You be the judge

A regular customer missed the sign on our windows and didn\’t call to hear that we had half days the week after Christmas instead of being closed. Like most who find their daily lives now entangled in the computer world and Internet, he chose not to wait and decided to go to Suncoast computers with his problematic computer instead of waiting for us.  The customer recently brought in the old PC and a new one, thankfully bought from a box-store, instead of Suncoast. He wanted his old data transferred to the new PC and recounted his experience with the other place. With a BSOD (blue screen of death) occasionally happening his system was not working well. They informed him that his computer was shot, having a bad motherboard, memory, and CPU (main brain – processor) and tried to sell him a used computer they had for sale.

Upon trying to connect the old hard drive (storage unit with the data on it) to the new PC, it was discovered that the configuration jumpers were a mirror image (opposite side and upside down) of a good configuration. Unfortunately not only had the drive been configured wrong in that manner, but had been configured to be used as a hard drive with no more than 32GB in size. This would be correct for older Windows like ME and 98 that couldn\’t use more than 32GB, but this was Windows XP and the drive was much larger than 32GB. Once we corrected the jumpers the drive worked properly and the old data was copied to the new PC.

Now we tackled the old PC. It booted up to our test CD and passed all the memory tests. Funny, a computer with a bad motherboard, CPU, or memory is unlikely to boot at all much less run tests successfully and a computer with all three bad would be even less so. So now we tackle the original problem and see that the computer boots up to the Windows screen, but goes black.

Next step is to take a look at the old hard drive files and registry to see why it isn\’t booting past the Windows screen. Usually this can happen after a virus hits so we took a look at the registry specifically to see. The registry is the main database that stores the bulk of the Windows system configurations and software installations and has many places that can start up programs like viruses.

During a standard look through of common registry trees, we discovered something that I have never seen before, and that includes having been done by a virus program or hacker. A main part of the registry had been completely deleted – HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT was gone. In addition to the what else had been found and described by the owner of the PC being done by Suncoast, this last one was very suspect in its purpose.  After we restored the registry from an old copy, the machine worked as good as new again.

Now we at Panther Computers have old PCs donated or abandoned and will rebuild or repair them for resale as time permits. One could see how some places might take on a habit of increasing profit by telling people they have bad equipment, take it in on trade, and sell them an old one they have “refurbished”. If the one traded in is actually good, then now you have another “refurbished” computer to sell to the next person. Paranoia? Not really, you can read my next article that tells how I got into the computer business in the first place. The industry is ripe with hucksters that do this sort of thing frequently, and Panther Computers isn\’t one of them.

As far as Suncoast is concerned, as the title of the article says, you be the judge on whether this was an act of ignorance or intent. Either way, I see it as them being CyberStupid!