This wiki is part of a series of Manuals For Computer Refurbishers.
- Most Microsoft Registered Refurbishers offer a warranty on hardware and installed software.
- We will discuss the steps to take with the:
- diagnosis of the problem
- options for repair
- training to prevent repeated errors
- If the system has recently been given to the client and the keyboard isn’t working, the most likely problem is that the client has plugged in the keyboard and the mouse into the wrong PS/2 connections. We tell them they must first turn off the computer and then swap the keyboard and mouse connections before rebooting. A few extra minutes of explanation when giving out the systems can save time in the future.
Diagnosis of the problem
- Ask the client what is wrong. Why do they need help? Have they done something different recently, such as allowing a friend to use the computer? Have they tried to load a new program? Did they delete any files? They will often give you an idea that may lead you to check in a certain direction.
- Make certain the computer is plugged in properly. When the computer is first installed or moved, the keyboard and mouse may be plugged in the wrong connector. If there is more than one video adapter, the video may be attached to the disabled adapter.
- Check to see if the computer has power. Does it boot up?
- Check the BIOS. Sometimes children or adventurous adults will change the BIOS settings.
- Are the time and date settings correct? An incorrect time and date may indicate a bad on-board battery.
- Can you boot to the operating system?
- If you discover problems you may be able to use the System Restore feature to recover the Original Install restore point.
- If the BIOS doesn’t allow you to correct the date or if the computer does not boot to the operating system you may want to boot with a “live CD” in the CD drive. An excellent tool that you can create is Bart’s mini PE. Use a search engine to download the instructions and learn how to create the CD or DVD. This can be a great tool for the diagnostics and repair of systems unable to boot normally.
Bart's mini PE
- Mini PE is loaded into the memory of the computer and allows you to access the computer. Correct the time and date if necessary (after testing the onboard battery and replacing it if needed).
- Still in mini PE, update the anti-virus program and run it to see if viruses have caused the problems.
- If the computer has not been infected and the repairs haven’t worked, discuss the available solutions with the client. If the computer can be booted but the operating system is not working correctly, the OS will need to be reinstalled and all of the documents and photos may be lost.
- If the operating system will need to be reinstalled, does the client have important documents or photographs on the computer?
- Bart’s mini PE can transfer important files to an external drive to be reloaded later.
- Another option is to run the anti-virus on the drive and keep it as a secondary drive in the computer. You may want to charge the client for an extra drive where you will install the operating system and programs. If you use the cloning procedures discussed in loading software, this should not take long.
- You may want to offer the client the option to upgrade to another, newer, already set-up computer for a small fee so they won’t have to wait for the repairs.
- If the hard drive is physically damaged there may be no options other than to replace it.
Problems with adapters
- Video—no picture: make sure there isn’t an extra video card installed and that you are plugged into the wrong adapter. Try installing another tested video card. Check the memory as a memory problem can cause a video conflict.
- Go to the device manager by right-clicking on My Computer and going to Properties > Hardware > Device Manager. See if there are any yellow flags on the hardware indicating that the device is not working properly or needs new drivers. Make repairs or disable devices that are not needed. Click on the + to expand the list.
- Sound—no sound: make sure the external speakers are plugged into the correct audio out jack (usually green color) or that the audio isn’t muted in the software. Check to be sure there is an audio cable between the CD drive and audio cards and the DVD drive and the audio card.
- Ethernet: Check the BIOS to be sure that the network is enabled. Do you see the lights flashing on the back of the adapter indicating that it is connected to your network? If you don’t see flashing lights, or yellow flags in the Device Manager, replace the card if you are sure your network is up.
Problems with CD and DVD drives
- CD and DVD drives: Use test media to check out the drives. Do the drives show up in My Computer? Can you press the eject button and have the disk drive open? If the drive won’t open, use a straightened paper clip and insert it into the tiny opening on the front of the drive. It may have a jammed CD or something else stuck inside. If the tray doesn’t open smoothly, replace the drive. Be sure to use the correct screws when working with CD and DVD drives. They don’t use the same size as hard drives and the case. If you use the larger threaded screws, you can damage the drive.
- If the drives don’t show up in My Computers, either the power cable may not be connected, the IDE cable may not be attached properly or the drive may be bad. You can test the drive in another computer.
- Keep a Read/Write disk to test Read/Write drives. Keep a video on hand to test DVD players.
- Check the jumpers on the drives. Master/slave settings must be configured properly on the IDE cables. The IDE ribbon cables do fail from time to time. Don’t throw out a drive when it may be a problem with the cable.
- First, update and run the anti-virus program. Many problems are caused by disabling or not using anti-virus programs. If the problems can be repaired, discus with the client the benefits of updating the definitions at least weekly and giving the computer a full scan on a regular basis.
- Pop-Ups and unwanted processes: Go to Settings > Control Panel > Add/Remove Programs and look at the list of installed programs. With experience you see will programs that are not on the original list of installed programs. Discuss with the client if they need the added programs and uninstall them if you can with the client’s permission.
- Discuss good Internet browsing techniques with the client. Certain web sites or “free” screensavers can introduce viruses. Don’t open attachments or executable programs attached to email for instance. Use this time to instruct the client as to best practices so that won’t need to come back.
- If the computer is running very slowly, programs may be running in the background. Press Ctrl-Alt-Del keys at the same time and start the Task Manager. Find out what Applications are running. Is something running that shouldn’t be? Also check out Processes and see what is running that is taking up the processor’s resources.
- Generally, we don’t want to spend a lot of time on repairs. We prefer to back-up the client’s documents and reload the drive using cloning or Sysprep.