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As PCs age you enounter "The Dead PC" from time to time. Long ago I even owned a PC repair shop and learned a lot from the experience. But fast forward to today.

While I know a bit about PC design something of a mystery to me is why folk have been pushing back on a common cheap thing to try on dead machines. Pop in a new CMOS battery.

I could go on why this can cause a PC to hang but here if it's the usual CR2032 we buy these in bulk for the office at 25 cents USD each. It's a dollar part most everywhere here.

Why do people push back on this thing to try? Do they really want to incur a shop counter charge to test the 25 cent part? I think they don't get it that past a few years these can deplete and cause a machine to hang on power up.

And yes, we add a 1/2 hour diagnostic fee to the bill if they want the battery tested. That's 75 bucks USD. High but they did ask for that.

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Last Post by Reverend Jim
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By people do you mean the general unwashed masses? If so - it's because they are intimidated, or unsure of their ability to diagnose. It's something so small and trivial to you, but remember - 10 years ago or so something that is trivial to you today may have been daunting or frustrating to you.

It can also be a policy thing - does the cost of a new mobo + installation compare against the cost of that same person doing a full sweep hardware test just to find out they need new hardware? Is it worthwhile to invest in new hardware to leverage potential future upgrades?

It's also cultural - for a good portion of the world (thanks to Apple, and Co.) planned obsolesence is a thing - and people have just gotten used to their hardware breaking and figuring it's time for new hardware because that's just how it is.

Of course, this is all conjecture... some people are just lazy :-/

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@ryantroop. I've had this pushback from all sorts of folk. From the unwashed that don't know how trivial and cheap this is to engineers that want proof it will fix the machine. You could prove it's an possible cause with a Volt meter but we charge to do that. 75 bucks to prove it? Don't they get it that we want to pop in the dollar (retail) battery and if it fixes it send them on their way? Nope about half don't get that.

A car analogy could be "My tire is flat." And I start by putting in air. "NO!!!, I want you to find out why."
Fine, without trying to add air you want the tire removed and inspected? Sure. Or do you want us to just install 4 new tires just to be sure?
I bet one in ten now go for all new tires.

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...I dislike your analogy... if the tire is flat, there is a reason. If it was fine yesterday, tires don't tend to spontaneusly deflate with the sole need being more air (rapid temperature changes aside, but then you have tire pressure to worry about)...

A mechanic will be better suited to figure out if the tire has a puncture (because the nail/object was ejected and now there is an invisible hole), the wheel rim is bent, or the leak is caused by some other malfunction - and yes, as a service, a mechanic will know more about what to look for immediately while I (or the masses) will have to research it or gain that knowledge from first hand experience. Remember - not all IT staff are made equally; you and I seem to have a similar skillset: I program for a living, but there was a time when I built custom gaming rigs and sold them. Having access to that kind of experience is not afforded to the guy who writes JavaScript/CSS all day, who has never seen a motherboard because he works exclusively on Apple products except for his one test PC that is having a mobo failure.

Maybe if it didn't cost $75 to use a voltimiter (but again, you are charging for your experience using a tool to diagnose, and charging for your expertise, not the activity) you would get people more willing to allow you to try less aggressive measures - like I said, the "figure out what's wrong" process + the potential for replacement anyway out-costs the "just go ahead and replace it" for $125 and gurantee that it will work.

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Having re-read your post, I would also say that it depends on the mechanic. If 1 tire is flat and immediately they are pushing for 4 new tires without justification (and sound justification) then they are taking you for a ride... same goes in the PC world. It can also be experience of that particular mechanic, or in our case techinician... if every time they got to the point where a board is dying from a bad CMOS, they had to do a full board exchange shortly after - they will eventually get in the habit of just recommending a full board exchange.

Edited by ryantroop: spelling, additional ponderance...

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My analogy is flawed. I admit that. The folk that have pushed back are increasing as time goes on. I can't understand why outside of they just want a sure fix.

As you did work building the PCs you know that a dead PC can be from almost every part of the PC. Even the case as you find extra standoffs shorting out the motherboard.

As to the 75 bucks it's mostly there to let us give the person some pause and let us pop in the dollar battery and if it fixes it, send them on their way with a minimal charge on the ticket. We hope they'll remember us for not taking them to the cleaners. To really test the CR2032 is detailed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMQI5R79lx4 I think I've only done that a few times over the years so you can see why we charge for a full up test.

Back to physcology. My guess is they already went to a few shops and got told "it's the motherboard" with all the charges that entails.

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Its possible. It's also possible that my original thought is true as well - consumers have been trained to just accept "I need a new one" and that's that.

Who knows. I hear your frustration... but... if it keeps you in business and it makes the world go round... why complain? If you can take their broken parts and make them work for someone else, donate those machines and give someone who otherwise wouldn't have access to a computer a chance to be part of the internet and world at large...

I don't know what the laws are for re-using old parts for new builds or donating, etc... but it's something you can look in to for sure, and then you won't have a bunch of eWaste just burning a hole in a landfill somewhere.

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RE: tire analogy, I can see whan a tire is flat. I can't see when a CMOS battery is dead. Also, CMOS batteries last for years so I would imagine most people would opt for a newer, faster computer when faced with a possible couple of hundred for a repair bill. Some people, like my father-in-law, are just looking for an excuse to get a newer computer.

Personally, I still have an old IBM ThinkPad from 2004 that I keep running even though the hinges are toast (the lid is epoxied into position). Of course, I also have a new laptop. I'm not completely dim.

Edited by Reverend Jim

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