Frequently Asked Questions (Part 3)
Q: Should I leave my computer on 24/7, or shut it down every night?
A: There are basically two types of wear and tear your computer can endure. One is caused by leaving it on, called semiconductor tunneling, which is caused by a constant stream of electricity flowing through its internal components. The other is caused by expansion and contraction as a result of the computer heating up and cooling down when you turn it on and off. The latter creates cold solder joints (where parts come disconnected from each other) and the former causes the internal components to stop working. While it seems like you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place, I can tell you from experience that failures caused by turning it off and on all the time tend to happen sooner than the kind caused by just leaving it on 24/7. We leave our machines on all the time, and only reboot for software updates. That way the computers remain a constant temperature, but the software running on them still has a chance to refresh (via a reboot) every once in a while. The only exception would be a work laptop that we bring with us as we travel.
Q: Should I buy extended warranties on computers?
A: The short answer is that the main person an extended warranty benefits is the retailer selling it to you! Do you really think a company would try so hard to sell you their warranty if it wasn’t a huge profit center for them? Computers have become so commoditized in recent years that they are extremely easy (and cheap) to repair in most cases (although laptops can be another story.) They also haven’t changed much in the last 5 years or so. Because of those two reasons, we almost always recommend customers just by refurbished computers instead of brand new ones. You’ll pay about 1/3 to 1/2 the price of new equipment, and if you really want a warranty, you can always get one from Squaretrade.com. In most cases, however, a used machine will last about as long as a new one would anyway (because you can buy a higher quality refurb for less than a consumer-grade brand new unit.) If you would like to know how to save money on a replacement computer, feel free to contact us and we will be happy to show you exactly what’s available 🙂
Q: What should I do with a computer when I first buy it?
A: If you’ve ever bought a shiny new computer from a retailer like Best Buy, you may have noticed a couple things; the store will most likely try to upsell you on some kind of “optimization service” they offer before you take it home, and if you don’t do it, you may have noticed that your brand new computer runs about as slow as your old one it was replacing! First of all, it’s not a grand conspiracy on the part of the retailer trying to sell their highly profitable service (although it didn’t take them long to catch on to the opportunity here.) Actually, the computer manufacturer is more to blame. You see, the price of those cheap computers you buy at a store is subsidized by software companies that pay Dell, HP, and the like to pre-install their software on their computers at the factory. Antivirus companies like McAfee and Symantec are the most notorious ones. They give you like a 90 day trial of their software, then make you pay for it to keep using it (and you should never pay money for antivirus, by the way.) Since they know some of the people that buy those computers will purchase their software, they are perfectly willing to pay the manufacturers, who are happy to take their money so they can lower the price of the computer and have a competitive edge in the market. Since they do this with a lot of software companies, as you can imagine there is a lot of what we call “crapware” on new computers you buy from a store, which makes them run like crap even when they are brand new. As a result of this, we recommend one of two things when you buy a new machine. You can use a special program called “The PC Decrapifier” (it’s a free program you can Google for and download) that will remove most of the crapware that comes from the factory, or you can have someone like us reload the Operating System (most places charge a flat rate for it), which is what any computer geek would do if we bought a new computer, because that is the only way to know you are starting with a clean slate.