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  #1  
Old 07-01-2010, 01:09 PM
MLS MLS is offline
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Geek Squad

How reliable have you found Geek Squad to be?

Two days ago we began getting the Windows XP Black Screen of Death on a home computer. (I won't go into the details, but will elaborate later if warranted.)

After trying all kinds of fixes as suggested by various sites including Norton, Microsoft and others, there is no resolution. The thing will boot up in safe mode, but no farther, and all my efforts are for naught.

I took the box to Geek Squad to at least take a quick look at it. The high-level ten-minute opinion was that the OS is corrupted, probably needs a reinstall of the OS, (they would charge starting at $200 for this service), which would require reinstalling everything from backups. The Geek Agent was of the opinion that, given the extreme age of over 5 years of the machine it would make more sense to just get a new one.

Now, I'm not sure if this guy is likely to be correct that the OS needs to be reinstalled or not. Has anyone else dealt with this company? Is their technical expertise really to be trusted?
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  #2  
Old 07-01-2010, 01:16 PM
nicole1912 nicole1912 is offline
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I don't know how reliable they are - but even if they're right, reinstalling an OS isn't particularly hard, if you have the discs. If you can still boot into safe mode, you can make back-ups of your files, then do the reinstall yourself for much less than $200. I'd try that before buying a new computer - if it doesn't work, then you can go shopping...
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  #3  
Old 07-01-2010, 01:19 PM
running coach running coach is offline
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If you get a new machine, you still need to restore you back up files.

200 sounds very high to just reinstall the OS. That's, what, maybe an hour at most?

It might make sense to get a new machine as 5 years is old( I just replaced a 7 year old) and XP is due to lose support this year.
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  #4  
Old 07-01-2010, 01:21 PM
GESancMan GESancMan is offline
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I've never used Geek Squad, by my impression has always been that they're about on par with the people at Fry's - i.e., kids hired off the street, who know nothing about computers, and given minimal training.
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  #5  
Old 07-01-2010, 01:52 PM
gladtobeblazed gladtobeblazed is offline
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$200 for something that is as simple as inserting a disc and booting from the DVD drive? Incredible. Even making backups should be as simple as plugging in an external hard drive to a USB port and dragging the files you want on to the drive.
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  #6  
Old 07-03-2010, 12:54 PM
MLS MLS is offline
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Thanks for the comments. One problem is that we cannot seem to find the OS install disks that came with the machine. Also Windows has been updated a number of times since the original install, so they would be out of date. I was really hoping to be able to have the thing fixed without the OS reinstall.

I have been able to backup the important docs, pics, etc. onto an external drive, after finally finding one that would write in safe mode. The CD drives don't seem to be working properly.

To provide a little background, the Macafee virus scan wasn't working, and their tech support, up to second level was pretty useless. On my daughter's advice I switched to Norton, which found a thing called Backdoor.inv (or something similar) which it said needed manual removal. Tried their suggested fix, which was basically to disable recovery and run a full scan, which didn't do diddlysquat. Norton tech support went online and over 2 hours accomplished nothing on the original problem, and then ran something called power eraser, which didn't do anything either except remove my photoshop and MS Publisher apps. By this time it was very late, so I had to call it quits for the night. The next morning we got the Black Screen of Death.

This is a desktop, a Dell machine, if it matters.

Anyway, any further advice will continue to be appreciated.

Last edited by MLS; 07-03-2010 at 12:55 PM..
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  #7  
Old 07-03-2010, 01:07 PM
Joey P Joey P is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MLS View Post
Tried their suggested fix, which was basically to disable recovery and run a full scan, which didn't do diddlysquat.
Have you tried using the recovery? If you have a restore point from some point the last few months it might be worth giving it a shot.
Also, check around to see if there's a place on your computer to create recovery discs. I know you said the CD-ROM doesn't work, if your computer can create the discs we can go from there.

And while you're trying to get this one up and running, it won't hurt to start pricing out a new computer. You can find them at Best Buy for anywhere between $600 and $1000 (laptops or desktops with keyboard/mouse/LCD widescreen). On top of that if you use a best buy credit card you'll get 18 months with no interest so you're looking at $40-$60 per month.
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  #8  
Old 07-03-2010, 01:16 PM
MLS MLS is offline
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Ah, but you can't turn recovery mode back on in safe mode.

Yes, we have been pricing around. It creates its own dilemma. Considering that we don't need to buy a monitor, and can probably re-use the current machine's CD drives, the price of a machine to meet our modest needs is not that high, and given its advanced age some hardware or other is likely to break in the near future anyway.
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  #9  
Old 07-03-2010, 05:35 PM
Quartz Quartz is offline
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Black Screen of Death? A quick Google indicates it should be a 5 minute fix. And because it's from a faulty security update, Microsoft will give you free product support in this matter.
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  #10  
Old 07-03-2010, 05:57 PM
MLS MLS is offline
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That's a moot point now. I can't get to the internet on that computer -- I'm reduced to borrowing time on my kids' computer. No downloads or onlines support possible.
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  #11  
Old 07-03-2010, 06:13 PM
Quartz Quartz is offline
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That's a moot point now. I can't get to the internet on that computer -- I'm reduced to borrowing time on my kids' computer. No downloads or onlines support possible.
Safe Mode with Networking doesn't work? You can still apply patches if you transfer them on a USB stick or floppy.
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  #12  
Old 07-03-2010, 10:25 PM
mittu mittu is offline
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In defence of the price you were quoted it can take a very very long time to do a complete format and re-install of the OS. Backing up data can take anywhere from 5 minutes to 5 hours depending on the quantity of data. The actual format and reinstall itself is pretty quick provided you can find the drivers in short order. You then need to restore all the files (5 mins to 5 hours again) and have the arduous task of running all the windows updates which even if you have an offline updater can take hours and hours to complete on an XP machine.

The company I work for does the format and reinstall for $250 AUD which is very reasonable given how long it takes to complete.
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  #13  
Old 07-05-2010, 06:02 AM
Markxxx Markxxx is offline
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The Geek Squad has a set rate. If you do something simple or complex it is gonna cost the minimum rate.

XP is an old system. You can get a new computer for under $500.00. Does it make sense to pay that much to fix an outdated system? Perhaps.

Installing the OS will wipe everything out and return it to scratch. Then you can just let windows apply the update. Have you tried getting a Linux Ubantu Disk or similar disc for free? You can run Ubantu/Linux off the CD to see what's on the computer.

What you may want to do is check Craigslist. A lot of people run computer repair ads. You know out of work people who trying to supplement their unemployment with cash under the table. You might get a deal like that.
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  #14  
Old 07-05-2010, 10:51 AM
magellan01 magellan01 is offline
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I have a warranty at Best Buy for a big TV and other stuff I bout a few months ago. I'm sure some of the Geeks know their stuff, but I think a lot of them are not geeky enough, just a bunch of guys who know more than the average Joe. My experience has not been good. One guy didn't know what the problem was, but had me replace every other component and wire. A subsequent guy in the phone, said he knew precisely what the problem was and would send out a guy. That guy's English was so bad He couldn't get into my building, never mind understand telling him about the complicated issue. Another phone call resulted in a Supervisor promising to call me back. That was almost two weeks. Still no call. So, in my experience, they completely suck.

Last edited by magellan01; 07-05-2010 at 10:51 AM..
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  #15  
Old 07-06-2010, 12:01 PM
MLS MLS is offline
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Thanks for all the advice, again. I'm currently leaning toward just getting a new one. I'm going to give one more try on the safe mode with networking, just to be sure. I've already backed up everything I can.
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  #16  
Old 07-06-2010, 01:12 PM
GargoyleWB GargoyleWB is offline
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For what it's worth, I've had two PCs that Windows XP has died in the same manner. Safe modes would not work or complete booting.

One I "fixed" for free by installing Ubuntu, the other was "fixed" by buying and installing Windows 7. In both cases, my original files were happily waiting to be recovered after installation.

It was a much cheaper fix than Geek Squad prices. unless there is a compelling reason to keep XP, I'd consider it a fine excuse to ditch and move on to a newer OS.
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  #17  
Old 07-06-2010, 02:53 PM
Vinyl Turnip Vinyl Turnip is offline
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Most (all?) Dells sold in the last few years allow you to wipe and reinstall the OS from a recovery partition. Try pressing CTRL + F11 just after powering up the machine and see if you get a recovery menu.
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  #18  
Old 07-06-2010, 03:49 PM
silk1976 silk1976 is offline
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My experience with geek squad extends to a friend calling me up one night asking how we consultants (in the enterprise backup and storage industry) justify how much we charge customers for our services. Long story short, his machine was on the fritz, and Geek Squad said it would be anywhere from like $500 to $2k to recover his files. I dont remember the exact price, but it was exhorbitant.

So my opinion of geek squad is that they are a rip off.
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  #19  
Old 07-06-2010, 03:58 PM
running coach running coach is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by silk1976 View Post
My experience with geek squad extends to a friend calling me up one night asking how we consultants (in the enterprise backup and storage industry) justify how much we charge customers for our services. Long story short, his machine was on the fritz, and Geek Squad said it would be anywhere from like $500 to $2k to recover his files. I dont remember the exact price, but it was exhorbitant.

So my opinion of geek squad is that they are a rip off.
Data recovery from a damaged hard drive is in the range you quoted. It's very involved and takes time with special software.

The OP was talking about moving data from a backup to a new drive. which should be much cheaper.
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  #20  
Old 07-06-2010, 04:10 PM
eno801 eno801 is offline
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at this point I would vote a new machine. I just went through this with my parents old XP dell. I got tired of everything being slow and not working and being callled in to fix it. I found a computer for $350 out the door on clearance at officemax. 4gb of ram a decent athlon X2 processor and windows 7. I can deal with XP on my machines. I keep them lean and updated with no uneeded services running etc., but my parents. With security essentials from microsoft and malwarebytes plus the added horsepower I have not been called in to fix it for a while. Well worth it in my opinion
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  #21  
Old 07-06-2010, 09:24 PM
goldmund goldmund is offline
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No experience with Geek Squad, but 15 years of experience in IT. With corporate IT contracts, the people working in level 1 tech support are almost universally clueless. If they had much of a clue, they'd be working a higher level of tech support, or they'd not be working support at all. The folks at Geek Squad are likely to be even lower on the ladder than this.

That said, occasionally you'll find a gifted person working the "low end" of tech support, Geek Squad, etc, someone with a passion for the field, quite knowledgable, and just trying to get their foot in the door. You'll only get that if you're very, very lucky.

So, the reason they're advocating a reinstall is because that's generally their primary course of action. They know that, barring a hardware problem, your machine will function after a reinstall. So they're not going to spend time troubleshooting. If you do choose to troubleshoot, please post the details your "black screen of death" displays.

So in general, I wouldn't trust them, or pay them to do pretty much anything. If they're not even going to reinstall your apps, restore your backups, etc, don't pay them $200. You can do this yourself. If you do want to reinstall, have a license key, but don't have your original install media, you can call Microsoft and they will provide you with replacement media for a nominal fee, on the order of $10-20 US. However, Windows XP is currently under Extended Support until 2014. This means that the only updates you would receive from Windows Update will be security related, and not bugfixes, performance related improvements, etc. Only security-related bugs will be fixed.

A new machine is a good choice, you can get a machine that will blow away your current machine for a remarkably cheap price. It will come with Windows 7, which is far better than Vista IMHO, and you've already got backups of your data.

Anyway, I've rambled enough, last thing I'll say is, you mentioned a few Antivirus packages. I can't recommend NOD32 enough. It places pretty much no performance hit on your machine ever, and has never missed a virus "in the wild". I've been happily using it as a "set it and forget it" virus software for a while now, have had zero infections, and I'm known to download from some fairly shady sources. It's from http://www.eset.com/
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  #22  
Old 07-07-2010, 09:13 AM
ftg ftg is offline
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While it does take a goodly amount of clock time to reinstall the OS, the actual tech time is quite small. In a store type environment, a tech could be working on 5 or more installs at a time. $200 may be their way of getting the person to either cough up a ridiculous amount of money or buy a new box from them. The customer's needs come last, the store comes first.

OTOH, if the OP didn't have the original disc, maybe the quote includes a new copy of the OS. I don't touch a machine that doesn't have a proper disc of the OS.
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  #23  
Old 07-07-2010, 10:50 AM
Quartz Quartz is offline
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Originally Posted by MLS View Post
No downloads or onlines support possible.
That may not actually matter. They have clever people at Microsoft who may be able to talk you through fixing it. Give them a ring, and after they confirm that it's non-chargable then give it a whirl.
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  #24  
Old 07-07-2010, 12:30 PM
MLS MLS is offline
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We bit the bullet and bought a new machine on the theory that on a machine this old something else would likely go, and we could get more storage and memory anyway.

Thanks for the opinions on Geek Squad. They had been recommended by someone who said they were just wonderful. What's been said here makes a lot of sense.

I also appreciate the advice on the anti-virus. Someone else told me that the Microsoft security software is pretty good, too.
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  #25  
Old 07-07-2010, 01:36 PM
Dangerosa Dangerosa is offline
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I know people who work for BestBuy and know former Geek Squad agents - went for happy hour with three former Geek Squad agents last week. Some of the most talented IT people I know - programmers, developers, project managers - started their careers with Best Buy as Geek Squad.

There are a LOT of Geek Squad agents. Whenever you get a lot people doing a job, you are going to get high variability in that job. A lot of Geek Squad agents are darn talented. Right now, there are, IMO, more talented ones than non-talented ones (its a high turnover job, and with unemployment being high, you don't get into the Geek Squad in most locations without years of corporate IT experience.)

But I agree on the decision just to buy a new PC.
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