World-renowned Hardware Expert and Authority on Data-Recovery...
This week, Stephen
Ibaraki, I.S.P., has an exclusive interview with the universally
esteemed Scott Mueller, considered the most authoritative, and
trusted hardware voice with a highly respected international
reputation. As president of Mueller Technical Research, he spends
upwards of 25-weeks on the road each year, as an eminent training
expert in PC hardware, operating systems, and data-recovery
Scott is a world-renowned
author, distinguished teacher, and highly sought-after speaker. His
book “Upgrading and Repairing PCs” is an international best seller
with more than 2.3 million copies sold—a figure rare in the
computing publishing field, making his book the highest selling
essential guide in the history of hardware publishing. His latest
edition is now available. Scott’s other recent works include
“Upgrading and Repairing Laptops”, “Repairing PCs Video Training
Course”, and “Upgrading and Repairing Servers”.
Scott has taught hardware
repair in the US, Canada, Australia and Europe including for Fortune
500 corporations, innumerable agencies, governments, entrepreneurs,
PC repair professionals, and major hardware/software corporations.
His numerous outstanding articles have appeared in many publications
including the prestigious Forbes, and Investors Business Daily.
Together with valued appearances with TechTV, he is a top-ranking
industry expert for the media.
Q: Scott, as a foremost
expert in hardware, we are most fortunate to have you taking time
out to do this interview.
A: Thanks for asking, as
usual, I am greatly honored by the request!
Q: The last time we
talked, you were working on the last round of modifications to the
Grand Cherokee. How is this project coming along?
A: Unfortunately, no
progress has been made on any of my vehicle projects, mainly due to
the fact that we’ve moved! If you’ve ever moved both your home and
business twice in one year (and lived out of boxes in temporary
housing during the in-between time), you will know that it isn’t
much fun. My main project since our last interview has been just
moving, setting up a new office (including wired and wireless
networks), plus moving our home, garage, etc. Once I’m unpacked and
organized, I’ll finish up the Jeep, and move on to finishing the
Q: Can you share your top
five tips from the latest edition of “Upgrading and Repairing PCs?”
A: 1) Power supplies are
still the most failure prone component in a modern PC. Keep a high
quality spare on hand, or consider replacing the cheap stock unit
included with your system with something more powerful and of higher
2) Make backups! These
days people have more and more data than ever on their systems,
often including irreplaceable digital photos and videos. If you
don’t backup, you are asking to lose it all, often when you least
3) Stick with systems
built using industry standard components, so you will be able to
easily upgrade or repair them in the future.
4) Change one thing at a
time when troubleshooting a problem.
5) Stick with popular
types of hardware and software, this makes support and
troubleshooting much easier as it is far more likely that somebody
else has the same problems you do, and may have already figured out
Q: Your recent book,
“Upgrading and Repairing Laptops,” is a “must read” and garnering
considerable attention. What are the ten most compelling reasons why
our audience should purchase this book?
A: 1) Laptops sales are
growing at rates far exceeding desktop systems, and new capabilities
such as wireless networking are making laptops the system of choice
for many users. More and more people are using laptops as their only
system. My book shows the reasons why a laptop may or may not be the
best type of system for you.
2) Laptops are by nature
more proprietary in their design and construction than desktop
systems, and it is important to know what components can or cannot
be easily replaced or upgraded.
3) Laptops are much more
expensive to purchase than a desktop with similar processing power,
knowing the differences between all of the choices on the market can
save you a lot of money when purchasing a new system.
4) Laptops are much more
expensive to upgrade or repair than desktop systems, knowing how to
remove and replace internal components can save you a lot of money
by doing the work yourself.
5) Taking apart a laptop
(and putting it back together) is not nearly as intuitive as it is
on a desktop system, and is normally much more complicated. My
current laptop system contains more than 85 screws of 8 different
types! My book will show you how most laptops can be successfully
taken apart and put back together, and even includes a video CD you
can watch that shows the process in detail.
6) Wireless networking is
one of the reasons that many people purchase laptops; my book
explains the ins and outs of the different types of wireless
7) Since laptops are
expensive, proper care is important. My book shows you how to care
for and maintain your system so it will last.
8) There are a lot of
marketing terms and hype used to sell laptops, my book explains the
differences between actual components (such as the Pentium M
processor) and a marketing “brand” (such as Centrino).
9) When you are on the
road and have problems, the resource guide contained in my book will
give you the emergency service and repair phone numbers to call for
most of the popular manufacturers.
10) Any normal technician
can work on desktop systems, distance yourself from the rest by
adding laptop servicing to your repertoire.
Q: Now share your five
valuable gems from the book.
A: 1) The video CD
included with the book shows in detail how to disassemble a typical
2) The book explains in
detail the differences between mobile and desktop processors. Some
laptops actually use desktop processors; I explain why this can
either be good or bad.
3) Learn why many
so-called wide screen displays actually show less information than
standard screens, and why extremely high resolution displays may
actually not be a good thing (pixels per inch).
4) Laptop batteries are
very expensive; learn how to properly care for the batteries in your
system so that they will last as long as possible.
5) My book includes
detailed error code listings from all of the major manufacturers,
which can be very helpful when boot failures occur.
Q: Tell us more about
your work with Mueller Technical Research—vision, mission,
strategies and goals, major projects, future prospects.
A: My mission is to
continue writing the most in-depth, accurate, meaningful, and yet
easy to read and understand books covering the latest computer
hardware and technology.
Q: Please comment on your
articles and work for the media.
A: I did several articles
for Maximum PC magazine last year, and would like to write more
articles for them and possibly other magazines in 2004.
Q: What are the most
compelling issues facing IT professionals, hardware administrators,
and system integrators today and in the future? How can they be
A: 1) Keeping up with the
latest technology and jargon.
2) Maintaining existing
systems so they work at peak levels and efficiency.
3) Servicing systems in
the most cost effective way possible.
4) Getting the most value
for your money when purchasing new systems or components.
6) Recovering lost or
7) Ensuring that the
hardware and software chosen best meets the needs of the users.
problems in the most efficient way possible.
9) Wireless networking,
avoiding pitfalls and maintaining security.
Q: List the ten best
resources for IT professionals.
A: 1) My books.
2) Trade publications
like Electronic Engineering Times magazine.
3) Retail publications
like Maximum PC magazine.
4) Online forums such as
the PC Hardware forum at
5) Websites of
organizations or committees that set industry standards (such as the
PCI SIG), and the standards documents published by those
6) Component manufacturer
websites like Intel.com.
7) System manufacturer
websites like IBM.com.
8) On-line review sites
9) Component vendor sites
10) Your own personal
experiences: Whatever doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.
Q: What kind of computer
setup do you have?
A: I have close to 20
systems in-house, but my current main system is a ThinkPad R40 with
several upgrades and modifications.
Q: Scott, we enjoyed your
thoughtful answers. Thank you again for your time, and consideration
in doing this interview.
A: Thanks so much for the