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Thinking of starting a computer repair business and looking for advice on parts and pricing.

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
So, I am thinking of starting a computer repair business. I am 15 years old, but I have some experience fixing relatives' computers and I don't plan to take on difficult tasks like data repair. I plan to do the following:

Dead hardware replacement.

Software and OS installations for people who don't want to learn how.

Data backup (basically adding a second hard drive and setting up RAID)

Computer upgrades (better processor, more memory, etc.)

Custom builds for customers (I help them choose parts, then I assemble it and install their choice of OS)

"Degunking" of OS (installing antivirus software, and backup and reinstall of OS if necessary)

Partition maintenance (set up dual-boot system, fix boot menus, delete non-used OS)


So, most of this stuff I can do without needing to spend a lot of money. I can use Microsoft Security Essentials for the antivirus, and no professional data backup programs; I can just copy and paste "Documents" folder, set up RAID, and so on. But in order to test dead parts, I will need CPUs and motherboards of several different sockets. These are the most common socket types that I can find: FM1, FM2, and LGA 1155. I also have an Athlon II AM3 setup in my own computer that I can use. Are there any other common sockets that I am missing?

Also, what are the going rates for someone without much experience? I will have to have clients bring their computers to me, but I will do evaluation of the problems free of cost, and I won't charge for problems I can't fix. Is $25 an hour too much?
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post #2 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Algorithm View Post

So, I am thinking of starting a computer repair business. I am 15 years old, but I have some experience fixing relatives' computers and I don't plan to take on difficult tasks like data repair. I plan to do the following:

Dead hardware replacement.

Software and OS installations for people who don't want to learn how.

Data backup (basically adding a second hard drive and setting up RAID)

Computer upgrades (better processor, more memory, etc.)

Custom builds for customers (I help them choose parts, then I assemble it and install their choice of OS)

"Degunking" of OS (installing antivirus software, and backup and reinstall of OS if necessary)

Partition maintenance (set up dual-boot system, fix boot menus, delete non-used OS)


So, most of this stuff I can do without needing to spend a lot of money. I can use Microsoft Security Essentials for the antivirus, and no professional data backup programs; I can just copy and paste "Documents" folder, set up RAID, and so on. But in order to test dead parts, I will need CPUs and motherboards of several different sockets. These are the most common socket types that I can find: FM1, FM2, and LGA 1155. I also have an Athlon II AM3 setup in my own computer that I can use. Are there any other common sockets that I am missing?

Also, what are the going rates for someone without much experience? I will have to have clients bring their computers to me, but I will do evaluation of the problems free of cost, and I won't charge for problems I can't fix. Is $25 an hour too much?
I would also get an am3+ and 2011 motherboard. you should be able to find them fairly cheaply in the OCN Marketplace. It sounds like you have thought it out pretty well. As far as what to charge it is hard to say as prices vary so widely by region. If I were you, I would call around and get different rates from shops in your area, average that out and undercut them by a decent percentage, you don't want to go so low that people think you must not know what you are doing. I wish you luck in your endeavor as I am trying the same thing here where I live. It sucks so much when you say "I have to go buy some computer parts, I'll be back from BESTBUY in a bit" redface.gif
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post #3 of 18
I would avoid trying to 'stockpile' a lot of spare parts, computer tech depreciates in value very rapidly.
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post #4 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by azrael36 View Post

As far as what to charge it is hard to say as prices vary so widely by region. If I were you, I would call around and get different rates from shops in your area, average that out and undercut them by a decent percentage, you don't want to go so low that people think you must not know what you are doing." redface.gif

Professional techs in my area charge $50 to $80 per hour. An "at-home" tech near me charges $30. So I think that $20 or $25 seems reasonable.
Quote:
Originally Posted by BinaryDemon View Post

I would avoid trying to 'stockpile' a lot of spare parts, computer tech depreciates in value very rapidly.

How would you suggest going about testing parts? If there is an easier way, I would certainly like to save myself an estimated $500.
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post #5 of 18
RAID is NOT a backup solution. If they need backups, suggest manually copying files to a usb drive or if they are lazy, suggest they get something like acronis

$25 an hour for a 15 year old with no real experience is a rather steep price to ask. Especially if they have to bring their machines to you. Ask your other 15 year old mates how much they are making an hour and base it around that.

MSE is not the best AV software to offer a client, especially if they are so clueless that they need someone to install their os or to remove virus' from their machines in the first place.
Suggest that they get a paid version of something like Kaspersky or they risk having more issues sooner rather than later.

I would not worry too much about getting cutting edge cpu/sockets as someone that needs assistance repairing their pc is most likely to have older hardware. I would suggest getting socket 939 and 775 hardware.

Also, a pc speaker like this http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/PC-Speaker-for-connecting-to-Motherboard-Header-for-BIOS-post-error-beeps-/200922762563?pt=UK_Computing_Motherboard_Components&hash=item2ec7ee0d43 would be a great idea for checking issues at POST incase the board does not have one built in.

Honestly, if you want to do this sort of job well, you need to do some more research. Google common pc issues etc , good antivirus software, good backup software, see what sort of common problems there are and how to resolve them, blah blah blah.
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post #6 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by BinaryDemon View Post

I would avoid trying to 'stockpile' a lot of spare parts, computer tech depreciates in value very rapidly.

I agree with this. You should be able to troubleshoot most problems with enough confidence that you can suggest replacement of either the mobo, cpu, whatever. Just preface with "I'm 90% confident this is it, do you want to take a chance and order the part?" Just try not to be wrong too often.

Whenever you're looking at a business venture, look at it from a "break even" perspective. If you buy, say 10 different motherboards and the RAM that matches those motherboards and spend, say $200 (conservatively) - at $25/ hour you already have to work 8 hours to break even. At 15 years old, with school and whatever else you do, 8 hours is a lot.

I have my own computer business and no one has ever really had a problem with me ordering them parts and waiting. If they do, then they pay the premium for me to go out and find someplace that has it, or for the expedited shipping from Newegg - you can almost always have it the next day from Newegg. The key is to be as honest as possible and let people know - "I can fix it and have it to you tomorrow, but it will cost extra for the next day shipping and a rush fee from me, or you can wait 2 or 3 days, but it's way cheaper." You'll be amazed how once you put the choice of money in their hands, suddenly waiting a few days isn't so bad.
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post #7 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SkItZo View Post

RAID is NOT a backup solution. If they need backups, suggest manually copying files to a usb drive or if they are lazy, suggest they get something like acronis

$25 an hour for a 15 year old with no real experience is a rather steep price to ask. Especially if they have to bring their machines to you. Ask your other 15 year old mates how much they are making an hour and base it around that.

MSE is not the best AV software to offer a client, especially if they are so clueless that they need someone to install their os or to remove virus' from their machines in the first place.
Suggest that they get a paid version of something like Kaspersky or they risk having more issues sooner rather than later.

I would not worry too much about getting cutting edge cpu/sockets as someone that needs assistance repairing their pc is most likely to have older hardware. I would suggest getting socket 939 and 775 hardware.

Also, a pc speaker like this http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/PC-Speaker-for-connecting-to-Motherboard-Header-for-BIOS-post-error-beeps-/200922762563?pt=UK_Computing_Motherboard_Components&hash=item2ec7ee0d43 would be a great idea for checking issues at POST incase the board does not have one built in.

Honestly, if you want to do this sort of job well, you need to do some more research. Google common pc issues etc , good antivirus software, good backup software, see what sort of common problems there are and how to resolve them, blah blah blah.

Yeah, my bad about the RAID. I was assuming that all backup was for hard drive failure, and I forgot about malware. I suppose it's easier to copy the disk image to an external hard drive with the right software anyway.
Unfortunately, I don't know anyone else my age who does work like this. I came up with the idea on my own because I need money to build myself a really good gaming computer. Do you think that $20 is too much?
I already have a speaker in my own case. I got the case from a stripped-down computer that is pretty old.
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Llama View Post

I agree with this. You should be able to troubleshoot most problems with enough confidence that you can suggest replacement of either the mobo, cpu, whatever. Just preface with "I'm 90% confident this is it, do you want to take a chance and order the part?" Just try not to be wrong too often.

Whenever you're looking at a business venture, look at it from a "break even" perspective. If you buy, say 10 different motherboards and the RAM that matches those motherboards and spend, say $200 (conservatively) - at $25/ hour you already have to work 8 hours to break even. At 15 years old, with school and whatever else you do, 8 hours is a lot.

I have my own computer business and no one has ever really had a problem with me ordering them parts and waiting. If they do, then they pay the premium for me to go out and find someplace that has it, or for the expedited shipping from Newegg - you can almost always have it the next day from Newegg. The key is to be as honest as possible and let people know - "I can fix it and have it to you tomorrow, but it will cost extra for the next day shipping and a rush fee from me, or you can wait 2 or 3 days, but it's way cheaper." You'll be amazed how once you put the choice of money in their hands, suddenly waiting a few days isn't so bad.

I know that it's easy to check a hard drive or RAM, but figuring out whether the CPU or the motherboard is harder. I had a motherboard blow on me, and I didn't know whether it was the motherboard or the CPU for months. I'd hate to tell a customer to replace a $1000 i7 3970X and then find out it was the $100 motherboard.
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post #8 of 18
Do a bespoke business and it will save you headache.

Don't mass buy parts unless they're on super sales , and even then only parts that won't depreciate in a year (ram)

And as above posters say you will want a LGA 2011, LGA 1155, AM3+, FM2 setup to troubleshoot motherboard/CPU failure
Quote:
I came up with the idea on my own because I need money to build myself a really good gaming computer. Do you think that $20 is too much?

Yes, $20 per hour for a 15 year old with no qualifications is a lot to ask. You should be asking about $10-15 tops per hour.

Also, I think there's better ways to earn money than opening a computer repair business even at 15 yrs old. The above mentioned setups for troubleshooting would already be more than a gaming computer.

You need to be willing to invest capital into the business and electronics depreciate insanely.
Edited by AlphaC - 5/18/13 at 10:25am
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post #9 of 18
RAID 1 is EXCELLENT for backup. Most of my clients use RAID 1 for data redundancy. Its not cheap to "waste" all those drives in a simple mirror configuration but they are real happy when a drive does eventually fail. You can get data off striped drives but it is extremely expensive, orders of magnitude so than a RAID 1 mirror.

There are all kinds of tools you can get to save yourself time. one thing I would get would be a $15 PSU tester, it can tests all the various plugs and pin configurations to help you eliminate power from the problem immediately. Get a disk to disk copier that will copy boot sector etc and make a bootable copy of any hard drive you choose to work on. You can get some for around $50, i use a cheap startech disk duplicator and it can also be used to slave in sata drives that are not bad to pull data off or copy. I highly recommend you make a copy (this means you need to keep a couple high capacity drives on hand) of their disc before you do any significant work. That way if you screw it up ,you can put it right back like you found it. I setup a spot on the table that is grounded and I use it to test mainboards without having to do any installs. Clean and orderly is key to working on computers. Save all screws or any other type f hardware, always. You never know when it will come in handy and you will find it often does. Sounds like you know a good bit and should be capable, just remember its feast or famine, make them pay for the parts up front and never let them take the machine until the bill is paid in full. LOL Can you tell ive done this once or twice maybe?

Consider insurance. some jerk will end up sueing you. Its inevitable in this day and age. Making a complete bootable copy of their hard drive and contents will go along ways towards preventing this. Im sure theres a lot more thats just not popping up right this second. just have fun.
Edited by Ultisym - 5/18/13 at 10:22am
   
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post #10 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Algorithm View Post

How would you suggest going about testing parts? If there is an easier way, I would certainly like to save myself an estimated $500.

Well you are going to need some equipment, I was just trying to suggest you not pre-order a bunch of parts in advance (i.e. 10x SSD's, videocards, ect).
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