Have you ever noticed that an experienced computer technician is hesitant to give a firm timeline when something might be complete? It’s based on years of experience that says unforeseen issues happen all the time. Computing is a vast and technical field where nothing remains the same. You may have two systems using the exact same hardware bought on the same day and after a week of operation they are very different machines.
This article is a 5 minute read with some techno-babble inserted here and there. It illustrates some of the painfully slow processes we and the client sometimes have to endure before finishing a service or repair. It also points out things that can be done to make servicing your equipment less frustrating.
- Get the fastest Internet service you can afford.
- Document everything associated with your software.
- Do not buy any computing device unless it has an SSD.
- Plan your network or re-engineer it properly.
- Backup, Backup, Backup.
Delays, delays and more delays
We have mentioned that in-shop or remote service is typically less expensive than on-site. The reason for this is that shop and remote service can be performed on multiple machines at once, reducing the service cost for all. When we are in the field and have to wait for something to complete, there is not much to do.
In some instances a required task will take hours. To reduce service time we will often initiate the task, leave to service other customers, then return to finish the job after the task is complete or remote in, if possible. We may also bring the computer into the shop and deliver it at a later time in an attempt to lessen the overall cost.
We thought it might be interesting to document some of the things that increase service time. For a while we documented some of the tasks that cause significant service delays and how to lessen those delays using good practices – starting with documentation.
Tips for faster service
- Keep good documentation including account information and passwords.
- Incredibly important.
- Check this out for a focused discussion on password management.
- For businesses, document vendor support numbers.
- Incredibly important.
- Again, check this out for a focused discussion on password management.
- Don’t let the computer products you use get too old, especially software. When programs are discontinued and you need to upgrade your programs AND import the data from the old program, the chances of success are greatly improved if the program you are upgrading from wasn’t created 20 years ago.
- Try to avoid hostile environments such as extreme cold, heat, dirt or vibration. If your device is ice cold from being outside, let it warm to room temperature before running or opening.
- Saves the hinges and their mounts along with and mechanical hard drives and DVD’s.
- Get the fastest Internet you can afford. Everything uses the Internet.
- Check out our Internet provider recommendations.
- Use an automated backup system
- Consider a remote access subscription where we can remote in and address issues as needed.
Next, we documented things that cause service times to be extended.
- Delays due to booting, starting, restarting, and shutting down.
- Delays due to intermittent failures where it’s hard to duplicate the issue.
- A good description of the problem is helpful.
- Waiting for parts.
- Our computers use standard components to lessen this issue.
- Parts that are no longer available. Have to ‘make do’ or be creative.
- Delays due to slow computers such as those running Celeron processors, 2 GB RAM, and\or 5400 RPM drives.
- Charging, draining, and testing batteries.
- Batteries that do not last long enough to finish the job and require the use of a currently unavailable, lost, or unique A/C adapter.
- Computer hardware originating from countries that are, shall we say, a bit sketchy. Common in manufacturing industries.
- For on-site service, there is travel time to get to the location of the computer needing service.
Computer operational delays
- Delays due to installing Windows updates.
- Installing, removing, updating, and upgrading programs. ‘Updating’ is typically minor updates where ‘upgrading’ is a major version change.
- Hard drive copying and duplicating.
- Moving thousands or millions of files somewhere else.
- Delays from resetting, refreshing, and restoring operating systems.
- This is a highly misunderstood concept.
- Check this article that explains things.
- Reloading or rebuilding the operating system from scratch, including drivers and programs.
- Again, this article talks about what the differences are.
- Backing up and restoring the entire computer.
- Assuming a backup of the computer was made and how thorough it is.
- Waiting for software patches, upgrades, or updates to be issued to fix problems.
- Recovering computers from scammers or an encryption attack.
- Working on a device that’s in use. It’s like working on a car while it’s traveling on a highway. A common issue when servicing servers.
Computer maintenance delays
- Delays due to running system file checker, drive cleanup and disk integrity checks.
- Running Defrag or Optimize. ( We typically only do this in-shop )
- Scanning for or tracking down infections and junk software.
- Running programs that require scanning and modifying the internals of Windows.
- Compressing or decompressing files and data.
- Endlessly testing software and hardware.
Delays due to missing documentation
- Delays due to no documentation about accounts or programs.
- Activation or registration numbers missing.
- Documentation in a language we do not speak. Common in industry.
- No documentation for passwords, emails, account numbers, secret questions and answers.
- Delays due to the need to break into accounts with forgotten passwords. Contrary to what the movies, tv and “cyber” experts claim, it can take quite a bit of time breaking into accounts with forgotten or non-working passwords, answers to secret questions, etc. We have to do this weekly and it consumes hours of time. There are several cases a year where it can’t be done and the account is abandoned.
- We have more in-depth articles about passwords and hacking if you are so inclined. It’s critical to document all credential information thoroughly and clearly. NO POST-IT NOTES HANGING ON THE COMPUTER. After a while, post-it notes lose their grip and disappear forever.
Vendor Related Delays
- Delays due to the inevitable back and forth with a client’s vendor waiting for callbacks or never getting the callback.
- Not being able to contact a vendor’s tech support in the first place.
- Needing information about a customer’s installation from the vendor but they are unwilling or unable to offer it.
- A vendor swooping into a business and changing the infrastructure in order to make their stuff work but breaking it for everything else, then leaving.
- A vendors data restore function that does not work, partially works, never worked, or doesn’t exist.
- Delays due to slow or unstable internet service.
- Big downloads and uploads on a slow service.
- A clients “web guy” changing their domain setup and now nothing works or holding the client’s domain name hostage by demanding payment for problems they caused. That was unpleasant.
- Downloading or uploading 10’s of thousands of emails on a slow Internet connection.
- Check this out regarding the various Internet services you may encounter.
System storage failure delays
- Delays from recovering data from a failed or failing hard drive.
- This is a big one.
- Restoring from backups, if they exist, or recovering data when no backups were done.
- Installing, creating, testing, and configuring backup systems.
- They must be fully tested!!
- Delays due to intermittent failures. This is a major issue.
- No support for a program created by someone who is no longer alive or simply doesn’t care anymore.
- Lost installation media, such as a CD, for a vendor that’s out of business.
- Lost key numbers, registration, or account information.
- Waiting for software to be built, patched, or updated to fix issues.