Taking advantage of the average PC user

The average PC owner is at a great disadvantage when it comes to computer repairs and fixes. Very few have any idea of what goes on in Windows and most have to accept on faith whatever someone tells them about a misbehaving computer. To some extent this is also true of cars and household appliances but these are less mysterious than computers and are far less subject to minor problems that look like major ones. For example, there have been countless times when someone asked me about a Windows problem that had them stopped in their tracks but which took two minutes to fix. There are many common Windows hiccups that make a computer unusable to an average person but which are very easy to deal with by an experienced PC user.

Because of the complexity of Windows, malware, and cybercrime, there is a lot of hype about software and services that claim to make your computer run faster or protect it against one threat or the other. Unfortunately, there are also unscrupulous repair services that claim to fix non-existent problems or overcharge for routine services. Sadly, the major retailer Best Buy is alleged to be providing unnecessary services. The Consumerist has a piece, Best Buy Optimization Is A Big Stupid Annoying Waste Of Money:

Over the past year, a number of you have been telling us that, due to “pre-optimization” of computers, it’s difficult — sometimes impossible — to walk into a Best Buy and leave with the advertised deal (in effect, you would be paying a $39.99 surcharge over the computer’s advertised price). We decided to look into your complaints. We sent the Consumer Reports secret shoppers to 18 different Best Buys in 11 states, and one of our shoppers was denied the price advertised for a specific model because only pre-optimized computers were available. When the Consumer Reports engineers compared three “optimized” computers to ones with default factory settings, there was no performance improvement. In one case, an optimized laptop actually performed 32% worse than the factory model.

If you ever buy PCs at the big box stores, you should read the article.

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