Tech DIY can cause problems

Kristyn Soltis

Students should not try to fix computers, gadgets on their own

Bryan Zinser never took electronics apart when he was younger. He was too afraid of getting yelled at by his parents. Instead, he looked through the dead components to figure out how a device worked.

Today, Zinser is working on earning a network engineering certificate. He’s the guy his friends turn to when their computer’s hard drive fries or their iPod freezes.

But when do you stop turning to your electronic-savvy friend or repair shop for help to bring your gadgets back from the dead and finally replace them?

Jackie Haren, senior English major, attempted to fix her computer herself when the screen turned blue and read “error.”

“My computer just broke, and I tried to do everything in the world to fix it, and I just made it worse,” Haren said.

She went online to find how-to tutorials that would help her revive her desktop. When her attempt at revival failed, Haren replaced her computer.

Dan Froehlich, of EMC Computers, said doing it yourself might not be the answer. His electronics repair shop fixes computers, Xboxes and LCD flat-screen monitors.

“We are in the information age so it’s easy to figure out how to take your stuff apart,” said Froehlich, manager of the store on East Main Street. “But if you’re not careful and you don’t know what you’re doing when you get in there, it’s real easy to make it worse.”

Haren said she wanted to try everything she could herself before taking the computer to a repair shop because she believes they charge too much.

“The reason I say that is because I would have ended up paying $300-400 to have them look into that computer when I could have just looked at the tutorials,” Haren said. “They gave me enough information to know that I was not going to be able to fix it. If this stuff did not work, I knew it wasn’t going to work.”

Zinser said people should be cautious about trying to fix electronics on their own and take any information they get from the Internet with a grain of salt.

“I think the best solution is to find some kid that enjoys working with a computer, and ask them for help,” Zinser said. “It’s always cheaper to do stuff yourself, but the price you end up paying is your time.”

EMC Computers, soon to be named PC Surgeons, said they only receive complaints about repairs taking too long during the peak busy times of the year.

“For example, the past four weeks when the students just came back, we tend to get about 20 some systems checked in a day,” Froehlich said. “And that’s when things tend to take a little while just because we have to go through everybody that was in first before we can get to what’s up on the bench that needs to go up.”

EMC Computer’s average turn around time is within 24 hours.

Froehlich said the most common problem with computers is viruses.

“The best thing I can say to avoid getting a virus is be careful of what you click on,” Froehlich said. “Don’t open everything everybody sends you. If you see an ad and you click on it because it says you’re going to get something for free, you’re probably not going to get something for free.”

Froehlich said the average lifespan of a desktop is four to five years, and three to five years for a laptop, depending on how they’re taken care of.

“People replace their gadgets all the time, but it seems they neglect upgrading or replacing their computers,” Zinser said.

Haren did. After her computer failure, she bought a replacement – the first one since 1999.

Contact technology reporter Kristyn Soltis at [email protected].