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What Tools do i need to build and repair a pc

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October 10, 2010 10:05:51 PM

I am currently studying comp A+ and afterwards if i pass i would like to offer computer repairs in my local area.

I have just bought a practice pc and know I need to buy the tools to help me fix it.

I was thinking I would need the following to start. If you could let me know what else you think i need that would be great.

Screwdriver + pliers tool kit
Anti static strap and mat
Wireless dongle
Usb drive.

Thanks for the help.




More about : tools build repair

October 10, 2010 10:12:56 PM

I think you have the basics covered at least. A soldering iron etc. may also come in handy for repairs. You can't replace thorough knowledge and experience. Good luck :) 
October 10, 2010 10:30:13 PM

Spare parts to help in troubleshooting such as a monitor, power supply, video card, ..., etc.
Related resources
October 10, 2010 10:39:26 PM

A screwdriver and a brain can get you a long ways. As said above, spare parts can be incredibly helpful in finding whats wrong, if you test with a known good power supply and it suddenly works you've found the problem.

You might want to have a couple of CDs with diagnostic software loaded on them, like Memtest
October 10, 2010 10:41:39 PM

I do this for a living (8 years)

You'll almost never need pliers. Buy yourself several screwdrivers, some tiny for laptops and some normal size for desktops. Get a smartphone that can browse the web - that will be indispensable when the PC you are working on can't. Buy a rack of RAM - that solves most of the speed problems people will hire you for. Buy USB hard drive caddies - one each for 2.5 and 3.5 inch HDs, one each for SATA and PATA. That's 4 total. Buy hard drives by the half dozen - don't bother getting big ones, just 160 or 250 GB of SATA and 80-120 of PATA which can stay at home for bigger problem where you need to replace a hard drive.

You need a good OEM copy of as many versions of Windows as you can find. A Dell XP Home disc will work fine on another maker's computer, the only difference is that if you install on a Dell it will be pre-activated, but if you install anywhere else you must type in the license code from the sticker on the PC.

Always have in your car these parts - 2 wireless routers, 1 power supply, 1 DVDRW drive, 2 wireless USB cards, 1 wireless mini PCI card, 1 wireless microPCI card, 1 good USB and PS2 keyboard, 1 good optical USB and PS2 mouse.

Nothing is more valuable than "first do no harm". You'll (have to) learn this the hard way, but NEVER EVER do anything that puts your client's data at greater risk than it was when you got there. Always back up important irreplaceable data before doing anything risky.

Buy a stack of 4 or 8 GB USB flash drives to sell to clients as quick easy backup methods. The script I created works wonders for simplicity:

xcopy "%userprofile%\Favorites" /c /d /h /e /i /y "x:\Backup\Favorites"
xcopy "%userprofile%\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook" /c /d /h /e /i /y "x:\Backup\Outlook"
xcopy "%userprofile%\Local Settings\Application Data\Identities" /c /d /h /e /i /y "x:\Backup\Outlook Express"
xcopy "%userprofile%\Application Data\Microsoft\Address Book" /c /d /h /e /i /y "x:\Backup\OE Address Book"
xcopy "%userprofile%\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook" /c /d /h /e /i /y "x:\Backup\Outlook Autocomplete"
xcopy "%userprofile%\Application Data\Microsoft\Signatures" /c /d /h /e /i /y "x:\Backup\Outlook Signatures"
xcopy "%userprofile%\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles" /c /d /h /e /i /y "x:\Backup\Firefox"
xcopy "C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Documents" /c /d /h /e /i /y "x:\Backup\All Users Docs"
xcopy "C:\drivers" /c /d /h /e /i /y "x:\Backup\Drivers"
xcopy "%userprofile%\Desktop" /c /d /h /e /i /y "x:\Backup\Desktop"
xcopy "%userprofile%\My Documents" /c /d /h /e /i /y "x:\Backup\My Documents"
pause

Make it automated with System Scheduler. If a backup requires the user to do anything, it will never happen. Count on it.

Don't ever waste your time building PCs for anyone. It's a ton of your time, a ton of financial investment, very very very little profit, and a huge liability down the road if something breaks. You'll be expected to fix it for free if it turns out to be bad hardware, which a certain percentage of parts are guaranteed to be. Let them buy off the shelf from any PC maker, you do the fixing later.

Oh, and come up with a friends and family rate that you feel comfortable with. Don't fix anyone's computer for free unless you are trying to get laid. If you're good, then you'll be busy, and you'll HATE wasting time fixing computers for free. Your friends and family are your best source of referrals (at least at first) so you want to be happy to work for them, not bitter because you're doing it for free. Your time is limited and valuable, treat it as such.

That being said - if someone calls because their internet doesn't work, be sure to spend 5 minutes trying to help them over the phone. NO ONE knows what a modem or a router are, so help them find them, and restart over the phone. If that fixes it, great - you would have been paid almost nothing anyway and doing 5 minute jobs is hell on scheduling. Plus they will LOVE you forever and they will refer you to friends who have real problems. If you are impatient or condescending to your clients, they will hate you, and won't call you again. They'll call me instead.

Good luck. Don't compete on price with the neighbor's kid. Be better and more expensive and give the best service. Wins hands down. I should charge for this advice...
October 10, 2010 10:50:30 PM

You may want to carry around your A+ book(if you are studying one).... I have found it a helpful reference book.

I also have a server I got for free, which I use as a mirror for most of my diagnostic stuff, you could probably do the same thing with a site like www.filefactory.com . They have payouts for every 1000 downloads... a nice feature...

goodluck!

@CameronJPU you do win this one... =D
October 11, 2010 3:40:56 AM

cameronjpu said:
...
Nothing is more valuable than "first do no harm". You'll (have to) learn this the hard way, but NEVER EVER do anything that puts your client's data at greater risk than it was when you got there. Always back up important irreplaceable data before doing anything risky.
...

That's a really good one. Even if you can't fix it (which is bound to happen sometimes), don't make things worse.

As to tools, you'll find one or more flashlights useful, at least one of which should be hands-free.
Spare cables of every conceivable type...SATA, USB, parallel, IDE, floppy, power, ethernet, ethernet CROSSOVER, telephone, VGA; those are just the ones that quickly come to mind.
A few common lithium coin cells, like CR2032, CR2325, and CR2016.
I used to carry spare ATA paddles and drive controllers, but they went out years ago; a spare video card or two may be helpful in rare cases. To expand on what cameronjpu said though, you don't want to sell hardware, because it's a big liability and there's no money in it. You'll use your spares just to help identify a bad part, which they'll need to replace (but you can install it).
October 11, 2010 4:37:28 AM

Spare video card - go for the lowest common denominator. Try to find an old PCI video card. It will work in anything with a vanilla PCI slot.
October 11, 2010 8:47:56 PM

What oem versions do i need

I was thinking

xp home
vista
Windows 7 home

How much will these cost me.

Any others ones you think i need.
October 11, 2010 9:20:19 PM

Good stuff!!! I've been doing this since '95 (Windows AND year!!)

For the actual Tools - A small set of micro-screw drivers - Phillips and straight. You can find this in little plastic box cases, so you don't lose them.

A larger handle "only" screw driver (8" is a good size, don't get a stubby one, or your knuckles will be really cut up when you have to go inside a case) with change-able bit holder - and then get a 48 (or other sizes) bit set (Example1 or Example2) that includes Star head, hex head, square head, usually both SAE and Metric, etc. All those can easily fit in a door pocket of your car.

I found it's best to keep those tools in your car for your road trips, and have another set of tools at your work area or desk.

And about the phone help - I've probably saved 75% of actually road trips by spending a few minutes on the phone, and even emailing help. Sometime it's even good to just do this - it's GREAT when you can help them in 5 minutes FREE, because then they WILL be calling you when they need $$$ support- and telling all their friends about it.

Also go online and get a box (1000-2000) simple business cards made - with at LEAST your name, number, and email. Keep 100+ in a zip lock in your car too, not to mention 5-10 in your computer bag, a few in your wallet, some in your glove box or center console storage area of your car. I've seen some places where you can get 1000 for less than $5 (plus shipping).
October 12, 2010 12:13:02 AM

vallumlj said:
What oem versions do i need

I was thinking

xp home
vista
Windows 7 home

How much will these cost me.

Any others ones you think i need.


XP home, XP pro. Vista Home Premium. 7 Home Premium. Those are most important. Hopefully you can find them free from someone getting rid of their computer!
July 25, 2012 8:10:02 PM

I think you have the fundamentals protected at least. A soldering metal etc. may also come in useful for fixes. You can't substitute thorough encounter and information.
!