Frequently Asked Questions

Still got questions? On this page, I have compiled a number of questions I frequently receive about both my services and computers in general. Be sure to check out the list below to see if any of the items address your situation.

General Triple-S Service Questions
How much do you charge for <insert service here>?
Do you accept credit card payments?
How long will it take you to solve my problem?
Do you offer rush service?
Do you work weekends?
Do you offer a satisfaction guarantee?
How do I know whether to trust what techs try to sell me?
I hear you're the best there is at virus removal. What's the story?

Basic Tech Support Questions
I think I might be infected. How can I tell and what should I do?
What's the risk if I remain infected?
Why can't I simply scan and remove these infections?
A fake antivirus program keeps alerting me, and I can't get rid of it.
Help! I can't even get into Windows.
My computer keeps crashing and I can't figure out why. Any advice?
I think my hard drive may be failing! Can you help?
I've got a dead computer, but I need my data. What can I do?

How much do you charge for <insert service here>?

My pricing is transparent and no-nonsense.

  • I charge zero markup on parts.
  • I stock almost nothing to reduce the incentive to sell you outdated or less-than-ideal solutions to your problems.
  • Nearly everything is a simple hourly rate to keep it as straightforward as possible.
  • I limit my charges to a maximum labor charge on every specific task.

For much more specific information, be sure to check out the Services page.

Do you accept credit card payments?

Yes, but there is a small processing fee to cover the cost. I accept all credit card payments, including VISA, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover.

The processing fees are as follows:

  • $3 for any swiped transaction up to $150
  • $4 for any phone/keyed transaction up to $150
For transactions higher than $150, the fees are also higher.

Of course, I also accept cash and checks, with no fees!

How long will it take you to solve my problem?

Of course, the answer to this depends on the nature of the problem itself. However, I can tell you that in most cases, I'm finished with a PC within three business days. I'm quick, but I'm also a bit of a perfectionist. No matter what the issue, if you bring the PC to me, you'll receive a complimentary "mini tune-up," which is—to be perfectly honest—more or less my way of saying I'm going to speed/clean up your PC just because it drives me nuts not to fix and optimize everything I touch that has a keyboard. Once you meet me you'll understand.

If you'd still like more clarification about how long it might take me to solve your problem, of course, you can always email or call me.

Do you offer rush service?

I do offer rush service when possible for those individuals (and most frequently businesses) who require it. I understand that it's tough—nearly impossible for some people—to be without a PC for even a few days, and because of that, I decided a few years ago that it would be good to provide the opportunity to prioritize your service over that of the rest of the bunch for a flat rate extra.

When you pay for rush service, essentially I spend every moment possible working on your machine alongside whatever others are currently at the top of my stack. The way it works is that only if I'm able to complete the work more quickly are you responsible for the additional fee. The costs for rush service are:

  • 24-hour turnaround: $100 extra flat rate
  • 48-hour turnaround: $50 extra flat rate

If you pay for a 24-hour turnaround and it is not possible for me to complete the work that quickly, provided I'm able to complete it within 48 hours, the fee simply drops to $50. If the work cannot be completed within 48 hours, there's no additional fee at all—even though I've still prioritized your machine!

Do you work weekends?

Sometimes, but don't bank on it. I try my hardest to spend time with the family during off-hours, though since this is also my hobby, I work whenever I've got a few minutes.

Similar to rush service, I do sometimes also offer weekend turnaround service. This means you drop off on a Friday before noon and pickup on Monday before noon. The cost is the same as the 48-hour turnaround rush service cost at $50 flat extra, and the same rules apply: if I attempt it and can't get it done in time, there's no additional charge at all.

Do you offer a satisfaction guarantee?

You must not have talked to anyone who's used me before if you're worried about this. ;-)

I'm kidding, I'm kidding. The short answer is yes, of course. In keeping with the industry trends, if you're unhappy with anything I do for you, I'll be more than happy to perform the service again for you at no cost within 90 days.

The slightly more robust answer is that I have literally never to date had an unhappy customer to my knowledge. I try to make it a point to ask people what they thought of my help after I'm done. The response is always positive—which is good for me considering that I rely almost entirely on customer referrals for business growth.

The universal catch

The big qualifier here, of course, is that computers are very complicated devices. Hard drives fail extremely frequently, parts fry seemingly spontaneously, and there are a host of possibilities for software problems (i.e., infections, driver corruption, etc.) that can lead to problems. I'm assuming you already understand this, but no technician can ever guarantee you unconditionally that everything is going to be fine precisely because of this. The good news about me, however, is that I am brutally honest with my customers about the condition of their equipment, and if there is an unexpected problem when it's in my hands, I'm generally your best shot at solving it.

If you're still concerned about your system before coming to me with it, drop me a line and I can talk you through your questions. I've done this stuff for long enough that I can generally provide a reliable estimate as to what the risks might be.

How do I know whether to trust what techs try to sell me?

It's easy when you use me. How come? Because I don't make any money off the stuff I sell. I don't mark anything up; I sell services (labor) only. If we happen to need parts and I don't have them on hand, we'll order them over the phone together and generally have them the next day (I have affordable options at hand that make this cost-effective). The order will be in your name, and the product will be yours. You pay what it costs, and I see none of it.

Smart, huh?

I hear you're Louisville's best at virus removal. What's the story?

I usually don't get this question because most people who come to me have already heard from their friends how I work. Besides the fact that I'm easily among the most affordable experienced computer technicians in the area, there's much more to consider than the simple flat-rate cost.

Fact is, my method of disinfection is one of the most effective possible. I have personally performed thousands of PC disinfections to date. I'm extremely quick but equally thorough. I am exceptionally good.

What they do (and why you pay too much for it)

For starters, let me let you in on a little secret: for all their strengths, most technicians simply don't know how to properly disinfect a computer.

Here's what you get when you call 90% of techs:

  1. A so-called offline scan is run to remove the threats from outside of the host operating system. This requires no real expertise on the part of the technician; the scanner and related tools do all of the work. It also takes a few hours at minimum.

  2. The tech boots back into the OS and evaluates operation. He then assumes the PC is clean, takes your money, and goes onto the next disinfection.
Problem is, virus scanning programs are not infallible (and it's also why you'll probably find yourself infected at some point even if you have the best protection available). While most security programs make use of behavioral scanning (heuristics) to identify threats which are not perfectly catalogued by their definitions/signatures, this doesn't always work, either.

Uh-oh

One of the main reasons why this is becoming more and more of an issue is the sophisticated nature of the malware. Much of modern malware is extremely cutting-edge; many are updated on a daily basis as their criminal authors make a lot of money stealing personal information (and selling it) and/or doing business with unsavory companies willing to invade your PC to advertise.

The most dangerous threats can morph their code with every installation (called polymorphism), self-encrypt, disperse themselves across several (or even hundreds of) files, and even load code beyond the normal filesystem.

Still others actually patch all files of a particular type and infect them in the vein of a traditional virus—but they do so polymorphically, making detection extremely difficult from offline, and often hidden by what's called a rootkit from within the host OS. These threats are very difficult to detect and are not always neutralized by an offline scan. Unless you're an absolute expert, you can forget about removing anything this sophisticated.

The most dangerous of all threats these days are called kernel-mode rootkits. They're also surprisingly common (I remove one in probably one out of every four or five disinfections I perform). Commonly, these infections patch system files to load malicious code along with the critical Windows components.

Many "experts" simply give up and reformat when faced with a kernel-mode rootkit (ever been told by an "expert" to reformat?). I don't. Many others scan and remove all obvious threats but miss the rootkit entirely. Again, I don't.

What I do

My methods are entirely different.

I have a proprietary toolkit which I deploy to perform disinfection. It starts with a manual removal of all malicious software from the obvious Windows loading points. I then personally inspect the folders related to the threats to remove any problem files—again, using specially-developed tools. I also closely examine your system files to ensure they have not been compromised.

All of this work is performed with specialized analysis tools close at hand to help me identify any threats which might be missed by traditional disinfection methods. Typically when I'm finished with my thorough hands-on methods (which rely on decades of experience in the field), I then run a cleanup scan with particular utilities to tidy up the remaining malware mess.

On multiple occasions I have had people bring me computers which have been "thoroughly disinfected," only to discover a dangerous kernel-mode rootkit hiding within a patched system file, cloaking and/or downloading other threats which are meant to steal personal information and send it to the program's authors.

I am an expert in this field, plain and simple. If you bring your PC to me, you can rest assured it will be disinfected in the most effective and thorough way possible. There is simply no one better in the area at this.

Not just disinfection

Once I'm finished with the initial disinfection, I also perform a mini tune-up on the computer. This includes startup optimization (manual traversal of the Windows loading points to ensure unnecessary software isn't bogging you down), temporary files cleanup, and if you choose, the installation of excellent software that will help prevent reinfection and save you money down the road.

Most customers choose to have a full-scale tune-up performed alongside the disinfection, as much of the work overlaps. This includes the installation of all critical Windows security updates, file/registry permissions resetting to correct any malware-corrupted permissions, additional startup optimization, critical device driver updates and more.

The bottom line

You choose who disinfects your computer. If you have been referred to me, you've probably already heard all about how I go the extra mile with my work. If not, just know that once you've hired me once, you'll wonder where I've been all this time. :-)

I think I might be infected. How can I tell and what should I do?

I don't want to alarm you, but infections these days can be quite dangerous, especially if they are allowed to propogate unchecked. If you suspect you might be infected and your current security solution is not able to correct the problem, it's extremely important to contact an expert as soon as possible.

Some signs of a possible infection include:

  • Slow or erratic behavior
  • Pop-up ads
  • Warnings from security software
  • Fake warnings from fake security software
  • Crashes and "blue screens" (Stop Errors)

Disinfection, prevention, and security happens to be my specialty. I'm heavily trained in the area and I can remove even the toughest infections without reformatting. Many techs reformat when they encounter a tough infection, primarily because they don't really know how to fix it. When you reformat, you lose your data and installed programs. I almost never reformat.

If you need advice or disinfection, simply contact me. If you bring it to me, the cost is my usual hourly rate of $76/hr to have the infection removed. Thanks to my level of experience, generally it doesn't take me longer than two hours; I only charge for the time I actively spend tending to the PC; unmonitored scan times and similar are not counted.

What's the risk if I remain infected?

The primary purpose of most infections today to make their criminal authors money. Many of them do this by generating unwanted ads on your PC. A huge percentage of infections, however, also steal personal information and send it to the authors for sale on the black market. The data such "information stealing trojans" collect includes:

  • Full name, email address, and sometimes phone number and physical street address
  • IP address
  • Passwords, including banking passwords stored in your browser cache
  • Credit card numbers
  • Bank account information
  • Social Security Numbers and other highly sensitive data
  • Browsing habits and web site history

Still others can actually corrupt or delete personal data or even critical system files that are necessary to run your computer. By remaining infected, you could be compromising the safety of your PC, your personal information, or even your identity. It's very important to have an expert remove persistent infections for your safety.

Why can't I simply scan and remove these infections?

Ah, yes, the good old days. It used to be that you could simply boot into Safe Mode, run your virus scanner or a specialized removal utility such as Spybot Search & Destroy, and be rid of your infection. No longer, sadly, as the authors of such malicious software have become highly skilled over the years at protecting their code from the threat of removal.

Without getting too technical, most infections these days employ sophisticated self-protection mechanisms that specifically target your security software and prevent it from removing them. Even if you install another program, the infection will likely detect its installation and strip it of its abilities to detect and remove itself.

Many modern infections are complex amalgamations of multiple components, each with a separate purpose. They can include trojan horses, viruses, worms, backdoors, and rootkits (collectively referred to as "malware"). The last of those—rootkits—are one of the most threatening aspects of modern infections. These components exist solely to hide and protect the rest of the bundled infection. The most dangerous and sophisticated of these actually modify ("patch") critical Windows system files at the lowest level so that they load the infection before any other major component of your operating system. Once in position, they then are free to filter any and all information passing through the system, meaning that they can hide anything and everything they please even from Windows itself.

You can probably imagine how powerful and dangerous such an approach to hijacking a PC this is. Essentially, this means that nothing will be able to see the infected files to remove them—not you, nor Windows Explorer, nor even your virus scanner. And that, my friends, is why you can no longer simply scan and remove most infections.

The scary thing is, a large percentage of modern infections take this approach. So, then, what's the solution? That's where I come in. I can remove even the most complex infections, and I'm among the very best in the entire Louisville area at doing so. I am a rare specialist in this area; you can depend on my expertise. The price? I'm one of the most affordable and effective in the entire Louisville area thanks to my decades of experience.

A fake antivirus program keeps alerting me, and I can't get rid of it.

This is called a rogue anti-malware program, and they're very common these days. Their primary purpose is to try and trick you into purchasing their product so that they can scam you out of your money—and sometimes steal your credit card number.

They're also generally bundled with other types of malware, making this a very bad sign. If you're experiencing these symptoms and you cannot seem to rid yourself of the problem, I can fix it for you and ensure that you aren't also afflicted by a dangerous rootkit underneath it all.

Help! I can't even get into Windows!

If you're getting an error message prior to Windows booting, or if your computer repeatedly reboots, it's important to turn it off and not attempt to use it. The reason why is that there is actually a small chance that your hard drive may be failing. If this is the case, every attempt to access data on the drive reduces the chances of a successful recovery. See here for more on hard drive data recovery.

You should call me immediately if you are experiencing these symptoms. There's a good chance I can partially diagnose your problem over the phone, so it's worth a phone call.

Better yet, I can fix it for you. If you bring it to me, it's as little as $57 (3/4 of an hour) if it's an easy fix. If you'd like to have a Triple-S Tune-up performed at the same time, ask me and I can offer you a discounted rate for it!

My computer keeps crashing and I can't figure out why. Any advice?

This is sort of like saying "my car won't start and I don't know why," except twice as bad really since computers are more complex by an order of magnitude. The long and the short of it is that system crashes (including BSODs/Blue Screens of Death/STOP Errors) can be caused by just about anything: driver problems, malware infections, poorly written programs, hardware failures and instabilities, conflicting security software installations—you name it. The key is pinpointing what precisely is causing your particular problem. You can check the memory dumps for some insight into this, but if the idea of that baffles you, why not just leave it to me? I can read through your most recent error dumps (if present), get to the bottom of the problem, and solve it for you.

One thing's for certain: it isn't safe to continue using an unstable computer. Doing so is akin to driving a car that's shaking uncomfortably, making odd noises, or dying randomly—you're risking some serious (possibly even dangerous) damage. If your machine repeatedly shuts off, depending on the cause, you could eventually find yourself unable to boot or access your data. By that time, it could be too late. It's a much better idea not to wait and simply proactively solve the problem before it becomes a serious issue.

I think my hard drive may be failing! Can you help?

It depends. If you're unable to access Windows or you think your data may have been lost, I can probably get it back for you. First off, be sure to stop using the drive immediately; the more you use it, the more likely you'll lose it.

In the case of any hard drive failure, you have a couple of options:

  • You can send it to a data recovery company with specialized equipment and a Class 100 clean room and pay upwards of $1,500 to have it recovered

    or

  • You can contact me and I can diagnose the drive for you. Probably 70-80% of the time, I can use my own personal recovery equipment and the pricey software that I own to recover your data.

Before I begin working on the drive, there are a couple of things I will check for you in the name of safety. The first is the drive's mechanical status. I will run non-invasive tests to diagnose whether the problem lies in the firmware or mechanical realm or the logical realm. If it's a logical failure, I can recover your data almost certainly.

If it so happens that it's a mechanical failure, we can discuss your options. If you decide that the data is worth thousands to you, it's time to send it off to a specialized data recovery firm. If not, I'll go ahead and attempt recovery (my flat fees are much cheaper). I use much of the same extremely powerful and expensive equipment as the big data recovery firms, with the sole exception that I draw the line if any firmware or mechanical repairs are necessary in order to read the drive (if this happens, I'll simply return your drive to you and refer you to a data recovery firm if you wish to continue).

If I don't recover your data, the drive diagnosis won't cost you anything.

I've got a dead computer, but I need my data. What can I do?

One option is to slave the drive to another system and copy the files you need. This actually isn't that difficult, but it does require physical removal of the drive and careful connection to the host PC. If it sounds risky to you, don't sweat it; I can do it for you.

On the other hand, if your data isn't visible or the drive is exhibiting strange behavior, you're better off to bring it to me anyway. If advanced data recovery is necessary, I'll let you know. Sometimes it's no big deal and you just need to take the right approach to get the data back; if that's the case, I'll charge you whatever it takes and nothing more.

The Highlights

$88/hr for most services in lab.
Billed in 1/4-hour increments after the first hour.
Transparent billing that intentionally excludes deceptive flat rate pricing. Most machines are repaired in under 2 hours.
Zero markup on all parts. That's right!
Complimentary mini tune-up with any disinfection service.
The most reliable disinfection service anywhere.
If you want it done right, there's just no one better.
I'm independent.
I never tie myself down to any one company's products.
I know what the heck I'm doing.
There are an awful lot of techs out there, but I know it's tough to find one to trust.
Again, I'm honest.
I won't sell you anything you don't need.
If I finish quickly, I'll gladly spend the rest of the time helping you with other matters, so you'll get your money's worth!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tip:
If you suspect your PC might be infected
, it's a good idea to immediately disconnect it from the internet to prevent it from "phoning home" to the attacker with your personal info or downloading additional threats.