Ask a technician: How long does a computer repair take?

Every computer user these days is bound to experience at least one computer error in their lifetime. Laptop and desktop computers can last very long, but once one part fails, the rest of the computer may not work at all. With these problems, you may have sent in your laptop or desktop computer for repair.

While most people may be capable of using different types of technology, they may know little about PC hardware issues and repair. With this, questions about how soon the repair can be done or whether they can rush the process are often asked.

Depending on the faulty part that needs tending to, your computer repair duration can vary. The type of repair may be more challenging to do, or the problem may take time to detect and diagnose. Understanding the process of PC repair can be helpful to ease your mind over how long your computer is going to be away from you. We’re going to look at the average repair process of a computer, and the different things that affect the time to complete a repair.

Our computer repair process

Computer repair is certainly more than just taking things apart and screwing things together. Together with those tools, we also make use of spare parts and components for testing and repair. This process involves a lot of diagnostic tests, and of course, a lot of waiting around for those tests to finish. We test parts of the computer before and after fixing it, and get the right replacement parts for it as well.

1. Testing before repair

Diagnosing a laptop

For a reliable fix, multiple tests are required to ensure the problem is properly eliminated. These multiple tests also help to detect and fix intermittent problems that only one test might not find.

We perform initial tests on problem areas that are reported to us. Usually from experience, we are able to narrow down the faulty part and focus on that. For example, if the laptop is completely dead, it could be a motherboard issue, or a hard drive issue if the user is experiencing boot up issues.

Then we can start running more extensive tests to diagnose the problem. This involves taking out the said part and testing it on a separate desktop computer with hardware analysis software. By doing so, we can eliminate other factors that can affect the diagnosis of the hardware. In some situations, we also switch out faulty parts with working spare parts to confirm the problem by method of elimination. Learn how to test for hard drive or motherboard issues in our guides to hard drive faults and motherboard failures.

2. Data backup

Repairs that involve storage drives would call for backing up data or data recovery. When we install a new drive, backing up data to an external hard drive is something that can take quite a while as well. This applies to repairs related to hard drive failure, liquid spill damage, or SSD upgrades.

Before we reinstall the OS on the new drive, backing up data would be required to make sure files can be retained and used again. Sometimes data backup and OS installation is also required in certain motherboard repairs. Copying data across storage devices takes time, and could take longer if data recovery is required on the drive. Data recovery repair is something we can also do to help you get your data back, but there’s no guarantee that all data can be recovered from the faulty drive.

3. Getting parts that need replacing

After diagnosing the problem, getting the right replacement solution is the next step to a working computer again. While some diagnostic software can sometimes fix the reported problem, a more reliable and long-lasting solution might just be a replacement. For example, bad sectors on hard drives can be repaired or isolated by software, but its eventual failure is still looming. Getting the drive replaced could promise you long-lasting performance over a quick fix that might only get you a few more months on the drive.

Replacement parts are then ordered online, according to the right part number. Different models of laptops and desktop computers will require only compatible replacement parts. We can usually find these by their matching part numbers, or by inspecting for identical ones when their part numbers are not available. If the exact model is not available, we’ll have to find other compatible alternatives. Luckily, we’re pretty well-versed in looking for the right replacement parts and suppliers are generally quite helpful as well.

4. Fixing and replacing faulty parts

Motherboard of desktop computer

Depending on the type of repair, we determine the right repair solution for the device. Some repairs like hard drive replacements or SSD upgrades can be done pretty quickly.

But for some more delicate parts of a laptop like the motherboard or the screen, replacing them takes more careful consideration and time. Screen replacements involve taking the faulty screen out of the laptop and assembling everything back together. For motherboard repairs, other components will have to be taken out and connected again after the motherboard is replaced.

After installing new hardware, we have to make sure the computer now works properly. Repairs that involve boot drives would also need new OS installations. Then we can move on to more tests to make sure the repair was successful.

5. Testing after repair

After installing new parts and replacements, the computer may work just fine. But by running final extensive tests, we can find errors that we have missed or that the repair wasn’t successful. This way we can make sure that intermittent problems won’t happen again. If the computer passes these final tests, then we’re done!

Things that affect how long it takes to repair a computer

Diagnostic test duration

To make sure problems are detected and fixed properly, we run multiple tests before and after the computer is repaired. This ensures the proper repair of failures and even intermittent issues that aren’t always apparent.

Due to their in depth testing process, these tests do take a long time to complete. Say we’re testing for RAM issues. Each test can run up to 30 minutes.

Other tests like hard drive diagnostics can run overnight, and cannot be attended to the whole time. Every so often the test can pause on its own while it is unattended, and will have to start again when we get to it. It is with these extensive tests that we can deliver the right result.

Part accessibility and delivery

Getting replacement parts can sometimes be harder for certain computer models. This depends on how accessible they are to find from a supplier, and its compatibility with different models.

Branded parts from HP, Apple, or Dell have universal part numbers that are available from a public lookup system. They also offer other compatible alternatives and comparisons depending on the model of computer. This offers a more streamlined ordering process from a hardware supplier.

Apple, being the most popular brands for computers, also have the most spare parts available. Hence, repairs on Apple computers can be faster too.

However, with brands like Acer, Asus, and Toshiba don’t have a universal part number lookup system. Components can’t be found via a singular part number, so they need some digging to find the right one. To find the right part to order, we can only find the matching part by inspecting it visually. This takes an expert technician to do so.

For branded components that are out of market or supply, we try to find the best compatible alternative as a replacement. Not every type of replacement part can be used for every model of computer, even if it is from the same brand. For instance, we have to match the frequency of RAM chips to make sure that it is the right one. A 1333 mHz RAM can’t be used in place of a 1066 mHz RAM. With our experience and a little bit of patience, the right replacement part can definitely be found.

Delivery of replacement parts can take time too, like most things that you order online. Normally they can take 2-5 business days to arrive, or 1-2 business days by express delivery. We also take delays and the delivery of faulty or wrong parts into account.

Repairability of certain computer models

Hard drive repair

Newer models these days are made more and more fancier and sleeker. This slim design in turn gives the computer lower repairability that does not benefit the consumer. It certainly does not make things easier for the repair technician.

These slim designs often glue things together instead of using screws for assembly. It takes more time to take things apart for replacement. For screen repairs on certain computer models like the iMac, its screen is glued on the aluminum casing. It would need a lot more care and effort to take out the screen for a replacement.

Other parts like the butterfly keyboard on Apple Macbook Air and Macbook Pro laptops is also a challenging repair to perform. Replacing the keyboard involves other delicate parts of the Macbook, including the logic board. These slimmer advanced designs may make for a better computing experience for the user, but when it breaks, it can take a while to fix.

Data backup

Data backup and restoration to a new drive can take a while due to the size of files and the connecting interface used to transfer data. Hard drives make use of the SATA interface to transfer data, and most data transfer devices or cables make use of a SATA to USB connection.

The USB interface, while being the most available option, drops the transfer rate significantly, compared to a SATA connection. Transfer speeds for SATA is up to 6GB/s, with USB clocking in at 480MB/s. The type of connection can greatly affect the time spent backing up and restoring data on a hard drive.

Human errors

We may pride ourselves in being experts in the field, but we might still make mistakes. We’re only human, after all. Improper installations or the wrong type of repair can happen, and they may take a little bit more time to correct. With more difficult repairs, breaking something else while fixing something can also happen. At times, we may also be provided with the wrong password for the computer and are unable to complete the job until it is corrected.

Our turnaround time for most computer repairs is 1-7 business days (not including weekends), and may take longer if data recovery is needed. With this expected time frame, we always allow time to cover for mistakes or delays in delivery or repair completion. There are often multiple jobs at the same time and we cannot promise urgent repair orders.

Things to keep in mind when taking your computer to a repair service

Always have a backup

Whether or not your laptop or desktop computer is failing, it’s always a good idea to have a backup of your storage drive. This can either be on an external hard drive or on a cloud-based storage service. Actually, the more backups the better. You never know when your computer may crash and lose all your data, so having a backup of your files can help keep them safe from a tragedy. It can also save you the time and money that data recovery processes often need.

Keep original software licenses and installation media

Regular backups can keep your files safe and readily available, but software installed on your system will probably be wiped if your system crashes. To keep a “backup” of your software, it’s best you keep the original software licenses, manuals, and installation CDs that come with the software purchase. This ensures that you can install the software again if your OS has been reinstalled or if you’ve installed a new drive.

You can ask for a rental computer

Not having your computer for a few days can be unbearable, especially if you use it for work or entertainment. If you don’t have a spare computer to use while your main one is getting serviced, you may ask us for a rental computer to use in the meantime.

laptop user

Got a question for us?

Safemode Computer Service has served the Inner West for many years now, with our highly rated repair services around Sydney. We can help with any computer problem and repairs that you may have. Call us today or come by our Enmore store for expert advice and solutions to your computer problems. We are always happy to help!