When Should You Call The Geek Squad?

Category: Hardware

A frustrated AskBob reader says: 'My computer is running REALLY slow, and I think it might have a virus. There's also a ticking sound inside the computer. I'm not very technical, so I'm thinking about calling the Geek Squad. Do you think that's a good idea?' Read on for my advice to this reader...

Computer Tech Support - Who Ya Gonna Call?

Clocks tick, computers don't. Or at least they shouldn't. When your computer starts running slow, freezes up, or ticks, you have a choice. Computer problems such as viruses & spyware, lost or damaged files, flaky memory, glitching hard drives, or failing power supplies can sometimes be hard to diagnose. Should you try to fix it yourself, or call a computer tech support service like the Geek Squad? Depending on how adventurous and/or geeky you are, there are several things you can do.

If the computer is still under warranty, call the warranty provider. That may be the manufacturer, or a third-party computer tech support company. Be prepared for finger-pointing ("Sounds like a software problem, your warranty covers only our hardware") and possibly long telephone hold times.

Try to fix it yourself using software manuals, household tools, and - if you can get online - diagnosis and repair guides that you find via Google or Youtube. Of course, the AskBobRankin website offers a wide range of advice about fixing many common computer problems, but not everyone is a do-it-yourself type.

computer tech support

You can call your computer-savvy friend or relative. They may or may not be available, or know what they're doing, or be very motivated to spend hours fixing your problem for free.

Call a local computer repair shop. But what kind of computer repair shop? There's the kind that says, "Bring your computer in and we'll take a look at it" just like a car repair shop. Nationwide computer repair shops, including computer vendors, tell you to "mail it in," which can get rather expensive and time-consuming. (You did save all the original packaging, right? Of course not.) There's also on-site service; a repair person comes to your home or business. Then there's the kind of computer repair shop that never looks at your problem in person; instead, they offer to "talk you through" your own repairs. These guys go by different names, too.

Computer help desk services are for when the problem is you. If your computer is fine but you can't figure out how to increase the font size in Microsoft Word, a computer help desk person will tell you over the phone. Such on-demand tutors are also called "computer support" or "computer technical support" services. Large employers have entire departments providing help desk and tech support to employees all day long. Independent computer support services take calls from anyone who can pay.

Computer Repair Services

Computer repair rates are comparable to car repair rates, although the cost of parts is generally lower for computers. Some computer repair shops charge a "diagnostic fee" of $50 - $100 just to figure out what's wrong and tell you how much more the fix will cost. Hourly labor charges for computer repair can run $30 and up.

The Geek Squad popularized computer repair services with million-dollar marketing campaigns and logo-emblazoned company vehicles. Today, The Geek Squad (a service of Best Buy) offers all the types of computer tech support services discussed above, and can assist you with printers, phones and tablets as well.

Basic services like a computer tune-up, initial setup, software installation, printer installation, wifi setup, email setup or password reset start at $39.99. Troubleshooting a virus problem starts at $149.99. Data recovery for lost files or damaged hard drives will run you $250 - $600, depending on the severity of the problem. If you have multiple computers, tablets and other gadgets in your home, you might consider a Total Tech Support membership ($199.99 yearly). Total Tech Support covers all of the above and more, for all of your tech devices.

Office supplier Staples also offers computer repair services. A full range of diagnostic and repair services is available in the store, or at your home/office location. The PC Tune Up for $31 includes PC Performance Improvement, Maximize Internet Speed, Junk File Removal, and Memory Optimization. Computer Setup ($103) includes transfer of data from your old computer, installation of up to three peripherals or software titles, removal of preloaded bloat-ware and connecting to your wifi network. In-store Virus & Malware Removal costs $167, and Data Recovery starts at $122. If the assessment shows no hope of recovery, there is no charge.

Other national companies offer computer repair and computer technical support services, too. GeekBuddy and Boxaid provide remote technical assistance including setup, computer optimization, repair, and virus removal. Both offer a free diagnosis. NerdsOnSite.com is an international network of local computer repair techs who make house calls. They've been providing in-home & on-site computer support since 1995.

All of these services will have computer techs trained to handle the most common computer problems, and should do a good job of fixing your computer.

Have you used Geek Squad or a similar computer repair service? Tell me about your experience, or post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "When Should You Call The Geek Squad?"

(See all 27 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

03 Aug 2022

Tick, tick, tick ... generally an easy problem to diagnose, a bit more difficult to fix.

My diagnosis is that the guy probably does not have a virus (though he may), but his spinning hard drive is failing. The fix is to remove and replace the Hard Drive with an SSD. Not only will it stop the ticking, it will make his computer much, much faster. The problem ... getting his operating system and his files moved from the old drive to the new one.

Most new SSDs come with software to that can move the OS and files over, but the old failing hard drive may have lost many of the old files or corrupted them to a point where the software to move is useless. I would suggest making a backup onto another drive of all the personal files he can, and then either place a fresh Operating System on his new drive himself or have an expert do it for him. He should not have to purchase a new operating system as Windows 10 or 11 should activate automatically on a computer it was on previously. And then he can move his personal files over. He can copy and paste, or he could use software to replicate it such as freeware Karen's Replicator, an old Windows XP software that still works on Windows 11.

At that point, unless there is a virus in his personal files, he should be alright with a computer that runs much, much faster.

Posted by:

Larry T
03 Aug 2022

Have a very astute computer tech who installed Quick Assist on my computer and over the years has done both miner cleanup and major recovery via internet. Very convenient for both of us.

Posted by:

Bob S
03 Aug 2022

Please tell your readers to beware of searches for AT&T or Microsoft, or any other company technical support. I know of at least 4 people who have been hoodwinked into calling a number that tells that person to allow the bogus tech support to access their computer. Fortunately, none of them had anything on their computers worth stealing and at worst ended up with a black screen that a forced power off and then a restart solved. I don't understand how Google searches allow these huskers to show near the top of the searches, but it does. As I'm sure you have advised again and again, no one should allow anyone into their computers unless the absolutely know they can trust them.

As far as letting computer stores fix their computers, the customer better be prepared to sometimes loose all their data and loaded apps. Many computer stores will just restore Windows from scratch, whereby all that information is gone.

Posted by:

03 Aug 2022

The rate you quote for Data Recovery services is very low. Data Recovery for a hard disk from a quality service provider will be a minimum of $500 & can be much greater. As part of the free evaluation service the data recovery company will quote the expected data that can be recovered and their fee.
The local computer service company will likely attempt a recovery for a lower fee. The question is what value do you place on the data you cannot access.

Posted by:

03 Aug 2022

i don't store anything important on my machine, so data recovery is not an issue for me.. but when my machine quits and I cannot fix it, I don't bother with any outside repair services.. I just go buy a "new" refurbished machine.. Its usually better than what I was running, and for a lot less than a geek squad or other repair charge.

Posted by:

03 Aug 2022

Have used Geek Squad for years and am very happy with the service and tech support. Have the total package and when a win 11 update failed and I lost my printer they came to the house and repaired it. Most of the repairs are done over the internet.

Posted by:

04 Aug 2022

Hey Juan,
Where did the GeekSquad find your lost printer?

Posted by:

Mike Davies
04 Aug 2022

A ticking sound in your computer is very possibly a failing hard drive, back it up immediately before it dies.
Then get the old drive replaced and its data moved to the new one.
If you think you gave a virus slowing it down, then run one of the anti-virus programs that Bob recommends on this site.

Posted by:

Ernest N. Wilcox Jr.
04 Aug 2022

I have never had a computer repair service or a technician fix any of my PCs.

I assembled the computer I'm writing this on, and I have done so since my first MS-DOS based IBM compatible PC's hard drive crashed, back in the 1990s. It was a 100MB MFM drive, and by the time it crashed, MFM drives had not been produced for several years, so I couldn't replace it. I had to replace the entire PC. At the time, a new 'store bought' machine was too expensive, so I got some used components from a local computer parts seller, and a computer repair book form a local bookstore, and learned to assemble my first home-brew desktop PC.

Now, when something goes wrong with one of my computers, if I can't work out what's wrong on my own, I pull out my books and start reading. If my books don't lead me to an answer, I start searching the Internet. To date, I have always been able to diagnose the problem and fix it, usually by replacing a cable or a component.

The thing that struck me when I assembled that first PC from used parts was how easy it was to do. Today, I have a book titled "Upgrading and Repairing PCs". It is a newer version of the book I got when I assembled that box from used parts, and it's probably getting to be time to get a newer copy soon. If you work on your own car, or fix your children's bicycles, you can probably learn to assemble/repair your PC, especially if it's a desktop model. If you have a laptop, many manufacturers let you download a service manual (in PDF format) for it. I have the one for my Lenovo Legion 5 laptop, just in case :). It describes the procedures to replace/add any component included in it, so I know where to look, and how to get at whatever is misbehaving when things go wrong. This has worked well for me over the years, but YMMV :),


Posted by:

04 Aug 2022

When I bought my first computer about 15 years ago and knew absolutely nothing about computers, I took my computer to the Geek Squad because the screen dimmed and the Geek Squad said they would have to keep it for about 2 weeks to diagnose the problem. I didn't want to wait that long so looked up info about computer tech. in the yellow pages and found one in my neighborhood and said all I had to do was go to the power options. I found my computer tech. Geek Squad should be ashamed of themselves.

Posted by:

04 Aug 2022

I am glad that I have become good with working with computer hardware, software, and operating systems. Because of my IT experience, I tend to do most hardware and software work on my own. In those specific cases, where I do not have all of the tools and resources, I use a local shop with competent technicians.
When should I call Geek Squad? NEVER!

Posted by:

04 Aug 2022

Reading the comments above I recognize most of the readers here have an advanced level of computer skill. The average computer user who has an issue does not have the knowledge to troubleshoot beyond very basic failures. The other class of computer users who take their computers for service are those who do not have time to troubleshoot a failure or issue.

When I read the title of the article & with the reference to "Geek Squad" I immediately questioned why Bob referred to only 1 computer service company. Bob you should have disclosed financial gain from referring to the Geek Squad in this article.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Dave, did you read the article or just the headline? I mentioned FIVE computer service options. And I have no affiliation or potential gain from any of them.

Posted by:

04 Aug 2022

Can I just put in a word of warning.

As has been said it's the same type of area as car repairs.

Only deal with independent traders or branches of national traders when recommended by people you trust.

AND if any repair person sucks air through their teeth and says 'I'm not sure but it sounds expensive' - run a mile.

Getting older I could tell a lot of horror stories and an equal number of good trader stories.

The one piece of hard earned information I would tell any computer owner is that the cost of computing doesn't end with buying the machine.

My first computers were pre internet and I have decades of user experience. I used to build my own (and it is as simple or simpler than Lego). The amount of work and research that has to be done is directly proportional to the amount of hard work and research done to find cures and keep things safe.

A decade or so ago I got (and paid for) PC matic and my computing has consisted of far more enjoyment and far less hassle since. I recommend it to everyone.

I have two friends who regard paying the cost of any anti virus let alone PC matic as too much. Either could have bought a cheaper computer without a brand name and covered the lifetime subscription. Both go from one problem to another, paying mega bucks to 'experts' for fixes. need I say more?

P.S. At least now I can just say I have no idea have you tried PC Matic instead of spending hours (even days) completely re-installing everything from scratch for one friend.

Posted by:

Norman Rosen
04 Aug 2022

I started using computers in thee 80's, built my first computer in the 90's, and helped my grandson build his first computer 10 years ago. I agree it isn't that hard to do. I also use PC Matic to keep my machine running smoothly (for some 20 years or so, I think). But many people are not that comfortable with technology. My brother is 88 and has been using the Geek Squad for years. He is fortunate that the Geeks he deals with have been competent.

Posted by:

06 Aug 2022

When I have computer issues, I usually call the Nerd Herd. Excellent customer service, and will work with government secure level computer equipment. Primary tech may come with associates that are armed. ;

Posted by:

dba sTEVE
06 Aug 2022

Here in central Illinois, we have a store that sells used PCs. They also do service. Prices are CHEAP. Quality is GREAT. Repair parts for PCs bought there are FREE if they have one in stock (used parts).

Company name is BLH. They also recycle all sorts of electronics.

Why isn't this model repeated all across the country?

Posted by:

Bob K
08 Aug 2022

Hi Bob,

You have listed some helpful services, however you have never bothered to answer the poor chaps question. “Should I call the GeekSquad?”

Posted by:

Robert van Ruyssevelt
09 Aug 2022

I use a local small business with a "no fix no fee" deal. They have never failed to fix the problem and fees are reasonable ($100 - $150 depending on parts). My first port of call is google and I can usually fix most problems myself including e.g. replacing the power supply but anything tricky I take to the shop.

Posted by:

Mission Repair Centre
29 Nov 2023

I read this post your post so nice and very informative post thanks for sharing this post

Posted by:

Mission Repair Centre
29 Nov 2023

I read this post your post so nice and very informative post thanks for sharing this post

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