Santa Rosa PC repair?
March 2, 2006 8:36 AM   Subscribe

My dad's PC just died. 1) What is a cheap, reliable repair shop in Santa Rosa, Calif? 2) If it turns out to be truly not reparable, what are some tips for buying used computers off of craigslist?

He's more or less housebound due to chronic illness. He's in a panic without it, because it's a big chunk of his social life, but he's on social security so he can't just hop on down and buy a new one. He can't drive but he has friends and family who will drive him around, within reason.
posted by small_ruminant to Technology (23 answers total)
For 2) I've found there are a lot of people that want way too much money for their used computer. I would lowball until someone accepts.

Assuming it can't be fixed, what is your father's budget?
posted by deadfather at 8:42 AM on March 2, 2006

(For a new computer, I mean.)
posted by deadfather at 8:43 AM on March 2, 2006

Response by poster: deadfather, I've noticed the same thing. I'm especially impressed with the people who want a lot of money for their 1995 PC with no CD drive or whatever.

I'm figuring we could go as high as a couple hundred bucks, but I don't even know where to start. He needs MS Office on it. He needs a CD drive, and a DVD drive would be nice, but I think I have an external somewhere I can give him. He webbrowses and emails all the time, and uses comcast DSL, I think. Other than that I don't think he uses it for much. He doesn't need a gaming-worthy specs or anything.

What would be a good dollar range to spend? I'm totally at sea. Also, how can you get it checked out to see if people are dumping something because of bad spots in their hard drive or it being irrevocably virus-ridden or something.

Any suggestions?
posted by small_ruminant at 9:35 AM on March 2, 2006

Response by poster: Hmm. A coworker just told me that Costco has decent really basic PCs for < $300. That might be the way to go.
posted by small_ruminant at 9:36 AM on March 2, 2006

Here's a couple ways to save money:

1. If he currently has MS Office, he can install it on the new one as long as the old doesn't work. Alternatively, there's OpenOffice, which is quite usable and MS-compatible.

2. The monitor, keyboard, and mouse from the old PC should still be fine. No need to get a bundled system with everything.

So, all you really need is a new CPU. Try googling for "barebones systems." There's lots of sites that will let you configure a brand-new system using only the parts you need. These trend toward including newer processors, so look for clearance systems. Under $200 is very doable.

Another great option (and upon preview, seeing your Costco note): Do you have Fry's out there? They often have great deals on entry-level systems.

Otherwise, keep lowballing those craiglisters. And in my experience, eBay doesn't present good deals, either.
posted by deadfather at 9:44 AM on March 2, 2006

I haven't lived in Santa Rosa for many many years, but at one time, Bits N PCs was the place to go for just about everything. If they're still around, they may be be a good place to call about a repair.
posted by Malor at 9:52 AM on March 2, 2006

Don't waste your time with the crap on Craigslist. That's where people dump off their problems, not quality stuff. Either that or the ad just leads you to a local computer store anyway.

If he really wants a cheap PC, pick up an eMachine or something. I know a few people that have eMachines and none of them have reported any problems. eMachines was bought out a few years ago, and the quality has improved quite a bit.
posted by drstein at 9:57 AM on March 2, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks. There isn't a Fry's near Santa Rosa, I don't think, but there is one near here. Maybe we'll have a field trip.

I'll check out the eMachines, too. I think that's what Costco was selling.

Thanks for the Bits n PCs recommendation. Maybe if we end up getting a new machine they can help move his old data over to the new one.
posted by small_ruminant at 10:09 AM on March 2, 2006

Response by poster: Can you read MS Office files with OpenOffice?
posted by small_ruminant at 10:10 AM on March 2, 2006

Can you read MS Office files with OpenOffice?

Yes, you can. Write to them, too.
posted by deadfather at 10:47 AM on March 2, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks, deadfather- that sounds pretty good.

fandango_matt, DriveSavers looks like they do data recovery more than basic repair. Also, they're 45 minutes away even if you have a car. Still- thanks for the link. The gallery of disk-asters is pretty cool.
posted by small_ruminant at 10:53 AM on March 2, 2006

I agree that people *way* overcharge for used PCs.

TigerDirect has really a good selection for low prices: Here's their selection of PCs under $200, and here's their selection under $500.

I've bought from them on a few occasions, and have found ordering by phone and internet to be quite convenient.
posted by jasper411 at 10:58 AM on March 2, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks, jasper411. I'll check them out.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:38 AM on March 2, 2006 always has Dell coupons. You can get a nice Dell with a flat screen monitor for a few hundred bucks.
posted by k8t at 11:48 AM on March 2, 2006

Yup. Fry's in Fremont. Wait (if you can) until they have one of their "Great Quality" computers for $200, and grab it. When you can buy new for $200, it's not worth paying someone to fix the old. If it's really "broke" (ie, doesn't boot, isn't something obvious like the power supply, etc etc), then you're gonna replace it anyways -- it's just whether you're going to add $100 or so to the cost by having someone else do it for you.

If not fry's, go for a Dell.
posted by fishfucker at 12:12 PM on March 2, 2006

Also: stay away from small computer stores -- they used to be the shit, but nowadays it's cheaper to buy from a large retailer -- newegg if online, or fry's if you want it today.
posted by fishfucker at 12:13 PM on March 2, 2006

Tigerdirect is a terrible retailer. Stay AWAY from them. They overcharge, underdeliver, and in general SUCK. DO NOT shop there.

The nice thing about buying "whitebox PCs" from small shops is that you get industry-standard components that are easy to replace. So, if something breaks, you can often fix just that one part, instead of replacing the entire computer.

They're usually not quite as cheap, but you're not locked into anyone for where to get it fixed or upgraded, should you want to.

However, if you're just using it as a disposable appliance, that's not the way to go. When you're not going to upgrade it, and if it breaks, you'll just buy another... then prefabs are usually better.
posted by Malor at 12:35 PM on March 2, 2006

Just to reiterate - I've had nothing but positive experiences with Tiger Direct. I've bought hard drives and memory from them, and the service has been prompt and professional, and the prices have been competitive.

Obviously YMMV, as it sounds like Malor has had a bad experience.
posted by jasper411 at 12:59 PM on March 2, 2006

Mod note: fixed k8t's link
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:27 PM on March 2, 2006

Response by poster: I think he and I will go on a Fry's field trip. I have had good experiences with newegg, but it was a while back and I would prefer to have it in hand right now. Still not sure how we're going to pay for it.
posted by small_ruminant at 2:31 PM on March 2, 2006

TigerDirect seems to have a long record of being bad with rebates, service, etc etc, jasper411. Every thread I've read about them on or SlickDeals seems to have mostly negative reviews.
posted by fishfucker at 3:00 PM on March 2, 2006

Call HSC first and see if they can fix it. They're located in Rohnert Park and have fixed and built computers for us for the last 3 years.
posted by Lynsey at 8:28 PM on March 2, 2006

Response by poster: Hey, I forgot about HSC- thanks.
posted by small_ruminant at 9:45 PM on March 2, 2006

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