How to Find a Good Computer Tech

by Roberta Piket on December 9, 2008

in Messages from the Owner,Tech Thoughts and Tips

From my experience with the hundreds of clients we’ve served, I’ve come up with some tips about how to identify a good computer tech. I’d like to share them with the general public.

  • A good tech likes to educate. While onsite, she will answer your questions patiently and in as much detail as you want. A good tech does not use phrases like “you’ll just have to trust me.” You have a right to feel comfortable and understand everything the tech is doing to YOUR equipment. All of our techs are good communicators and enjoy the interactive aspects of our work.
  • A good tech will provide references upon request. Generally, when requested, we provide references from clients that are in the same category (residential, small business, sole proprietor) as the prospective client requesting the reference. We are also very proud of the feedback our clients have left on our own testimonials page.
  • A good tech behaves in a courteous and professional manner, arrives on-time or calls if he is running late, and does not make inappropriately personal comments.
  • A good tech should arrive prepared with the proper tools to do the job. If the tech does not have the tools to finish the job that day, she should advise the client of that fact before work begins.
  • A good tech does not try to sell you a new hard drive or other peripheral based on a phone comversation. It’s hard to tell if a hard drive has failed without running a diagnostic. It could simply be file corruption, and a new drive may not be necessary.
  • A good tech has respect (even reverence) for your data and makes sure it is safely backed up. A good tech will NEVER tells you he must reformat (“wipe”) your hard drive without first retrieving your critical data (word docs, excel files, financial info, customer lists). If the hard drive has not failed, it is almost always possible for a professional tech to retrieve most or all of your data even if you cannot start Windows. If the hard drive has failed, it should be replaced, not over-written. Your data may still be retrievable!
  • A good tech will give you an idea of how long the job will take before he starts. Please do not mistake this for a firm estimate. In most cases, it is impossible to know how long the job will take without seeing the computer. This is because a job that takes an hour on a modern computer might take two hours or more on an older computer with not enough memory, a slower processor, or too little hard drive space. If your computer either needs an upgrade, or is not worth fixing because it is too old, we will provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision about whether to proceed.
  • A good tech will take no longer than three hours to clean a spyware/malware/virus infection off your computer. If the tech thinks the job will take longer than that, the tech should either offer you a flat rate to do the job off-site, or will instead suggest wiping the hard drive (after backing up the user’s data) and reinstalling Windows. If done OFF-SITE, this shouldn’t take more than three hours of labor. We generally do malware clean-up and Windows installations in our workspace rather than on-site because it is more time-efficient and therefore saves you money. We do not charge extra for the pick-up and drop-off of your computer. Our standard turn-around time is three days; but sometimes we can get the computer back to you faster than that.
  • A good tech sells legally licensed software, and will refuse to install pirated or illegal or “volume licensed” software. If the product is a Microsoft product such as Windows OS or MS Office, eventually Microsoft’s validation software will detect the pirated software and you will be unable to receive important security updates, or might even be unable to use your computer. We will advise our clients on the pitfalls of using pirated software, including effects they may not see until long after the provider of the illegal software has disappeared.
  • A good tech is not afraid to admit when she makes a mistake, and will not charge you for the time involved. Of course, the tech cannot guarantee that every issue can be resolved to the client’s liking. There may be a software incompatibility or hardware failure that cannot be helped. However, like a good doctor, a good tech will explain to you what the expectations for success are before work begins. Before we schedule an appointment with you, we will discuss any issues over the phone to determine if we believe we can help you in an economical and efficient manner.