Students can avoid, service repairs for broken computers

Photo illustration by Claire Boston

By McKenna Middleton | Opinion Editor

Laptops provide students with convenient, reliable access to technology — until they don’t. Computer crashes and issues can come at the worst times, especially when students rely on their laptops to do homework and keep documents safe.

Baylor offers resources to students facing personal computer issues through the ITS Help Desk, TechPoint and the Technology Repair Center at the Baylor Bookstore. Each resource helps students with computer problems in unique ways.

Carl Flynn, director of marketing and communications for information technology and university libraries, said there are steps students can take to prevent computer crashes.

“For instance, we encourage students to use anti-virus software and keep it up to date. This best practice minimizes the risk of a computer intrusion that could cause data loss. We also encourage students to protect their hardware from data loss as a result of theft,” Flynn said.

He added that students should back up important files on the free Box storage service in case of data loss. Even with these precautions, computer crashes are still a possibility.

“Unfortunately, there are not usually clear indicators or warning signs that a computer crash is coming on, and because we are dealing with hardware that will always, eventually break down, it is difficult if not impossible to have a 100 percent foolproof preventative plan,” Flynn said.

Baylor ITS Help Desk serves students through a helpline that students can call (254-710-4357). For more immediate support, students can visit the TechPoint help desk, located on the Garden Level of Moody Memorial Library in the Study Commons.

Andrew Telep, assistant director for learning spaces and media services for Baylor University Libraries, said the role of TechPoint has evolved as the amount of students with their own devices has reached almost 100 percent. When hiring student workers to staff TechPoint, most hires are from engineering or computer science backgrounds and enter the position with a certain level of expertise and innate interest in technology.

Telep said the TechPoint staff gets questions ranging from PawPrints and AirBear to more complicated computer repair inquiries.

“We will coach and consult, but not do repairs,” Telep said. “For free, a student can come and get consultation with us … We can be pretty good at helping diagnose and giving the student an idea of whether it’s something they can do on their own or maybe a computer savvy friend can for them or whether they really need to get professional support from the bookstore.”

If a student’s computer issues require professional interference, they can take it to the bookstore’s Technology Repair Center.

The Technology Repair Center is a licensed AppleCare and Dell repair shop, but also services other devices except for mobile devices like cell phones and tablets. As such, it can provide warranty coverage service free of charge for qualifying Dell and Apple laptops and desktops. Technology Repair Center Apple repair technician Chris Swindell said the center focuses on hardware and operating system repairs. The bookstore offers a wide range of services, and cost depends on the particular diagnosis and repairs.

“If we can solve your issue at the door without an extended diagnostic there is no cost,” Swindell wrote in an email to the Lariat. “For other devices and those out of warranty there is a check-in/diagnosis fee of $40. This fee contributes towards any labor performed by us in the bookstore once the diagnosis is complete and we have a summary of components/work needed to make your device whole again.”

Since the start of the spring 2018 semester, 800 laptops and desktops have been serviced by the bookstore, Swindell said. Most common issues include failed operating system updates, damaged or cracked screens and liquid spills on devices, Swindell said.

“There is no difference (other than saving a trip to Austin or Dallas) between bringing your in-warranty Dell, iMac or MacBook here versus an Apple store or Dell Depot,” Swindell said. “The repair is created via the same repair network used by both companies as we are an Apple Authorized Service Provider and Dell Certified Service Partner.”

Diagnostics often take a few hours, but the duration of repairs varies on a case-by-case basis. For example, single issue repairs can often be serviced within 24 to 36 hours but other repairs may take longer, Swindell said.

Students can then utilize TechPoint’s services through its technology circulation initiatives. Typically, a student can only loan a computer from TechPoint for up to two days at a time. However, Telep said students are eligible for longer-term loans while the bookstore’s Technology Repair Center works on their device.

“We’ve got a neat partnership with them to allow anyone who’s left their laptop there for service to come here with a ticket and get a loan from us for a longer period than our checkouts normally last,” Telep said.