Sweatin’ with the Oldies

What a strange week! We had a manufacturing company hire us to build a (gulp!) DOS 6.22 laptop that had a 9-pin serial port to program a piece of equipment. We found the right laptop and a set of DOS disks and made it happen. By the way, DOS is so old that it can only format a hard drive to 2GB, so 58GB of the 60GB hard drive in the laptop is unusable.

Similarly, a stenographer had her XP laptop die, so we put Windows 7 32-bit onto a laptop and got it to work with her steno software. Her software was 15 years old but purchasing new software was over $6,000 and she is 6 months away from retiring. We saved her thousands of dollars! If you have a strange need or problem, please call us at 952-939-0174

– Keith Aleshire, Owner

The “Secret” Key to Fix All Computer Problems?

I had a customer come in today with a laptop that wouldn’t start Windows. He spent a couple of hours and tried everything, including a “factory reset.” Nothing worked. I did a free diagnosis and said it would be a couple of hours labor to save his files and reinstall Windows. He thought (like some people do) that there is a “secret key” I could press to make it magically work and fix itself. Sorry, there isn’t such a button. If you have tried everything for a couple of hours, then it must be serious. Maybe save yourself some time and come to us first. Please call us at 952-939-0174 or stop in anytime between 8am and 6pm Monday through Friday.
– Keith Aleshire, Owner

What is Your Time Worth?

What’s your time worth? We had a customer spend a half day talking to Comcast technical support to fix an e-mail glitch where he received e-mails a day late. After no solution with them, he hired me over the phone to take control of his computer remotely and try to fix the problem. Forty-five minutes later, it was solved for $140. To him, it was worth it, but he could have saved himself time and frustration to come to us first. If you are facing computer problems, please call us at 952-939-0174.
– Keith Aleshire, Owner

Leave Your Clutter to Us!

One of our customers moved to a new house recently and he tried to set up his computers himself. (He has a home-based business.) After losing his scanning abilities and other problems, he hired me to come out. Not only did his two computers sorely need a tune-up since we sold them to him in 2015, (we recommend an annual tuneup) he had several network and other issues. For example, the Comcast technician set up a duplicate wireless network that weakened the signal and caused confusion. Needless to say, it took 3 hours to tune up the 2 computers and fix these various problems. It might have cost less if he had hired us to set his computers up at the new place, but he was very happy how efficiently I worked. Call us at 952-939-0174 first before you try to tackle problems above your pay grade!
– Keith Aleshire, Owner

Cat and Mouse Games

Fixing a computer can be a “cat-and-mouse” game. We had a customer come in last week with a noisy laptop fan she believed was caused by her 4-year-old son hitting it. We took it apart and saw no damage. We tried everything: updated the BIOS, replaced the thermal grease, etc. Finally, on a hunch, we reinstalled Windows from scratch onto another drive. It solved the problem! The fan was quiet We transferred the customer’s files over to the drive and reinstalled some of their software programs for them. We have also seen mice and wireless cards quit working but work again once we reinstall Windows. Just another crazy day at Strike Twice Computers!

– Keith Aleshire, Owner

How Old is Your Hard Drive?

In under 2 years, Windows 7 will be discontinued by Microsoft. No more security updates, which means your computer will be very vulnerable to hackers. Many people upgraded to Windows 10 when it was free for a year. Windows 7 came out in 2009 and many people have had these computers for several years.

Any hard drive over 3 years old is at risk of failing. Lately, we have saved several failing hard drives. There were a couple we couldn’t save at all. We have been strong advocates of solid-state hard drives, or SSDs. These make an older computer faster and more reliable. Please call us at 952-939-0174 for prices and options. Thank you.
– Keith Aleshire, Owner

The Computer “Expert”

I went to a customer’s business yesterday to help with a mouse issue and computer not starting nor printing. I was told the new office manager was a “computer expert.” What I found was that the PS/2 mouse connector was damaged by this employee. The “expert” jammed it into the hole and maybe even twisted it. These six pins in the PS/2 mouse should be straight, not flattened like some UFO crop circle! Not only did I replace the mouse, but also fixed their printing problem (the cable was plugged in the wrong hole!). I tuned up the computer, and everything was well when I left. Leave your computer work to the real computer experts and save yourself frustration and extra costs. Please call us first at 952-939-0174.

Two is One and One is None

Navy Seals have a saying: “Two is one, and one is none.” This idea simply put means that having a spare of something is more important than having just one of that item. If you have just one and it fails, you have nothing.
For example, a customer contacted me this morning. His dog chewed on his USB flash drive and ruined it. Some critical data is on that drive that cannot be replaced. We may not be able to help him, and it may cost him $1,000-$2,000 to get his data back, if at all! It would have been better to put the data on his computer and then back it up to the flash drive that Fido then destroyed. Or have two flash drives and rotate them so you have at least one set of your data backed up.
I rotate two external hard drives that attach to my computer. I also back up my most critical files every night before I leave work. It takes 30 seconds. My business could burn down and I would be safe knowing that my accounting data and customer database is secure. I also have identical spare computers at my office so if one PC fails, I can move the hard drive to the spare. I am up and running in 5 minutes! Two is one, and one is none! Please call us at 952-939-0174 to let us help you set up a backup system.

Backup, Backup, Backup!

A business customer of ours got hit with a ransomware virus on Valentine’s Day.  It encrypted all of the files on his computer at 3 am in the morning so they were unusable the next day. The hackers wanted $3,000 in Bitcoin for the key to unlock his files. By the time he set up and funded a Bitcoin account (3 days) and wait for the key and files to decrypt (another 2 days), he’d be out of business. Also, he might not even get the key and he would want to flush his computer of any backdoors for the hackers. I got up there within an hour after their call and diagnosed the damage. The ransomware also encrypted all of the files on the external hard drive and on another computer that shared files with this computer. I provided a newer computer by the end of the day and got them up and running over the next 2 days. I recommend people have two or more external hard drives that you rotate and keep off site. Cloud-based backup is nice, but it is very slow to restore files over an Internet connection. By the way, we can clone your entire drive so you can get up and running sooner so you don’t have to install software programs and set up networking, e-mail, etc. Call us at 952-939-0174 for help with your backups.

What is Your Time Worth?

Today was a tale of two clients I helped today. One client had four newer desktop computers that we custom-built with top-notch parts, a 500GB solid-state hard drive, 16GB of memory, Windows 10, and Intel processors that would last them 5 years or more. The other customer was a woman who had a very slow Windows 7 computer with 4GB memory and a mechanical (not solid-state) hard drive.
I tuned up the four business computers in 2 hours (30 minutes per computer). The other customer’s slower computer took an hour and a half to tune up. We charge by the hour, so sometimes, a faster computer may pay for itself over time. Also, what is your time worth waiting for your computer to start up, your files to load, and your web pages to display?