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Old 04-06-2012, 07:14 AM
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Default Hardware Diagnostics

Hi Everyone.

In my shop I offer free hardware diagnostics for my customers.. I know, I know, I should be charging for these.. But I have found that saying "free diags" seems to get people in the door easier.

That being said, right now we are using ultimate boot cd and running memtest and the drive fitness test for memory and hard drive testing.

Does anyone have a better solution for this? These programs seem really outdated and I'm not entirely sure how accurate they are.

Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
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Old 04-06-2012, 08:50 AM
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Drive Fitness Test is still a valid program, I believe a few people around the forums use it, including myself. I tested it yesterday with SeaTools for DOS on a just about failing (only one or two bad sectors) disk and they both failed it, so it's still good. Memtest is a good tool but memory errors can be very hard to pinpoint and diagnose using such software, meaning you may need to run it for hours (maybe days) on end, even after successful passes, before you find any problems.

There's also suites like PC-Doctor; some people swear by them, others fail to see the point. They can usually test a lot more than free alternatives, but still require quite a high amount of functioning semi-hardware before they can run. One of the massive advantages is you can usually batch diagnose and run consecutive tests after one another, rather than having to start/stop a different utility every couple of hours.
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Old 04-06-2012, 01:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iisjman07 View Post
Memtest is a good tool but memory errors can be very hard to pinpoint and diagnose using such software, meaning you may need to run it for hours (maybe days) on end, even after successful passes, before you find any problems.
I have been letting memtest 86 + run on machines for at least 9 hours before I am satisfied.

Quote:
Originally Posted by iisjman07 View Post
There's also suites like PC-Doctor; some people swear by them, others fail to see the point. They can usually test a lot more than free alternatives, but still require quite a high amount of functioning semi-hardware before they can run. One of the massive advantages is you can usually batch diagnose and run consecutive tests after one another, rather than having to start/stop a different utility every couple of hours.
I recently started using PC-Doctor. I am fairly impressed so far. There is quite a multitude of tests that can be performed. I still use other tools (SeaTools and Drive Fitness Test for HDDs) but PC-Doctor is a nice piece of my toolkit. Worth the money IMO.
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Old 04-06-2012, 01:22 PM
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Without going into too much detail . . .

gmsmartcontrol: HDD diagnostics, allows me to test up to 8 HDDs on one machine at a time and 20+ HDDs in a day on that same machine

Memtest86+: By far the most accurate memtest diagnostics I have come across, of course you need to run it for at least 6 passes. Its not hard to pinpoint memory failures, just need to know what you are doing. I have never HAD to run a test for longer than 6 passes or 8 hours. Most major failures will show up in the first couple passes, while more subtle errors will show up closer to 5.

PC-Doctor: Not very accurate for HDD diagnostics, but its good for a second opinion. Memory test is not as good as memtest86+ either. However, for MOBO, CPU, and GPU, its probably the best thing out there. A couple things you have to consider though. There quite a few false positives that you will have to recognize and learn to ignore and you can only test it on one machine at a time.

On that note of not charging for a diagnostics, you really need to change that. Why (well there are many many many reasons why)? Because the word FREE attracts "Free Loaders" . . . people who are only interested in knowing whats wrong with their computer and not actually in repairing it. Yes, you will obviously get people who will pay for repairs, but instead of wasting your time on those who do not, you might as well get paid for your time.

In my experience, people charge what they are worth . . . are you worthless?
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Old 04-06-2012, 03:16 PM
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We do free estimates/diagnostics. We also try to turn a PC around in 1-2 days. These two things really help us differentiate us from our competitors.

If a bank is offering free checking, does that mean that it is worthless?

Also, we have not had any freeloaders, just people seriously considering using us to fix it. Our competitors charge a $50 or even a $120 diag fee. Our rates are still the 2nd highest in town, though, so we don't attract the cheap guys.
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Old 04-06-2012, 03:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PCX View Post
Without going into too much detail . . .

gmsmartcontrol: HDD diagnostics, allows me to test up to 8 HDDs on one machine at a time and 20+ HDDs in a day on that same machine
I just downloaded and installed gsmartcontrol yesterday to check it out. Seemt to work pretty quickly and I was unaware I could check multiple HDD's at once, that's even better! What kind of power supply are you using with 8 HDD's?
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Old 04-06-2012, 03:22 PM
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Doesn't gsmartcontrol do an ATA self test of the drive?

Edit: Just had a chance to actually test the windows version on a failing disk that DFT & SeaTools diagnosed as failed, and even a quick test came back with read errors. Seems to work nicely.
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Last edited by iisjman07; 04-06-2012 at 03:37 PM.
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Old 04-06-2012, 04:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob_NNCC View Post
We do free estimates/diagnostics. We also try to turn a PC around in 1-2 days. These two things really help us differentiate us from our competitors.

If a bank is offering free checking, does that mean that it is worthless?

Also, we have not had any freeloaders, just people seriously considering using us to fix it. Our competitors charge a $50 or even a $120 diag fee. Our rates are still the 2nd highest in town, though, so we don't attract the cheap guys.
If you keep your rates higher, you will most definitely weed out the bad and cheap customers, however, you really are doing a disservice to your self and your business for not charging for a diagnostics. I will not go into specific reasons because the list is too long, but let me put this into some perspective.

We are the fasting growing computer shop in this area (for many reasons), with that said, we are also the only shop that charges a diagnostics fee up front and we are the only shop that does not boast about 1 to 2 day repairs. In fact, we tell the customer that we refuse to cut corners and rush repairs on their computer. I tell them that if they want it done faster and cheaper, there are plenty of other shops who will cater to that, but I cannot guarantee their level of quality or if their computer will be free of other issues. In short we focus on quality, not quantity.

I have a slight edge on a lot of techs because of my background in sales. You have to know how to talk to people and put the ball in their court. You have to get the customer to see two choices and with those two choices, you have to make them see that you are the only logical choice. In other words, you have to sell your services in such a way that the customer realizes that they are either going to choose quality and security or fast, cheap and risky. Those that choose the later are typically customers you do not want to deal with anyways.

That is what separates us from the competition. We actually had two customer from yesterday that choose us over the other guys after doing what I just explained above. It happens all the time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Slaters Kustum Machines View Post
I just downloaded and installed gsmartcontrol yesterday to check it out. Seemt to work pretty quickly and I was unaware I could check multiple HDD's at once, that's even better! What kind of power supply are you using with 8 HDD's?
You have to get a power supply that has 8+ SATA power connectors. The reason is because if you use IDE, then for some reasons it resets all the drives and you have to restart the tests. I do not know the technical reason why, but basically the IDE power connectors do not like hot-swapping.

Also, you will want to do this in Linux, not Windows.

Quote:
Originally Posted by iisjman07 View Post
Doesn't gsmartcontrol do an ATA self test of the drive?

Edit: Just had a chance to actually test the windows version on a failing disk that DFT & SeaTools diagnosed as failed, and even a quick test came back with read errors. Seems to work nicely.
Quick test will usually pick up read errors quicker than most test, which saves a lot of time. Of course, if it passes the short test, then you need to run the extended test.
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Old 04-06-2012, 04:56 PM
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How many watts is your PS?
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Old 04-06-2012, 05:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slaters Kustum Machines View Post
How many watts is your PS?
750W which is more than enough. With a basic board and setup and quad core processor, you could probably get away with a 500 or 650. I always go higher than necessary for more breathing room.
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