Calling all A+ Technicians....
I received my A+ certification about 3 months ago. I'm interested in hearing from any A+ service technicians. How do you prepare for a service call with an unknown computer problem? What type of tools/software do you take along to cover any sort of problem.
Last edited by Zak; 12-19-2001 at 06:02 PM.
Hammer, skilsaw, garden hose
Seriously, find one of those small kits made especially for computers which include a small screwdriver with changeable heads to deal with all kind of screws in a computer, including those things you secure your monitor connector in.
A ziplok bag with some spare screws and jumpers is often handy. Get a pair of tiny longnose pliers to deal with hard to reach jumpers and runaway screws.
Always carry a boot disk (and a boot CD to deal with those wannabe geeks who think it's cool not to have a floppy drive) and a disk with Partition Magic or other partition resize tool.
Carry a small multimeter if the problem has even a slight chance of being power supply related.
I think that's about it.
besides all of the items skuz mentioned...it never hurts to have a reference book....there's always gonna be things you've never had to deal with before.
But keep the reference book in your glove compartment along with some extra 'tools'. that way if you're stumped and know that the answer might be in the book, you just say 'ah, i think IO've cracked it. I just need to get my xxxxxx from the car'. then you can go and get your other 'tools' and take a peek in the book to refresh your brain.
that way it won't look like your first ever call. Don't want to be looking like you don't know what your doing at a clients house.
not that I'm sneaky like that or anything.
This may sound a little much but I have a fishing tackle box with all my tools, cables, screws, heat compound and any thing else I may need. It may be a little big but I have everything I need.
Thanks all for your reply, I've got the tool kit, but never thought about spare parts such as extra screws and jumpers... I never thought about partion magic, that's a good idea ! Can I fit that on a floppy ?
also you might want to take .CAB files with on the OS your going to be working on...windows like to ask for cabs if you reload drivers and such...btw win 98 cabs will work on 95
Older versions of PM (I have 4.0) fit on a floppy, but they lack some features. Mine for example can't handle bigger than 8 GB partitions (but it does support FAT32 and NTFS). The newest demo I saw was around 30 megs (???).
I have found that carring a small sized USB hard drive (must be PNP) with all my stuff on it sometimes helps. Maybe like a zip drive, or actual USB hard drive, more expensive and sometimes not able to use if the computer has certain problems.
When life gives you lemons, throw them at some other poor sucker.
I have a CD holder that came with my Dell sever.
In it I keep Win95,win98,win2k,winME,NT4,3com disk with nic drivers,a video CD That I found which has a driver for almost every video card.,Pc anywhere,Norton,.
Get a pair of forcepts. I work in a hospital, I have found so many uses for them.
Carry extra NICs,Memory, Modems, Sound cards, Floppy drives, HDDs, and CDroms. Always look for the added sale.
get a cable tester to verify their modem line or cat5.
Ya, a cd case will quickly fill up with necessary cd's if you're making house calls. I don't leave home without:
Win every OS
cd & disk of necessary utils like winzip, acrobat reader etc.
Plus, do yourself a big big favour and get pen-sized flashlight, a mirror (dentist's mirror is really good) and maybe a can of compressed air.
EX Moderator-May He Rest in Peace
Forceps as mentioned above are quite handy don't leave home without them, d/l every hard drive brands diagnostic utility which has drive copy, ezbios etc. such as datalifeguard tools for western digital drives, maxblast for maxtor etc. and a power screwdriver that bends such as the one black and decker makes with a magnetic philips tip if you have to open alot of cases especially old ones.
And check the forums for error problems and fixes so you'll know what to do when you see same error on your repair.
Hate to disagree with anyone wit so many posts here, but any tools used must be de-magnetized if you plan on waving them around inside a PC case.
nowadays most tools bought for the job (like the kits you get in PC World etc.) will already be done but even something like a little magnetized screwdriver can do all sorts of damage in there with all those delicate little chips.
stick with the forceps and use them to get at anything you drop rather than relying on a screwdriver.
anyway a PC case isn't complete without at least one screw rolling around inside. its tradition.
In another life I performed field engineering duties on main frame computer systems. Had cards available for swapping, but usually a large installation had identical equipment one could use to swap cards and peripherals. Also, had o'scope available. Obviously times have changed and all posters make worthy recommendations.
I will only add a comment to the question how to make a call to an unknown computer problem . I would gather as much information about the clients' problem before making the call. You can do some research prior to the call if necessary. This will give you confidence and a heads up for a solution. I would almost never make a call without some knowledge of the problem beforehand. A telephone conference with user prior to the service should help.
I would just add to rangeral's list above: two little utilities that I always take along. One: "DELPART.EXE" very handy for deleting those Linux or NT partitions that refuse to be moved by Fdisk. I have never seen a partition that it will not eat. Two: "DUG_IDE", which is a quick and handy thing for telling you what kind of IDE harddrive you have on the computer without opening the box.
Also as to the magnetic screw driver question, I asked my A+ instructor about that when I took my course. He was a very seasoned hardware geek if ever I have seen one, and he said he had always used a magnetic screwdriver and had never seen or heard of any problem related to the use of them. I have found them to be invaluable and always use them.