SEASIDE — At only age 21, Greg Dotson has long been the student and the understudy. But now he’s the technician and owner of Coastal Custom Computers and Electronics, a repair and retail store in Seaside.
Dotson doesn’t have a long work history, but his experience in computer repair is extensive. While in high school, he interned at Seaside Computer Works. He then took some classes at Clatsop Community College before transferring to Oregon Institute of Technology in Klamath Falls to study network engineering before returning to Seaside.
“I was eager to start my life and so I moved back here,” he said. After a stint with Mike’s Computer Repair in Seaside, Dotson opened his own business at 427 South Holladay Drive in April 2016.
“I thought Holladay (Drive) would be the perfect spot. It was too expensive to rent space along the highway. This area gets just as much exposure,” he said.
Business has been steady for the start-up.
“It’s going surprisingly well for the first year,” Dotson said.
Many of his initial customers have been people seeking powerful systems to handle photo and audio editing projects. The price range for custom computer ranges starts around $600 to 800 for a desktop for general web browsing, while an “enthusiast grade” is approximately $1,000 to $2,000. Dotson is passionate about custom-built computers, a rare service on the coast.
“It’s one service that we do that nobody in a 50-mile radius does is build computers,” he said. The shop carries Lenovo and ASUS laptops, but it’s the custom-built desktops that Dotson believes are the best value. Manufactures will sometimes cut corners by using inferior components, which ultimately run hotter and wear out faster than their custom-built counterparts, according to Dotson. When custom building a computer, Dotson is mindful of which internal components will work best, which sometimes means blending different brands.
“We can pick and choose which hardware works the best, and how to cool it the best,” he said. “It’s a cheaper price than pre-built and it performs better than something you can buy at big box stores.”
Science of staying cool
Water inside a computer is generally a cause for concern, except when it comes to keeping internal components cool. Where fans have traditionally been at forefront, water is now the way to go, Dotson said.
“The better you cool the system, the longer it will last,” Dotson said. “Water conducts heat up to 1,000 times better than air.” Like veins coursing blood through a body, distilled water mixed with a coolant base whirls and pumps through translucent tubes weaving over circuit boards and around fragile components. The tubing serves as a circulatory cooling system inside the core of the computer.
“It generally costs a little more but it will last longer because of the components and cooling ability,” Dotson said.
“For someone that’s going to be video editing, there’s no other way to way to go.”
Common computer mistakes
What starts with one of the most common mistakes often leads to the most rewarding part of the job for Dotson.
“The most rewarding part is the data recovery,” he said.
“A lot of people never back up their computer and then, seven years later, it goes bad and they lose family photos and movies.” Most of the time, however, he can remedy the situation.
“We have about a 95 percent success rate since we started,” he said. He suggests using a backup drive as insurance against hard drive crashes, which he believes a majority are already doing.
“You only have to use it a couple times a year, just back up once every three or six months.” The process can take an hour and the drive can cost around $100. Dotson suggests bringing your computer for a cleaning annually, or if you can see lint in the vents or fans. Using compressed air can help, but it can ruin the fan bearings if done improperly.