Building and Refurbishing That Old PC

This week I undertook two small jobs, one for my dear mother who desperately needed her PC upgraded so that she can once again enjoy surfing the web and happily keeping in touch with everyone through email, and then a new server for a friend whose business has switched from a walk-in to on-line retail. While working full-time with my day job (actually it is a night job) I built these two machines during my off-time. Both machines had their challenges.

First, my mother’s machine, a simple P.C. tower (Micro ATX form factor) had a problem where after I stalled a new upgraded main board into it, I lost power. I used a faster CPU and a fresh stick of DDR3 RAM (4Gs) as part of the upgrade, but when I initially started the machine, nothing happened. It took about four hours of trouble shooting to fix and repair the problem. It turned out that the back support on the tower had a slight bend, just enough to just touch the back of the main board causing a short. This was the first time that I have ever encountered such a problem. But my trouble shooting techniques paid off, because I know many who would have taken the circuit board back for a refund, and just given up on it. Once the main board was fixed, the tower and operating system was finished in just a few hours after that.

Second, the server for my friend’s business went flawless. This machine took a little more time to build, and of course, a lot more money went into it. The total cost of his system, was just under $2k, and about 6 hours of labour on my part. Had he retailed this unit, he would be easily looking at a bill of around $6k for a completed system of this size. I had no issues ounce I put all of the components together. Only the integration onto his network is where I ran into trouble. This where I charge huge amounts of money for. He wanted a lot of work done on it, more or less all of his office software patched into it, plus a multitude of sales, CAD, web software on broad and running locally. I discouraged him from asking me when I presented my hourly rate–I really did not have the time–and he wanted it done cheap. I just promised him a running server–that was all–nothing more.

Both my mother and my friend saved a lot of money on their hardware. I estimated that my mother saved about $600.00 for her upgraded system with just three new parts replaced and installed, and my friend’s saving to about $3k had he bought a boxed unit.

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