so many bottles of
      various types of alcohol I don’t even remember
      January, February wasn’t much better.

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