Disinfecting a Laptop: Do It without Ruining It!

Disinfecting a Laptop
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Last month we talked about caring for your Apple products, so as to keep them from becoming viral hotbeds. This month we want to make sure to cover the procedure for those of us who use hardware from other companies, especially including Toshiba, HP, Asus, and Lenovo, as they have authorized us here at ComputerCare to help customers with their devices. Doubtless after weeks of working from home, too, our laptops are all a bit dirtier than they used to be. Let’s talk about getting them clean.

First Step: Don’t Cause Damage in the Name of Cleanliness

Even though hygiene is important, we also have to draw a line when cleaning and disinfecting a laptop. Windex or Lysol might seem powerful, but they’re actually overkill and can damage the display or finish on your laptop, especially if an oleophobic coating is involved.

What You Can Use

Isopropyl alcohol is probably your best bet. It is less harsh, even though it still has people divided (and who knows when we will be able to get it again, anyway, given how many people hoarded it two months ago!). A best practice to make sure to safeguard your device is to make a solution of half 70% alcohol and half water (preferably distilled to prevent stains) and then use a microfiber cloth to apply that – very gently!

Never spray any cleaning solutions directly onto your laptop. By applying with a microfiber cloth, you avoid the danger of having excess liquid run through cracks into the internal hardware and wiring. Start with the keyboard, since it’s usually the dirtiest, and then move on from there so that you don’t spread grime from your keyboard onto already clean surfaces. Compressed air will also help you clean the connectors, ports, and other openings. Even if coronavirus is hiding inside, no one’s putting their face against their computer’s ports, so it’s probably safe!

Final Tip

Before doing any of the above procedures, be sure to power off your laptop and unplug its AC adapter. As always, when working with electronics and liquids in any form, it’s best to avoid the risk of electrocution to yourself or the device.

Questions or concerns? Not sure your device is having problems because it’s dirty or because it’s hardware is faulty? Contact us today. We have easy, COVID-safe procedures that allow you to drop off and pick up repaired devices with confidence, so you can send your laptop our way for both repairs and a complete sanitation!

It’s Our Great Clients Who Make Our Job Worth It

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Weathering the COVID-19 Pandemic with Kindness

At the end of March, 2020, as the COVID pandemic forced us all to stay home and find new ways to cope with business, we at ComputerCare brainstormed how we could continue to help our walk-in clients. Apple Genius Bars had closed, as had the Best Buy Geek Squad. At the same time, the new work-from-home workforce needed even more tech support, thanks to increased reliance on their devices to stay connected and get their jobs done. Suddenly that cracked screen on an iPhone, or that recurring screen-of-death on a laptop or tablet became major obstacles for clients, instead of just moderate annoyances they could worry about later. Now they found themselves struggling to maintain their workload in settings their jobs weren’t designed for, without the same support and assistance that more visible essential services received on the front lines.

With this in mind, we at ComputerCare tried to help out. We had to balance our own concerns for employee safety with our clients’ need for assistance, so we invented a hygienic and secure drop-off system for our Bay Area and Seattle locations. Walk-in clients became drop-by clients. After they created an appointment with us, they received access to a locker reserved for their device, and then once the device was ready to go, it was returned to them through the same easy (and easily sanitized) route. We put a lot of effort into this solution and found that within a few days of being up-and-running, we already had increasing numbers of clients needing our help. We have kept our noses to the grindstone and done as much as we can to make sure our services are speedy and safe for our clients’ sake. 

Client GiftsAnd then, without any expectation on our part, something wonderful started happening. Client gifts began showing up as thank-yous. After one lady picked up her device, we found a box of specialty candy for us in her locker. A gentleman gave us two bottles of hand-sanitizer (which we all know is as rare as diamonds these days!) since he had extra and knew we could use it. A client who makes masks also had a stash of n95 masks at home; he decided that since he could make his own mask for safety, he would offer us the medical grade ones. Considering that we are handling devices all day long and then trying to remember not to touch our faces after, this gift especially made us realize how thoughtful people really are in difficult times.

Client GiftsAs we all know, the world is completely topsy-turvy right now, and things we took completely for granted, like feeling safe at work, are no longer something we can count on. At ComputerCare, as we work hard to make sure the WFH workforce can have at least one reliable option for hardware support and repairs, we have felt the strain of these changes. We are happy to put in the effort, since we know our clients are also dealing with the complete change of their work life, loss of access to important services, and perhaps job insecurity about being able to keep up in the new environment. At the same time, though, it can be discouraging for our techs to feel on edge all the time about potential exposure to the virus, and it can be daunting to deal with the extra work created by making sure the procedure is safe for our clients, too.

Client GiftsThat was why these gestures of kindness and consideration in the form of client gifts are making such a big impact. Our whole organization feels humbled and grateful to be working with and for such generous clients, who take the time to express their appreciation in such concrete and helpful ways. It makes us realize how much community matters. We have tried to help others, and now they are trying to help us. That cycle strengthens us, even as we all deal with our struggles. 

Now we want to share this story as our way of saying thank you. At ComputerCare, we are touched and encouraged to know that we work for such great people. We know you, our clients, have your own set of difficulties and frustrations to deal with, so the fact that these client gifts showed up to thank us for smoothing your path even a little bit really warms our hearts. Our promise is to stay open, offering safe support and service, for as long as the crazy situation lasts.

Stuck at Home with a Broken Device? Not Anymore

        

ComputerCare’s COVID-safe drop-off system is here to help the new WFH warriors

Understatement of the new decade: the situation is really tough right now. Now that the Bay Area and Washington State have locked down to protect us from the spread of COVID-19 (thank you!), so many of us are working from home, trying to keep ourselves and each other safe. But what happens when the phone or laptop that allows you to be a crucial part of the WFH taskforce suddenly develops a problem? If this were a few days ago, when Genius Bars and Geek Squads had all shut down, you’d be stuck. Today, though, ComputerCare has a solution. We are proud to announce the initiation of our completely COVID-safe service process! Outside our offices in Santa Clara and Seattle, we have installed secure drop-off lockers where walk-in clients can now safely deposit their devices for service and repair.

Our New COVID-Safe Service Process

Clients simply need to fill out a service ticket for Seattle or the Bay Area. Your email confirmation will contain COVID-safe drop-off instructions, so you can drive to our Seattle or Bay Area ComputerCare location, find the correct locker and enter the combination code in the padlock to leave your device inside. 

After we diagnose your device, we will contact you to explain the service and, for out-of-warranty repairs, collect your payment method. Then, as soon as your device is ready, we’ll email you to confirm your preferred pick-up date. The day of your scheduled pick-up, you will receive an email with the correct locker and combination. Please note that turn-around times may be slightly lengthened, but we’ll do our best to get it back to you as fast as current circumstances allow!

Our Safety Measures

To safeguard you and our technicians, you will not interact directly with anyone during the drop-off at our lockers. Surfaces will be wiped down by our employees with disinfectant after each use to ensure proper sterilization practices are taking place. Signage will also be posted to remind you to maintain a ten-foot distance from anyone else at the lockers. 

At the same time, to make sure your devices are protected, the padlock combinations will be changed after each use. Phone support will be provided throughout the whole process, updating you on receipt, diagnosis, invoicing, and repair of your device. We can also be reached in case of technical difficulties with the lockers. 

No matter what happens, ComputerCare is going the extra mile to provide the COVID-safe support you need to work from home with all your devices in tip-top condition. If you already need a device repaired or just want more information about your options, visit our information page!

Is There Any Hope If My Computer Won’t Boot?

My Computer Won't Boot
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It’s always a major shock these days if you press your computer’s power button and…nothing happens. Since one of the most common at-home solutions to computer problems is to restart the computer, if you can’t even get it on in the first place, there seems to be little hope of recovery! However, it’s not always a totally lost cause, and even when the computer won’t turn on, a reputable computer repair service like ours can usually still intervene to save the day. Before you bring your device to us, though, here are a few things to investigate.

Power Supply

If your computer or laptop won’t turn on, the problem could always be as simple as a loose plug in an electrical socket or a drained battery. Always check your cord to make sure it’s seated correctly, both in the wall and in your devices power receiver, and if you have a battery-powered device, to give it a little time to charge before trying to turn it on again. If a desktop if plugged in correctly, also check the power-supply switch on the back of the tower to make sure it’s flipped to ‘on.’ If none of these fix the problem and you happen to know you’ve been doing work inside your laptop or computer tower case, it may also be worth checking your internal power cable to make sure it is correctly connected. However, if none of these tricks solve the problem, very likely there is a serious issue with the power supply itself, in which case it’s time to talk to us about a repair

Disk Error

If you can power on the computer but only get an error message about the bootable device, then the problem is a bit more complicated. Either your computer is failing to boot from the harddrive where your operating system is installed, or that harddrive has failed entirely and needs to be replaced. If you are comfortable with accessing the BIOS or Open Firmware of your device to look at the boot order, you can check these problems yourself. On the other hand, if that kind of trouble-shooting feels a bit beyond your paygrade, feel free to contact us for a diagnosis. 

Crash during Boot 

This problem could be caused by either your software or your hardware. We recommend rebooting in Recovery for Macs or running Startup Repair for Windows. This should accurately diagnose any software issues, but if the recovery and repair process fails, then quite likely the problem is rooted in your hardware and you will need expert help like ours to address the difficulty. 

Of course, if you don’t want to deal with any of this, because life is busy or computers are intimidating, we will be happy to help you with any of these concerns for our low diagnostic fee of $49. If a problem does emerge, we waive that fee if you decide to use our services for repairs, so the whole process can be painless and inexpensive for you. Don’t forget to contact us next time your computer won’t boot, as we can always help. 

CES 2020 Happened in January…Let’s Take a Look at the Highlights!

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The world of tech is always changing, and innovators are feeling especially daring at the start of a new decade. That’s why we wanted to give you a look at the new tech unveiled at CES 2020 in January of this year. 

First, let’s talk about the items that we all want to own (whenever they actually appear on the market). There’s the electric bike that operates like a hydrofoil, which means you can ride it on water! There’s also a really cool soundbar from Vizio that isn’t only nice to look at. It also adjusts speaker angles to optimize it for use as part of a home theater or to blast your favorite Spotify playlist.  

Next, there were a couple of tech innovations that might actually make the world a better place. The people behind Impossible burgers came out with a new Impossible Pork. This is key for reducing carbon emissions worldwide, given that pork is the most common form of meat consumed in the most populous parts of the globe. Vegans might even get to enjoy meatless bacon! Another potentially life-changing development for amputees is the BrainCo Dexus prosthetic arm. Controlled directly by the brain and only a quarter of the price of traditional prosthetics, this device could drastically improve the lives of many veterans and persons with other conditions. 

The final area we want to look at is some new tech that might come through ComputerCare’s doors either this year or sometimes in the next decade. We were especially intrigued by Lenovo’s folding ThinkPad. As our customers know, we sell Lenovo products and also provide repair services for Lenovo Think models. Who knows? In the very near future we may be working on repairing one of these cool, convertible, all-in-one folding devices. We stay up-to-date with the latest tech, so if you get your hands on a ThinkPad X1 Fold, don’t hesitate to bring it to us for care and repairs. 

And in the meantime, while we’re still waiting for the tech giants to roll out their new inventions, don’t forget that we’ll take care of your favorite laptop or smartphone or desktop. Our diagnostic fee is just $49, and waived if you choose to repair your device with us. Contact us today for more information.