Angie's LIST Guide to
Computers

Computers are as basic to most households as television. As with TV, many homes have more than one computer to accommodate everyone's needs. The good news is that as price goes down, speed goes up.
 

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Most all homes have at least one computer for family use. But like any appliance, parts break and maintenance and repairs are a must. Learn how to best take care of your home computer and learn tips you can use when next shopping for a new one. (Photo courtesy of Angie’s List member Joseph M.)
Most all homes have at least one computer for family use. But like any appliance, parts break and maintenance and repairs are a must. Learn how to best take care of your home computer and learn tips you can use when next shopping for a new one. (Photo courtesy of Angie’s List member Joseph M.)
 
 
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What to know before buying a computer

There are many things to consider when choosing a home computer, but the first thing to know is that it's best to buy new. Three years is the average time a computer stays relevant in this digital world, so buying used can be impractical.

Before you buy, consider major aspects of a computer:

Operating system (OS): Decide if you want your computer to run on a Windows or Mac OS. Feelings can run strongly for either choice. Spend some time talking to friends and others, read online information and compare features and costs.

Computer processing unit (CPU): Considered the brains of the machine, the CPU directly affects performance and price.

Memory: The amount of memory required depends on how the machine will be used. For example, a computer used only for basic web browsing and emails requires less memory than one used to run a business.

Monitor: Larger monitors may reduce eye strain and time spent scrolling, but the decision is strictly personal.   Monitors generally range from 14 to 22 inches, though they can be smaller or larger.

Warranty: You'll probably be offered the chance to buy an extended warranty or service plan. This, too, is a personal decision. Some computer users feel more secure with a service plan while others believe they aren't worth the money.

If you're unsure of what kind of computer to buy, or what features you'll need, consider asking the help of a  professional who repairs computers or trains people in their use. Angie's List members have access to local consumer reviews on computer technicians and trainers, as well as service providers in more than 550 other categories.

Using and maintaining a computer

Proper maintenance will keep a home computer running well. A few minutes spent on tests and updates can avert frustrating crashes and sluggish performance.

Follow these computer maintenance tips:

  • Consistently back up stored data and install recommended updates as you are notified of them. This can help you avoid viruses, security breaches and hardware incompatibilities.
  • Uninstall unused programs and files to free up space. Regularly defragment the hard drive and use search-and-destroy spyware to remove unknown items. If you aren't familiar with these processes, consider hiring a computer service to help you.
  • Clean out dust and grime that accumulates outside and inside the machine. Use a small vacuum to remove dust and then spray with compressed canned air.

A computer technician or trainer can help you with computer maintenance. Computer experts are among the more than 550 categories of service providers on Angie's List.

What computer pros can do

Rather than buy a new model at the first sign of trouble, take your computer to a repair service. Many problems are fixable. Technicians can diagnose, repair, upgrade and offer expert advice.

Viruses are the most common reason people seek computer repair services. Signs that a computer has a virus include slow performance and inability to launch programs. Early detection is key. Consult with a computer repair technician to find out what can be done. The fact is, the technician has probably seen the problem before and can have the computer up and running again quickly.

Other services of computer technicians include:

  • Replacing broken parts or fixing glitches with hardware or software.
  • Adding components to help a computer work at a higher level. If your computing needs change, adding a faster CPU, larger hard drive, more memory or new accessories may be a better value than replacing your computer.
  • Recovering data. Even if the computer itself cannot be repaired, technicians can often retrieve data from a broken or failing hard drive.

Comments

There is great advice above but I would add to it to find a computer repair service that comes to the home or office. Do you reaky want to crawl under your desk and mess with all those cables and whatnot and drag your computer into the shop only to repeat reverse of that task wen your computer is hopefuly fixed. I think it's preferred to have the computer fixed as it sits if possible and you may get some questions answered as a bonus.

I actually agree with Mike's comment. The best thing you can do is find someone who will come out to you. It is definitely not worth going through all the trouble to bring a computer to their place. Computer repair is a professional service, they should come to, just as a plumber or electrician does.

CPU is more important part in computer when you are buying to configure PC then check processor, Memory, Mother board, etc. Your information is right way to navigate people who want to buy Computer.

Thank You

depending on the problem, it may be better for the tech to repair at their shop where they will have all their resources and tools at hand. they may need to order parts, u never know.

I personally work in PC Repair in Wilmington, North Carolina You can use Angie's List to find the most reputable Computer Repair Services in just about every city in this country. You have to decide what is indeed the issue with the computer/laptop. Of course that varies. Is your computer running much slower than before? Does it get slower with continuous use. Are there new pop-ups or windows that now prompt you that your computer is "infected." Most of these "new" issues are indeed some form of virus or worse, a root kit.

A computer professional should be able to diagnose and remove these annoying problems, but be aware that as more and more people are getting on the internet, more and more issues are surfacing due to developing countries trying to rip off us who just want to use the computer for our enjoyment. It is a sad state of affairs, but that is the reality of this.

Most slowness issues are just a bunch of excess files stored on your computer, desktop, etc. that does not need to be there. A computer professional should be able to clean up these issues then speed up your computer via defragmentation. Maybe you just need more RAM in you computer to speed it up. That same professional should be able to assess if your computer indeed needs that, and hopefully inexpensively recommend additional RAM for your computer if it supports it.

Bottom line is search Angie's List for Computer Repair/Services and call a technician to come to your home, or you can bring your computer to their store.

MY VIVO TAB WONT START . I BEEN TOLD THAT IT HAS A MOTHER BOARD SHORT SOME WHERE.I WANT TO KNOW ABOUT HOW MUCH IT WOULD COST TO GET IT FIXED... PS. NEED MY TABLET...

Hi
I saw your post and I am having similar issues with an ASUS tablet. It was a mother board issue and over 2 months later I still don't have a tablet and they want to send me a refurbished unit for my brand new unit. I was wondering if you have had similar result in dealing with ASUS. Please let me know. Thanks

As noted in previous comments, having a service like mine based in Hudson, FL that will come to you is very desirable, for a number of reasons. Besides not having to crawl around unplugging and moving cables and components (and remember how to put it all back together!), there is always the chance that the problem might involve interactions between the computer and connected devices. Also, some work, including setting up or modifying in home networks and connections with other wireless devices needs to be done at the point of use. It also allows me to educate my customers about avoiding viruses, etc.

What about the services offered online? That claim to be able to do the scanning and repairs working from their computer. I agree with the earlier commentors, I don't want to move my PC; and it would be even nicer if I didn't have to coordinate having a repair tech in my home. Thank you for your time!!

I like your post all the information that's you provide about OS,CPU,Memory and Monitor is helpful and specially your point spend some time talking to friends and others,read online information.

I have a 10 year old lap top that I really like but somehow the monitor got cracked and looks like a broken piece of glass. I don't want to get another laptop I like this one. Any ideas on where or how or if I can get this fixed (it's a Dell Inspiron)

Hi Marcia, You can find local computer repair companies on Angie's List! Click here to start your search: http://www.angieslist.com/companylist/us/

 

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