Computer Repairs: DIY or Hire a Pro?
If your computer flashes that gray screen and won't boot up, chances are your first response is absolute panic. Hopefully you've backed everything up, so even if the situation is dire you won't lose all your precious files, photos and music. But if smaller glitches appear, you might be thinking about trying to tackle them yourself. Unless you graduated with a computer science degree, there are probably some repairs that are well outside your range of skills. But with the massive amount of information now at your fingertips online, it can be tempting to try and handle the situation without ringing up an expensive repair bill through a professional. So how do you know when you can attempt to do-it-yourself, and when it is better to go right to the pros?
If finances are tight, you may feel it is necessary to tackle the repairs yourself, even if they are complicated. Seeing that gray screen or the question mark where your mouse arrow should be doesn't necessarily mean the repairs are beyond you. If you take the time to study up, you can often find your specific problem completely detailed on a computer blog, including what you can do to fix it. If you feel you're up to the challenge, there's no reason not to give it a shot. After all, you can always go to the professional repair shop if things don't work out. Just make sure all of your information is backed up on an external hard drive or cloud storage system before you dig in. Since you're not trained, you may accidentally delete irreplaceable stuff, and that info can be more valuable than the computer itself. But as long as your computer's content is covered, feel free to give it a shot.
However, there is also a valid argument to be made to go straight to the repair shop. First off, if you're not particularly adept with technology, chances are you'll simply make the problems worse. You also may not have time in your schedule to handle the research necessary to do the job right with everything else you have going on. And it might be preferable to sit back and enjoy the simple peace of mind of knowing your precious device is in trained hands. Whatever the reasons you choose to go with a pro, you'll also reap the benefits of a number of guarantees.
First off, the vast majority of computer repair professionals will help you back up your data before they go in to make the repairs. This can be really helpful if you've never gone through the process before, and are concerned about screwing something up. Some computers may also be so damaged that you can't get them to boot up. In those cases, you simply won't be able to get to the information yourself. Most repair techs will be able to access the computer's hard drive and extract your information, even if the rest of the computer is ready for the dumpster.
Repair pros will certainly charge you what the job is worth, but respected and well-established repair shops also will offer you guaranteed pricing. They often bill by the hour, and can give you an estimate of the repair time after a small diagnostic fee. They'll give you a quote, just like with car repairs, and you can hold them to that price. On top of the guaranteed price, most repair techs also guarantee the job. If they replace something and that part malfunctions, they'll usually replace it free of charge. Pair that with the warranty you'll receive on new parts professionally installed, and going with a professional could save you money further down the road.