Computer Repair Technician Taking the Easy Way Out – The Wipe and Reinstall Fix

Computer Repair FrustrationThis "syndrome" in the computer repair industry ranks near the top of my frustration list of practices by some computer repair technicians.

I am referring to the practice of a few unprofessional computer repair technicians, and even some big company franchises, taking the easy way out to fix a computer by telling the customer that they have to wipe the hard drive and reinstall everything.
Hi, I am Bill Arnoldi, owner of FireBall Tech Computer Repair in Tucson, Arizona. In my mind, I am still trying to figure out how someone can call wiping and reinstalling a "fix" for any computer repair problem. On my list of remedies, that is my last resort. Generally it kind of leaves me feeling a bit defeated. But, since I rarely have to ever do that, I think only 3 or 4 times in the last 18 years, it is not a big issue for me.

So why do so many computer repair technicians find it so easy to resort to destroying the customer's data and wiping their hard drive as a solution to a computer repair problem? Here are a few of the reasons.

  1. They really do not know how to fix the problem. This is the number one reason. Most of the time this is the computer repair approach most often used by technicians that have little experience in actually troubleshooting and fixing computers, You know who they are. Its the guy, often barely out of high school, that grew up playing with computers and built his own gaming system so he thinks he is an expert at repairing computers, or the person that home studied the certification books and proceeded to get a certificate because he answered all the question right on a piece of paper. Any way it goes, they just don't have the computer repair experience and this is their only solution. What is worse is they are taking advantage of the customer that is trusting their "expert" conclusion that this is the ONLY solution to their problem, often leaving the customer with a feeling of regret for not having backed up all their data, documents and pictures and losing them because of the reinstall.
  2. Time and money equals profits. It takes longer to troubleshoot and attempt remedial actions on a computer with complicated problems. Often a consumer is looking for the best price for the computer repair. In order to remain competitive and maintain a volume of business, a computer repair company may resort to the wipe and re-install of a computer because it takes significantly less time than actually resolving the issue. Thus, they can make more money by taking the fastest route to getting the computer up and running again. Again, not usually in the customer's best interest because they end up generally losing their data and having to reinstall all of their software applications on their own.
  3. Laziness. This comprises a little of both of the above plus a poor attiude, but is really self-explanatory. The computer repair tech or the company philosophy is to take the easy way out, avoid possible complications, get the computer out the door repaired, and do so with the least effort, time and expense. It is a "repair mill" mentality. In general, they just don't care about the customer. Rather, it is all about whatever is easiest and most profitable. Again, the customer becomes an innocent victim of unprofessional business attitudes and practices.
A comment response by a self-proclaimed computer repair guru on a forum posting by another newbie  technician asking "What’s a good turnaround time on computer repair for consumers?" read the following: "It really depends on clientel, If you want to do this in a full time extent, you should be able to do this in about 8 – 12 hours. If you just reimage the computer it shouldn't take more than 2 hours." I guess we know how he operates. A true computer repair technician can resolve nearly any problem without resorting to wiping a hard drive and reinstalling the operating system, also referred to as reimaging a computer. A technician with a genuine concern for the customer's best interest will use everything in their arsenal to fix a problem before resorting to a total reimaging of a computer system. In my own Tucson computer repair company, I can site multiple instances wherein a customer brought a computer to me because they were told by another computer repair person that it was necessary to reimage the customer's computer resulting in total loss of their data, only to find that indeed, it could be fixed without any loss. Yes, sometimes it costs more than reimaging a system due to the longer computer repair processes, but the customer more often than not would rather pay a bit more than lose all their data, and all too often, their precious libraries of family memories on the computer in digital pictures.

My advice to consumers is to ask around and check the reputation of the computer repair tech. Don't be gullible and easily accept a computer repair technician's assertion that a total wipe and reinstall of the hard drive is required.

Drill them on the reasons why it is necessary, and what the alternatives are. At the very least, always tell a computer repair person or company that they should contact you for authorization before wiping your hard drive and reimaging your computer. Be aware as well, that many of the large franchise operations use a business model wherein a series of mandated minimal troubleshooting steps are undertaken before the company policy dictates a complete reinstall of the computer is required for computer repair problem resolution.
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