When your computer won’t stop crashing, it’s time to get help. Sam Escochea of theIDTGroup in Phoenix, Arizona is a top-rated computer pro who specializes in repairing PC laptops and desktops. Get his expert insights on when a repair can save your machine, and when it’s better to redirect your hard-earned money into a new computer.
When to Fix: Virus Removal and Damaged Parts
Every computer pro prices differently, according to Sam. He charges by the hour and never charges for more than 2 hours of work (no matter how long the job takes).
Virus removal is the top issue for Sam’s customers. In this case, you’re only paying for the labor. “Viruses especially prey on the elderly or those who aren’t as tech savvy,” he says. “Clients who get pop up messages saying, ‘Your computer is going to blow up if you don’t call this number so we can remove the threats.’ One client was paying $395 every few months to a scammer!”
Other calls have to do with hard drive failure, water damage and screen repair. A new hard drive can cost $40 – 60 or more (depending on the brand and storage capacity), plus labor. Water damage is worth fixing as long as it hasn’t damaged the motherboard. If you spill water on your laptop keyboard, you may be able to replace the keyboard but keep the rest of the machine. The parts alone cost between from $27 – 150, not counting labor.
Sam’s team usually charges between $115 – 130 to replace a standard LCD screen. But the digitizers for touch screens are imported and expensive, so that may be a time to consider a new monitor altogether.
When to Replace: Old Hardware or Unsupported Software
Sam says two factors could be a sign that it’s time to get a new computer: your operating system and the age of the machine itself.
“Look at your operating system,” he says. “If your PC is still running Windows Vista or XP and you need repairs, you should probably just invest in a new computer. Those old operating systems are slow and won’t get the software support you need from Microsoft because they’re not updating those systems anymore.”
Consider how old your hardware is, too. If you bought the computer 5 years ago for $500, ask yourself if it’s worth it to replace the screen and upgrade the hard drive for $250. You could easily use that money toward a new computer with more space on the hard drive, a newer operating system, and better technology.
“Keep in mind that in today’s world, you can buy a new, basic computer for $300,” advises Sam. “I always try to explain, especially to older folks, that they may not need a high power machine if they’re just writing email and visiting websites.”
You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars — unless you’re running a lot of programs. For example, heavy Excel use means you might want a faster processor.
How to Avoid Computer Issues
You may not be able to hold onto your computer forever, but you can keep problems from getting worse by backing up your hard drive.
“It’s not a matter of ‘if’ your hard drive will fail, it’s a matter of ‘when,’” says Sam. “At around 5 years, you’ll start experiencing hard drive problems but you don’t know when it’s going to happen.”
A backup is a particular lifesaver if you have a virus issue. “We just wipe your computer clean and reinstall the backup,” Sam explains.