If you fix computers regularly (or you're the type that often fixes computers for friends and family), you've probably developed a collection of software and tools to help you fix things more efficiently. Since I occasionally play technician myself, I thought I'd share with you some tools that make easier to troubleshoot PC problems every day.
Having a good collection of software
Quality software you help you diagnose and solve many problems. If someone needs to reinstall Windows and not have the CD, then what? You may want to buy a CD folder to hold all types of software. Here is a sample of what you'll find on my computer:
> Two boot CDs with diagnostics programs
> Live Linux CDs including Ubuntu and Knoppix
> Three versions of Microsoft Office (including 2003)
> Windows 95, 98SE, 2000, XP Home and Pro (plus a special version licensed company)
> Apply service packs and patches for each version of Windows on CD
> Two CDs with different reference points in them
> Visual Studio. NET
> Three utility CDs with antivirus / antispyware programs and use applications such as Adobe Reader
> Norton Ghost
> Partition Magic
> Many of the more random disks
Carry common cords
> USB Cable – The most common peripheral interface of
> Firewire Cable
> Standard PC power cord
> Ethernet cable (you might want to carry 2-3 of these)
> Wireless USB adapter – Help to avoid having to run Ethernet cable 30 meters just to get a line of machines. Why use cabling if there is a wireless network in the area?
A way to move and store files
Some use a USB thumbdrive on a keychain, but I think the size limit of flash memory is constrictive when working on a PC. I have a 160GB FireWire / USB external hard drive as part of my team. Thus, if you need someone to backup files or just want to work on some other computer, I have everything in my hands.
A few screwdrivers and things …
Every PC technician Phillips screwdriver is your confidence at all times, right? The standard size fits most screws desktop, but you may want to obtain a mini-screwdriver set to work on laptops. Three-prong screw grabbers (or tweezers) are great for when you drop a screw in or below the plate base. Or you could just get a magnetized screwdriver and pick up the screws to him. Carry a small flashlight will help you see in the dark recesses the case, and needle-nose pliers are useful for hard drive jumpers. Finally, a notepad, post-it notes and pens and pencils away.
> Power Supply Tester
> Network Cable Tester
> Tester motherboard (usually PCI, the BIOS product codes)
Get a good bag
How will you carry all this around? In a good bag, of course. I use a medium size bag, but any sturdy canvas to do.
Outside the diagnosis, many technicians carry common parts as spare as:
> Wireless Router
> Standard ATX Power Supply 300-500W
> Albums internal hard drives (40GB, 80GB, 120GB)
> Protection against overvoltages
These are the basic elements for day to day troubleshooting. For those doing more advanced diagnostic procedures may also recommend a welder. Also you may want to try carrying an iPod (or any music player) – but not for technical reasons. Provides an excellent source of entertainment while you watching the progress bar creep.
Alex Smith is a technical consultant and web designer based in Charlotte, North Carolina. You can visit asmithtech.com [http://www.asmithtech.com] for a complete overview of his services.
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