So your computer needs a repair. You’re thinking about taking it to a professional for help. Before that, here are some things you should do before taking it to a repair shop. To make things easier for both you and the repair technicians, you can first start with resolving any software issues by yourself. Then, you can start looking at any possible computer hardware issues that you might have. By being prepared before taking your computer to a repair show, you might be able to save yourself some money and reduce turnaround time.
1. Restart your computer
There’s a reason that IT technicians ask the question “have you tried turning it on and off again?” all the time. And there’s a good reason that you shouldn’t get annoyed by it either. Restarting your laptop or desktop computer can help refresh your system and possibly solve a number of bugs. The process unclogs stored cache on your RAM, and this can allow things to run smoother than before.
So before you do anything to your computer, try restarting it and see whether the problem goes away. After this, you can try running some simple diagnostics to find out what might be wrong in your computer.
2. Check for system updates
Another thing that could solve software issues is by updating your drivers and operating system. Manufacturers make changes to their software and OS by collecting error and incompatibility reports from users to fix them. These updates could be useful for fixing certain software issues that you may be experiencing.
Simply get your Mac or Windows computer to check for updates, or set up automatic scans for updates. Your computer will do all the work for you from there. As long as you have an internet connection, you should be able to download and install software and driver updates.
3. Back up your data
Important data should be backed up regularly, even when the computer is working fine. Disaster could strike at any moment, and it can be helpful to be prepared beforehand. Of course, you can still do this before you take your faulty computer for a repair.
If your laptop or desktop computer still turns on, you should be able to quickly back up essential data with File History or Time Machine for Mac users. Or just simply drag and drop files that you need to keep onto an external hard drive. It will come in handy when your computer is in the shop.
Alternatively, you can also use online cloud-based storage services like Google Drive or Dropbox. We also recommend multiple backups both online and offline. This gets you an extra level of security. Read about data backup in our guide “Why you should be backing up your data“.
4. Reset your system
Another way to solve software issues is by resetting your system. You can try reinstalling your OS, factory resetting your computer, or running SMC or PRAM reset on a Mac computer.
Your computer might be stuck on some unknown software issue that can be hard to figure out. Resetting your computer and giving it a clean slate could solve the problem can give you something to start anew.
Resetting a Windows computer
To reset a Windows computer, hold F8 or F11 at startup to reach the “Advanced startup options” menu. You can choose to reset the computer, or use a bootable USB to reinstall Windows OS.
Resetting an Apple Mac computer
You can choose to reinstall MacOS from MacOS Utilities. Hold down Command + R until the MacOS Recovery screen appears. Then you can choose “Reinstall MacOS”.
The system management controller is a part of the logic board that controls settings related to battery and charging, the fan, and other startup settings. To perform an SMC reset, hold down Shift + Control + Option + Power button at boot for 10 seconds.
PRAM / NVRAM Reset
Similar to the SMC, this part of the Mac is responsible for storing Mac system settings and startup information. Hold down Option + Command + P + R for 20 seconds at boot to reset the PRAM and NVRAM.
At this point, we should be able to weed out some software issues that might be bugging your computer. Now would be a good time to check whether you have hardware issues that need tending to.
5. Troubleshoot and diagnose your computer
Sometimes a reset or software fixes can make your computer seemingly back to normal, but a quick diagnostic test could also be helpful. You may be able to find issues that you could possibly fix yourself, or get a better understanding on what needs to be fixed.
Pre-boot diagnostics, or Apple Diagnostics for Mac users can help you run tests on components across your device. It is a simple built-in diagnostic tool to help you find possible hardware errors on parts like your hard drive, RAM, or battery card.
Each brand of computer usually has a specific key to enter boot diagnostics. For Dell it’s F12, “Esc” for HP, and “D” for Apple, just to name a few. After running the tests, your system should also be able to give you reference codes and recommend fixes for any problems found.
Contacting online support could also be a great option if you need more guidance on this. Many computer brands offer free technical support over the phone or through online chat. They can instruct you over the phone to do basic diagnostics to determine the fault, and the next steps you can take. The wait on the phone and the whole process may be long, but it’s free, so it’s probably worth a try.
6. Check your warranty and insurance cover
Nothing is better than a free fix. Getting the computer opened up by a third party repairer while it’s still under warranty may void your warranty cover. Always check with your place of purchase to see if it’s covered by warranty before even taking it to a shop for repairs. You might also want to check your additional support cover, to make sure that you’re not missing out on a free repair.
For insured devices, your insurer may cover your repairs but they will usually need a damage report first. You can get this from a technician after they’ve checked out your computer. It may cost to get a damage report so be prepared to pay for one.
7. Get a free quote for computer repairs
Not all repair services will give free quotes, many charge a fee to diagnose the computer and give a quote before doing anything. It’s worth calling around or doing some research to find one that would give a free quote if you’re not willing to pay for one. We offer free quotes if the computer is brought to our store (T&C applies).
Getting a repair without a free quote beforehand may not be worth it, as you don’t have a clear idea of what needs to be done and how it’ll end up. So it’s much safer to choose a trusted repair service, via reviews on Google.
8. For liquid spill damage: turn the laptop upside down and remove the battery
If liquids get inside the laptop, there isn’t much you can do except put it upside down and remove the battery. This helps to drain out the liquid as much as possible, and protect yourself from electrical hazards.
Many laptops have user-replaceable batteries, which can be easily removed from the computer. Many newer models have non user-replaceable batteries so users can’t do much with it except putting it upside down.
Putting the laptop in rice or using a hair dryer to dry it is not recommended. Using a hairdryer can melt the keyboard or other parts which creates a bigger problem. Rice won’t help to undo what is already damaged and it can also get into the fan. This causes issues with the fan instead. Learn more about the dos and don’ts of laptop liquid spill damage in our guide here.
A few reminders
Keep your software license keys
There’s a chance that your data can be wiped out during the repair process. That’s why data backups are so important. You should also make sure you still have the necessary license or login information to reinstall software that you use. This might be productivity apps like Microsoft Office or Adobe Creative Suite that require a license key to download and install. That way you won’t have to buy another subscription if you lose all your data.
Make your computer accessible
Repair technicians will usually need your password login to check your computer and make sure the repair is successful. So making your laptop or desktop computer accessible could make things run a lot smoother. Consider removing your password or changing it to a simple one, then sticking it on your device.
Ask for a rental laptop if possible
Repair services can usually offer rental laptops to use while your computer is being serviced. If you don’t have a spare laptop to use, it wouldn’t hurt to ask for a rental laptop.
Expert repairs with us
Looking for a trusted computer repair service? With our highly-rated service and 10-year experience in computers, Safemode Computer Service is here to help. We offer free quotes and diagnostics for any computer issue. Just bring your computer to our Inner West store and we can diagnose your laptop or desktop computer in no time. We are conveniently located in the Inner West Sydney suburb of Enmore, close by to Newtown and Marrickville. Bring in your computer for a repair and purchase an external hard drive, we can set up your backups free of charge. Call us or book an appointment online today!