A few months ago I ran a software giveaway in exchange for some survey answers. There were two questions that came up often amongst the technicians and one of them was:
“Where do you draw the line between suggesting rebuilding a PC or suggesting that they go buy a new one?”
The other question is:
“At what point in the repair cycle do you make the choice to format & reinstall the OS and the applications?”
The answer to both of these questions are identical.
“Always do what is best for your client”
This golden rule makes it much easier when deciding what to do, but lets break it down a little more.
If a client brought in an old computer with a failed motherboard, chances are that it will not be cost effective to repair since the cost of a faster second hand computer will be similar. I could replace the motherboard and reinstall the OS so I feel good about being the technician who fixes things rather than telling the client to buy a new one, but this is not in the best interest for my client. The best thing to do is to tell them how much repairing their old computer will cost, then tell them that they can have a much faster machine for a similar cost and let them choose.
If this client brought in the same aging computer and it only had a light virus infection rather than a failed motherboard, it may not be in the best interest of the client if I did an outright nuke and pave (format).
In most cases, I will attempt to move a virus for about an hour. After that 1 hour I will make the decision whether to continue removing the virus or just format the machine.
If I am making progress and believe that I will be finished soon, then I will continue removing the virus because this usually takes no more than 2 hours. However, if the virus is particularly nasty and it has damaged critical parts of the operating system then there is no point trying to fix it for a further 3 hours if I am going to have to format it anyway.
I like being a skilled technician that can remove just about any virus if I have enough time, but if a format is the cheaper and more stable result for the client then I am going to go with that. Again always, do what is best for your client; in both price and reliability.
While I am on the topic of reliability, what is best for a residential client may not be what is best for a business client. In most cases, a business client with an established business will value turnaround time and reliability more than price. There have been a few times where I could have purchased a part for a business client at a cheaper price but it would have taken time for me to obtain it (eBay). Instead, the choice was to get their computers up and running within a few hours at a premium rather than having them wait a few days and lose productivity.
I could choose options that are better for my business and make me more money but by looking after your clients, they like you more which results in more work from them and recommendations to their friends, which in turn makes you more money in the long run anyway.