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?

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…

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.

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.

$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.

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 Also Windows has been updated a number of times since the original install, so they would be out of date.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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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:p. 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