Using a Powerbook to fix Windows computers?

Discussion in 'General Mac Discussion' started by Silly Burrito, Apr 20, 2005.

  1. Silly Burrito macrumors newbie

    Apr 13, 2005
    Hello everyone! I'm about to purchase a used 12" Powerbook soon for my brand new computer repair business. I want to use this computer to keep track of my expenses, surf for answers to questions, etc. I do plan to upgrade to Tiger, as the machine is a 1.33Ghz w/768 MB RAM, which I figure will work nicely.

    I have two questions:

    1. Is it possible for a Powerbook to access a Windows machine (using FAT or NTFS depending on Windows version) and delete or add files as necessary? I realize I'd have to run the software on the Windows machine, but if I couldn't get it to boot, it'd be nice to connect a crossover cable, a USB connections, something that would allow me to access the hard drive of the Windows machine. If I can't do it just by connecting a crossover cable, would it be possible to use Virtual PC with XP Pro to do the same thing?

    2. As a new business owner, I wouldn't mind any new business oriented programs that help out, but I wouldn't mind installing a few new games/diversions while I wait for the spyware program to finish cleaning up ;) (also just to flash a little panache to the customer on the beauty of Apple). Any good recommendations?

    Well, I more question, but it may be better for the buying forum.

    3. Are there any recommendations for a good solid case? Ideally, I'd like a lightweight but tough case that could survive a fall. The soft bag types look ok, but I'd just be wary of dropping it on a floor or something similar.

    Thanks for your help!
  2. varmit macrumors 68000


    Aug 5, 2003
    1) For Windows XP, you can use
    Remote Desktop. Otherwise, you can take the drive out of the computer and put it in a firewire incloser. Just now a days you are going to need and ATA Firewire and and SATA Firewire inclosures (you would have to do this if you were using another PC too if you just wanted access to the drive on a none booting PC, just both types of inclosers because manufactures are now shipping both types for regular PCs now a days). Mac can access FAT just fine, NTFS is supported but sometimes just doesn't work for whatever reason. You can also get GoToMyPc and sign up for it. Then when people call for trouble shooting, you can stay at home and work on their computer. You just need them to go to the GoToMyPc site, sign in, download it, install it, give a certain password, then you can access their computer as long as they have a broad band connection. Then when you are done you can remove that persons PC from your GoToMyPC profile so that you can use it with another person's computer. (Its helpful when just dealing with spyware kind of stuff, and the person can watch you do it). You can trouble shoot Macs from a distance using VNC too. Look up on how to use VNC with Apples Remote Desktop that is already built into the system, again, broad band needed.

    2) I use iCal and Address book. They go right in nicely with alarms and emails though Mail for appointments.

    3) There is the Zero Halliburton Laptop Briefcase which is an aluminum briefcase. Go to the Apple Store online, then on the left hand side there should be "Mac Accessories", choose the on that says "Portable Gear". There are a couple of backpacks that look like they are hard shells. There is also "Software" in that list, choose "Productivity" on the next page, then figure out which software you want to use also. Like MYOB - First Edge for doing accounting and management, or Market Circle - Daylite v1.7 for CRM. It all depends on how much you need, which as you can see, I'm on my own so I don't need much. Just TurboTax for that yearly payment to the government if I make enough to be on radar.
  3. rogerw macrumors 6502

    Mar 13, 2004
    west sussex UK
  4. DXoverDY macrumors 6502a

    Apr 19, 2005
    I'm not sure why you would want to use a powerbook to access a harddrive with windows on it. I believe OS X will READ fat32 and NTFS but it's write support for NTFS should probably be considered very dangerous.

    If you need to back up information on a hard drive that won't boot, there is simply no better way todo it than to use a Knoppix LiveCD. No removing hard drives, no nothing. Drop in the disc, plug in an external hard drive or another cd burner and you can back it all up that way. or even FTP/SMB it over to another machine. You may wish to go that route.
  5. matticus008 macrumors 68040


    Jan 16, 2005
    Bay Area, CA
    If you're going to be repairing PCs, you should have a PC on hand to do so. If the machine won't boot, you'll need to restore boot records, etc. which can only be done from PC-based boot disks or booting to the Windows CD locally. Also, as far as data recovery, you'll be fine with some external hard drives for storage and the PowerBook, but you cannot rely on OS X to write to NTFS volumes. It's not stable, predictable, or useful to average users, let alone tech support. You might get it to work, but there are no guarantees.

    There's nothing to stop you from using the PB as your own computer for business-related work (tracking expenses, email, ordering parts, research, personal use), and in fact it's a great idea. But you will come across situations where you will absolutely NEED another PC to fix the problem (be it swapping hardware or setting up the drive properly/rewriting the boot sector or MBR). Even in the cases where you *can* use a Mac to fix the PC, you'll often find it many times easier to use the PC. Regardless, your administrative computer should not be used as a servicing/repair/test machine and should be kept separate so it doesn't get cluttered up, damaged, or intruded (even though you won't catch bugs, malware, and viruses from the PCs you connect to, you can transmit them unwittingly by copying files). A business like yours can't run without records and logs and a working internet connection, so it's very important that you have at least two machines to start with and that you avoid using your administrative computer for repair work.

    I think you should treat yourself to the Mac, just to get a relaxing, (mostly) worry-free computer. Fixing computers day in and day out really makes you appreciate having one that doesn't give you any trouble. Enjoy it! :)
  6. Silly Burrito thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 13, 2005
    Thanks for all of your ideas. They mirror ideas that I thought about as well (except for GoToMyPC..I was thinking VNC, but never thought about GTMP).

    I know it seems weird to want to use a Mac to fix PCs. I actually have an old Dell in my repair office that I've been using to help hack my Tivo. I also have my main computer now, which is one I've built and is running XP. I just remember a program called "Dave" or something similar that supposedly would allow you to share files and it made me wonder if the same concept would apply to repair. I went looking at laptops the other day, and while I believe I could just get a crossover cable and a cheap XP laptop to do what I want, I wouldn't get the same geek cred as when I pull out that shiny Powerbook ;)

    The firewire idea is great, and it's basically the same thing I thought of. I could just get a PPC version of Knoppix (I believe one exists), fire up the Mac with the bad hard drive connected via FireWire, and work on it from there if the computer system was totally dead. Otherwise, I'd just throw a normal Knoppix disk in the broken PC.

    Now I just have to figure out what I want to buy. I have two offers for used powerbooks. One is a 1.33GHz 12", and the other is a 1GHz 17". They're roughly the same price, but the 12" has more software. I just hesistate to get the 17" because if I'm using it as a portable machine, it doesn't seem that freakin' portable (but it does look sweet). Plus, the 12" is newer, so I think I could get Applecare still on it.

    Anyway, thanks for the suggestions, and if you have more, send them in! I'd appreciate it!

Share This Page