Tech Tips

Choosing a computer repair company

Get a A Referral

The very best chance you have of choosing a great local computer repair company is if you're referred to one, ideally by several individuals who you trust. If many people had a great experience with one particular computer repair company, the chance of you receiving similar service is very good.

Use the search facility and find those who have great reviews from independent review sites. 

Check Them Out

Call them, browse their website, visit their shop if they have one. Pay attention to other customers who are dropping off or picking up their repaired computers. Are they happy or are they doing a lot of complaining?  Observe the computer repair technicians - do they seem knowledgeable, professional and helpful? Is the queue being dealt with in a polite and efficient manner? If not, go elsewhere.

Get a Quote

If available get a quote, ideally in writing before agreeing to any work. This way, everyone knows where they stand. It is common practice to charge a fee for a quote where a physical assessment of your computer  is required, refundable if you decide to go ahead with having your computer repaired.

Save time. Get a quote from a local repairer.

 If it's Too Good to Be True...

Everyone needs to make a living. If you call 3 repairers and get one quote which is half the price of the others, the likelihood is that the company will not be around to help you when the your 'repaired' computer fails again in a week. 

Pricing varies by area and exact service. For example you should for example expect to pay more for a home or office visit to have your computer repaired, than when you drop it off at a shop.

Search for a reliable computer repairer in your area.

Tech Tips

Laptop or Tablet?

Two of the main contenders in the computer market are the tablet and the laptop. Which of these should you buy? In short, it depends on what you need the computer for. 

The Laptop

The design of laptops has improved dramatically in recent years, and they have become lighter and of far higher performance. There are many different kinds of laptops including the full-size laptop, the netbook, the rugged laptop, the sub-notebook, the desktop replacement laptop, and so on. For ease of understanding, here we will talk about the most popular kind, which is the full size laptop. This is defined as a portable personal computer that is large enough to possess a full, traditional QWERTY keyboard.  

The Tablet

A tablet computer is a mobile computer that is larger than a mobile phone or personal digital assistant, but is significantly smaller and lighter than a laptop computer. Tablet computers use touchscreen displays, and inputs are performed by tapping on this,  rather than through a physical keyboard or mouse.

Tablets have only become popular in recent years, especially once the Apple iPad was released in 2010. There are two distinct types of tablets. The traditional tablet PCs that run on desktop-based operating systems, such as Windows and the post-PC tablets that use operating systems that are derived from those originally written for mobile devices. 

Pros and Cons 

While laptops may not be the latest gadget, they do have several advantages over tablets. Laptops are still the best choice if the buyer is purchasing a computer for work or business purposes, as they can handle a larger amount of processing without compromising performance.

Laptops far outperform tablets when the user needs to multitask. It’s so much easier to use different applications at once on a laptop than it is on a tablet. Laptops are more suited for heavy internet use than tablets. The majority of sites run much more quickly and sometimes offer enhanced functionality. 

Other advantages include:

  • Laptops offer far more data storage capability than a tablet.
  • Laptops have a larger display than tablets, making viewing much more comfortable and enjoyable.
  • Touch input can get troublesome especially when the user needs to key in a lot of data. 
  • Laptops are more durable. There is no sensitive touch display to damage and the overall build is tougher.

Laptops also have several disadvantages when compared to tablets, including:

  • Laptops are bigger and heavier than tablets, making them quite difficult to carry around for long periods of time.
  • Tablets offer greater battery life
  • Certain software works better with a tablet’s touch input

Deciding Whether to Buy a Laptop or Tablet

Essentially, it depends what you want to do with your device. If you are likely to use it for spreadsheets, writing large documents or sending 300 emails in a day, then a laptop is likely to suit you best. However, if you want to simply play games, answer the odd email and surf the internet while on the move, then a tablet is probably the best option. There are also hybrid devices available which combine the best of both worlds.

To help you decide Visit your local independent computer store for advice and try out a couple of different devices.

Protect your kids while they are online

Tech Tips

Protect your kids online

I have been running a small IT company for over 10 years. In the last 6 months I have been asked this question more than in the previous 9 1/2 years put together. Why? 

The reason, I think, is articles such as these:

As a parent who wouldn't be worried? I know I am, and my kids are still young enough to be easily supervised. 

What are the issues?

There are 3 main issues related to young people accessing the internet. The first is that they will, either unknowingly or intentionally access 'innapropriate content' such as pornography, gambling or violent imagery.

The second is bullying via social networks, usually by peers.

The third is 'grooming' by older people via social networks and instant messaging.

What to do about it

As with 'offline' activities younger children are relatively easy to keep safe. It is not unreasonable to only allow under 10's only supervised access to a shared family computer. Although with schools increasingly asking even junior school pupils to complete homework etc online, this can be easier said than done....  

Software such as cyberpatrol can be set to allow access only to a limited number of sites, such as the learning platform at your childs school and other designated sites. The amount of sites that your child can access can be varied depending upon their age and maturity. The software can also enable monitoring of all computer activity and you can limit the times that the machine can be used. 

With older children the situation is more complex. It is tempting to try and monitor and control everything your teenagers do online but this can cause more problems than it solves.  For one thing, there is no software or service that can provide 100% protection, especially if your teenager is putting their considerable energy and resourcefulness into avoiding them. 

In addition, a 7 year old has no real right to privacy, but it can be argued that a 16 year old certainly does. Would you follow them when they go out and open their post?  

This is a complex issue but the closest I have come to an answer is two fold. Educate them and educate yourself.

Place a computer in a shared area of the house and most importantly take an active interest in what they are doing. Software can help - but you will have to think carefully about what the rules should be.

Take an active interest in what they are doing.

Kids often know, almost instinctively, what is inappropriate behaviour. The problem is that they either dont feel confident to tell someone about it, or they feel they will be punished in some way if they talk about it. As in any other aspect of their lives, promoting good communication is key. 

Here's some useful information about this complex issue from CEOP

Ask your local computer expert for advice regarding the numerous parental control and filtering tools available.