Job as a PC technician

  danabrey 20:23 10 Aug 2013

Hi all

I do hope I'm posting this in an ok-ish place. I'm hoping to get the advice of some PC techies so thinking they might hang around here!

I have no working experience with PC or laptop repair, but have tinkered a SMALL amount in my own time, and often fix others' software issues. I applied for a job the other day as a PC technician with training provided as I would like to get involved in the industry and enjoy the little bits of PC help I give to friends etc.

As it happens, the job is at a small shop and the only currently employed technician is leaving next week, but I've been offered the job even though I've been completely honest about my lack of experience. They are looking for someone else as well, but in the meantime i will be mostly left to my own devices to learn via Google and just going for it and crossing my fingers, which is both exciting and bewildering in equal measure.

What I'm asking for is a little advice on what to read first, really. Does anyone have any links for bibles for basic PC and laptop repair and well written tutorials and explanations?

I'd be grateful for any advice and apologies if this isn't the kind of help I'm meant to be asking for!

  Mr Mistoffelees 20:44 10 Aug 2013

No disrespect to yourself intended but, it seems very odd that they would entrust all their repair work to a self-confessed novice working on his own.

  danabrey 20:48 10 Aug 2013

I agree entirely. I assume that any complicated work will be turned down until there is someone more experienced working alongside me and it will mainly be simple laptop screen replacements, virus issues and the like. It does worry me that the business may not be run professionally but the shop has been there with the same owner for 12+ years so I am unsure what to think.

  Graphicool1 21:42 10 Aug 2013

I have a friend who owns and runs a PC repair shop. Initially, he really used to repair peoples PC's. By chasing down the problem and fixing it, but that sort of fixing takes time and people didn't want to pay. So his answer to the problem was to lay off all his employees.

His answer to any problem he's presented with is to do a reinstall. He offloads all the customers personal stuff, reinstalls the OS, puts their stuff back then leaves them to do the updates. His customers seem happy and he's happy, so from his point of view it's a win, win situation.

Needless to say I don't take my problems to him. If I can't fix them myself, I run them by PCA, it get's sorted one way or another.

But as for your need and that of your new employer, I'm with Mr Mistoffelees.

I think if I was in your situation, I would go to the 'Citizens Advice Bureau' and get one of their solicitors to draw up a disclaimer. Absolving you of all blame and responsibility, should anything go wrong with anyones PC. Then make sure you get your boss to sign it.

  lotvic 22:16 10 Aug 2013

Job Rules: Do no harm and always be able to put unit back to how it was before you tinkered. Applies to both hardware and software data. Take a photo of wiring so you know what colour goes back in where.

If you don't know how to do something, ask to be shown, don't guess in the hope that it will be ok (sleepless night worrying). (Mistakes can be costly especially if you blow a motherboard or cpu)

You won't be able to read and remember all the manuals, there are too many different pcs. Best thing is to google for the .pdfs of Service Manuals on Manufacturers websites. As an example, Dell is a good general one for starters as has diagrams and howtos for disassembly and replacement of parts and what parts are compatible. If you are replacing parts it's the Service Manual for the pc you are working on that you want. Example Laptop inspiron-5000 click here

  danabrey 00:21 11 Aug 2013

Some really helpful stuff here - firstly, thanks for taking the time to respond. I'm in a bit of a bind in my current job in that they want me to move to a different branch which would be entirely impractical time and money wise. This means I'm desperate for another job, but I know I'm concerned about both the practicalities and ethics of taking this job otherwise I wouldn't be seeking out a forum to post on.

Graphicool1, as to the nature of the business, the area is full of wealthy students and older people, who think nothing of a £50 labour charge for a simple repair. The shop has been recently extended and renovated and I can't find a reason to doubt that the owner's current business model is working. Your advice about a disclaimer concerns me, however. Would I personally be liable for blowing someone's motherboard? Or would the business be liable and therefore my job be at risk?

Lotvic, I'm grateful for the practical advice. I stupidly hadn't thought of taking photos, easy enough with a smartphone. I'd be sure to be careful and ask if I really don't know what I'm doing.

Is it possible to learn this stuff successfully by being methodical, careful and researching intelligently as I go? Or is it just completely barmy to expect somebody to do that?

  LastChip 01:32 11 Aug 2013

I wouldn't worry about a disclaimer; the business is liable providing you're not going there on a self-employed or contractor basis.

If it's been there 12+ years, it's quite possible the owner is knowledgeable and prepared to train you. It seems you've been completely honest about your (present) lack of ability, so all credit to you. Get stuck in; most problems can be resolved via a Google search and those that can't the owner/client will have to make a decision on, whether that will be a complete reinstall or whatever. Be methodical in your approach and take particular note of where everything goes if you're disassembling something. Access to a digital camera or mobile phone camera to take photographs can be invaluable when it comes to reassembly. Most hardware issues these days are either component swaps or scrap the machine.

If you're working in that environment, you should pick up sufficient knowledge to be useful in about a month, and pretty good in a year. It's up to you to prove your worth. Clearly from your post, you're prepared to learn, so you're in with a fighting chance.

Learn how to use a Linux Live CD. You'll amaze everyone when you can recover data from a dead system, providing the hard drive is OK. You can boot into any machine and read all the data that you wish, unless the system is encrypted. It makes a total nonsense of so called security.

The shop should have basic equipment like power supply testers and adaptors for linking hard drives into alternative systems. Though many like PC World will say, sorry, you'll loose all your data and make no attempt to recover it. Astonishingly, people just accept that and think it's the norm.

Can you learn it? I should think 80%-90% of the repair shops out there have no more knowledge than many of the members here, so yes you can. Some simply tell lies when they don't have the knowledge. I was once told by a PC World technician, I could only use a dot matrix printer on a Linux system. I didn't have the heart to tell him he was talking nonsense. Always remember, 95% of the population will probably have less knowledge than you - it's the 5% you have to worry about ;-)

Good luck to you.

  michaelw 08:57 11 Aug 2013

I think PC World's Tech Guys use the same philosophy as your new boss. But good luck.

  Bob Exeter 09:25 11 Aug 2013

I suppose we must be thankful that you are not applying for a job at the local hospital. God forbid!!!

  spuds 13:03 11 Aug 2013

Reading the introduction seems to be on a similar stance to a few of my local Computer repair and supply establishments. The owner of the business usually 'sets-on' staff at times of need, they are not actually employed by the person owning or running the business, but its more of a freelance arrangement.

The owner does a diagnostics or verbal with their clients, and then leaves someone else to change the components, with the 'boss' perhaps doing any final checks. In some circumstances (most times), its a case of a reformat, so making life easier for the 'repairer'.

I and the owners of the business's being in a heavy student location, most of their 'assistants' are students or 'disabled' people seeking very casual work. At the end of the day, they have no real qualifications, except that they can assemble or dismantle a computer, and fit components. Unless in the case of students, their student's course is in the IT world?.

To find how things work with computer's, then I would suggest YouTube videos might be one answer?.

  danabrey 14:26 11 Aug 2013

Thanks for your replies.

I'm leaning towards just taking the job, taking my time and learning what I can.. I suppose that apart from the risk of being in the same boat in a months time if I haven't picked up enough, the gamble is all his and its a fairly good opportunity to have the time to learn things that I've wanted to learn for a long time.

I'm really grateful for your opinions, positive or negative. Lastchip, some invaluable advice about live CDs etc. I have bigger ambition than to just wing it and learn little. Hopefully I will pick things up quickly and show that. Also thanks for clearing up the disclaimer issue - I'm relieved to know that I wouldn't be liable, although obviously I'll take every precaution I can to make sure that's not an issue!

Jock1e, I like your optimism in saying to come back here to help others!

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