What type of tools do you need for effective computer repair? Not as much as you would think...
For hand you need a bare minimum of a flat head (common) screw driver and a Philips #2 (cross point) screw driver, an anti static wrist strap, and either a screw/small parts retrieval
fingers or a magnet on a rod.
Not much there and except for the retrieval gizmo most people have these some where in the house or office space.
What about your 'software' or 'IT tool box'
That gets a little more complicated.
What is in your toolbox or kit?
If you only have to take care of one or two computers this is the minimum:
- A bootable floppy (DOS) [now obsolete] or usb pen drive (DOS, ERD, or Linux?) that has been tested and you know it works.
- A ERD cd (Emergency Repair Disc - Vista/Windows 7
/ 8 /10) or ERD Commander (my favorite*).
- An imaging program such as Symantec's Ghost or True Image
- A copy of the Operating System CD/DVD that is installed on the computer
- Anti virus software for viruses/trojan/spyware/malware on bootable media.
* ERD Commander will work with Vista/Windows 7 but be careful with adding, deleting, or changing files, the file system is the old XP SP 1 file system and it will corrupt the partition.
(ERD Commander and the BartPE disk will not initialize a SATA II or III
That is about it, covers most of your bases, if the computer dies you have the tools to open it up and see what is going on inside.
If it blue screens then depending on the reason for the blue screen you can
either use the ERD to do a restore from a restore point (Windows 7 / 8 /
10 only) or if it was a driver that caused the blue screen using the ERD disk delete then replace the driver.
Note: If you delete a hardware driver you may be causing yourself more problems, if it is for the memory, processor, or hard drive, use this advice with caution.
With a good image of the OS install and you did something that caused the blue screen such as changing a driver or an update that caused the failure then the fastest and easiest way to get the computer/OS operational again is to replace the OS partition with the image, done in less than an hour, a lot shorter than reinstalling the OS and all of your programs, no?
Troubleshoot, repair, maintain, upgrade & secure...
If you have ERD Commander boot cd or on a USB pen drive and have the network drivers loaded to connect to the internet you could do a search for the offending driver then replace it from ERD Commander explorer, this works for about 80% of hardware failures.
If you have a piece of hardware that has failed you could use 'Safe Mode' to uninstall the hardware, then power the computer down, take the hardware out, then with the exception of a video card or hard drive that has the boot and OS, it you may be able to get by with out that device until you have a replacement.
As for testing the hardware you could rely on the built in POST codes and beep codes (you don't know what those are? [sigh, they are both on this
web site] ) or you can search around for some software that you can use to test hardware with, most testing programs are expensive and there are very few shareware or free versions.
To test memory and the processor get a benchmark program, there are some pretty good free ones, nice shareware ones (for less than $50 or so) and some really expensive ones.
Some better benchmark programs will test cd/dvd drives and do stress tests on your hard drives, this will give you an idea if the drive is working properly or is failing.
As for testing the video most newer video cards have a built in video test program, Windows 7 has one also. If your video card doesn't come with a test program then do a search for one, like the benchmark program there are all kinds. Be aware that
if you over drive the video card or the monitor you could physically damage them if the program you get is for DOS, the Windows/Linux programs will not allow you to test parameters out side of the limits set by the video card driver. (Have you ever seen the 'Out of Range' error?)
All other types of testing without an expensive software programs or real diagnostic hardware you could use the swap technique.
See the "Conventions" section of the
Computer Repair Unleashed 2nd Edition Manual for more
about the swap technique and tools.
The swap technique is where you have a device that may have failed but no way to test the actual device. But if you have another computer you could take the suspect device from the computer that it doesn't work in and put it in the other computer to test your suspicions. If it fails in two computers then you have a 99% chance that it is the actual part that has failed not a associated part or driver.
Note: Using the swap technique assumes you
do not have two of the same make and model computers with exactly the same parts.
If you swap out say a video card because the failed computer's monitor is blank (black) when the computer is started and the good computer does the same thing then the video card has failed.
If the video card tests good in another computer you have to do some more trouble shooting. Is it the cable from the monitor to the video port? Is it the monitor itself? (In this case connect the monitor to the other computer to test this theory). Or is it the motherboard?
You can do computer repair on a shoe string budget and have fairly good results but if you can afford to get the test software I would suggest you save yourself some heartburn rather than spending money for parts you don't need.
"Tools? We don't need any stinking tools!"
Ah, but grasshopper how are you going to open your computer and poke around
inside? Don't say a hammer because it is one also...
Anyone remember this saying: "Ethernet beats sneakernet!"