NEW! OIT's Walk-In Center can help repair students' personally-owned laptops and desktops!
Many hardware and software problems can be diagnosed and repaired right here on campus. Find out more about the OIT Walk-In Center, including services available and hours of operation.
Here are other methods of obtaining computer repairs:
Is your computer under warranty?
If your computer is under warranty, first visit the manufacturer's support Web site or the OIT Walk-In Center. If the Web site is unhelpful, or you're not sure what to search for, try contacting the manufacturer's technical support department via e-mail or telephone. Ask if they provide on-site repairs. For a list of links to companies, see Computer Manufacturers' Support. If the problem is with a component or peripheral that did not originally come with your computer, see Computer Component and Peripheral Manufacturers' Support.
What if it's not under warranty?
Even if your warranty has expired, check the company's support Web site. Many vendors have extensive databases, as well as free user support forums, and you will often be able to determine the cause of the problem and the recommended solution. For a list of links to companies, see our page on Computer Manufacturers' Support. If the problem is with a component or peripheral that did not originally come with your computer, see our page on Computer Component and Peripheral Manufacturers' Support.
What if I need to take it to a repair shop, or have non-warranty on-site service?
Contact one or more of the computer repair services in the local area. Ask about:
- estimate of cost and time needed for repairs
- warranty on repairs
- labor rates
- availability and cost of parts
- on-site service
- return, repair and replacement policies
If a service shop or retail store makes repairs or installs hardware or software for you, verify that everything is working properly by asking them to perform an operational demonstration of your computer before you leave the store. The same practice should apply for on-site repairs.
General Troubleshooting and Recovery:
Use a systematic approach to determine whether problems are a result of hardware, software, network or configuration options. The following will help you prevent and resolve problems:
- If you notice general sluggishness or errantic behavior, try running an antivirus scan on your computer.
- If you are receiving unusual or serious error messages, write them down. Take care to write down as much information as possible about the error, since technical support staff can typically diagnose problems more easily when they are provided with more information about a problem.
- Run any diagnostic or troubleshooting utilities provided by your computer's manufacturer. If you need assistance, contact the vendor's support web site or telephone their technical support.
- If you have recently installed new hardware or changed your configuration, make sure all settings are correct. Visit the hardware vendor's web site or call their technical support if necessary.
- If you have recently installed new software, verify that there were no errors during the installation process, and that all the settings and options are correct. In some cases, uninstalling the software and rebooting your computer may correct unusual problems. However, some uninstallation software will not remove all traces of the program from your computer. Visit the software vendor's Web site or call their technical support for assistance.
- If you think the problem is network-related, contact your Internet Service Provider for support.
Preventive Maintenance Suggestions:
Many non-hardware repairs can be prevented with regular maintenance and care. Here are a few suggestions that can help keep your computer running fast and error-free:
- Be sure that the latest version of antivirus and its latest updates are installed on your computer and that scans are performed at least once a month. NC State University provides a free copy of antivirus software to all university students, faculty, and staff members.
- Make sure that your computer software is kept up-to-date. Turn on Automatic Updates in Windows, to insure that you receive regular software patches from Microsoft. Users of Mac OS X should make sure that Software Update notifications are enabled. Other programs, such as Mozilla Firefox, will usually provide pop-up messages when updates are available.
- Occasionally review the software programs that you have installed on your computer. If you no longer use a piece of software, consider uninstalling it. Since some programs include components that run in memory even when you're not actively using the product, you might improve the performance of your computer.
- Many problems can be avoided by restricting access to your computer and using it in a secure manner. See Safe Computing at NC State and ResNet Security.
- Perform routine backups of your files on a storage medium separate from your hard drive (e.g., CD-RW, external hard drive, USB thumbdrive, on-line disk storage service, etc.). You can either make copies of your files by hand, or use a backup software utility to assist you.
- If you have more advanced backup needs, consider using a disk image imaging product (e.g., Acronis, Symantec Ghost, Retrospect, SuperDuper!, Apple Disk Utility or Time Machine). Use it on a scheduled basis or times when you change your hardware or software configuration. If you're willing to learn how to use one, a backup and disk image utility can save time and effort if you have to restore your computer system or files.
- Store your original software packages, licensing information, back-up files and disk images in a safe place. You may also wish to create copies of installation discs, in case your originals become lost or damaged.