Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ on the Keyboard

 

Questions about our Technical Support Services :

  1. Do you provide technical support or web design services to businesses or individuals?

  2. If you are a charitable organisation, why don't you provide your services for free to other charities?

  3. Do you give discounts to new or returning customers?

  4. Do you provide free consultations or advice?

  5. Is there any minimum requirements for computer repairs?

  6. What operating systems do you support?

  7. Do you support computer networks and servers? Can you help set them up?

  8. Why do you insist on supporting Micro$oft products rather than helping organisations to transfer to free and open source software?

  9. We want to buy some new equipment and software. Is this something you can help with?

10. We have a computer that has a Windows Operating System that isn't legal, can you still fix it?

11. How quickly can I get help if I need it?

12. Do you support home users or remote workers?

13. Do you provide database design and support?

 

Questions about our web-based Services :

14. Can you help us to design a website and host it?

15. We already have our own website, can you still host it?

16. Can you design a graphic-style website for us in flash and photoshop?

 

Questions about our IT Refurbishment Services :

  1. Do you charge for recycling I.T. equipment?

  2. What I.T. equipment do you accept?

  3. What equipment do you NOT accept?

  4. What is the minimum specification of donated equipment you accept without charging?

  5. I have donated a computer. How can I be sure that the personal data has been properly deleted?

  6. We have had a PC donated to us, but it's had its hard disk deleted so it's useless to us. Is the only option to donate it for refurbishment and buy another?

  7.How secure is the personal data from my donated computer?

  8. What are the benefits of disposing of our equipment through yourself?

  9.  What is the difference between the recycling service you provide and using the Council's public facilities?

  10. Do you collect I.T. equipment?

  11. I have a large number of computers I want to dispose of. How do I go about arranging for a collection?

  12. I have a room filled with computers, some of them are probably not to your minimum specifications. How would you decide what to bill me?

  13. What documentation will I need?

  14. Are you fully legal and WEEE compliant?

  15. Is all donated equipment kept secure?

  16. Can I specify where my donation goes?

 


Q. Do you provide technical support or web design services to businesses or individuals?

A. The simple answer is yes, we provide our services to anyone who needs us while providing special discounts and services to not-for-profits and people on low income.

We are also a not-for-profit organisation with our origins and values firmly grounded in the Voluntary, Community and Not-for-Profit Sector. We are run along community lines ourselves, so we really do understand the sector’s specific problems and needs. It’s our goal to provide Calderdale's third sector organisations with a wide range of reliable and cost-effective computer services and solutions at affordable prices, backed by our first-class customer support.

However, DOT-COMmunICaTions is completely self-financing (i.e. NOT grant-aided in any way).

This means while we remain absolutely focused on meeting the needs of not-for-profit organisations, we also provide technical support etc. to commercial businesses, private individuals or and support organisations situated outside of Calderdale.

For individuals or small businesses requiring pay-as-you-go technical support, our Tech & Rescue service provides an affordable, in-house solution.

 

Q. If you are a charitable organisation, why don't you provide your services for free to other charities?

A. The simple answer is because we want to still be around in 25 years time providing the best possible ICT services for the best possible prices in a way that is best for sustaining the not-for-profit sector.

Free services aren't really free, they still require money to pay the cost of providing the services, the difference is that an external funder picks up the bill.

The problem with that funding model is that -

a) It isn't sustainable. Funders will not continually pour in revenue grants year after year, so without self-generated revenue the scheme would only be able to run for a few years at a time. It's hard to rely on a scheme that may only be around for a few years.

b) It can reduce the amount of grant aid available for front-line services;

After all, paying an organisation an additional couple of hundred pounds a year to maintain essential office equipment and improve services to a particular client group is easier for funders to understand and fund than paying thousands to an organisation that aims to support the whole spectrum of community organisations. It's also cheaper than paying organisations thousands of pounds every couple of years to replace their computer equipment.

c) it all requires the organisation receiving the funding to put vital staff time and energy into seeking out appropriate grants to sustain it rather than focussing on their primary goals of supporting organisations (second line organisations such as DOT-COMmunICaTions have a harder job finding appropriate sources of funding and convincing funders that their services are essential anyway). We focus the majority of our income on front-line staff and providing quality services for our clients rather than on management, administration or fundraising.

d) Free services aren't valued as highly. It's an unfortunate fact that many feel that 'you get what you pay for' as far as the quality of service is concerned and experience has shown that free services struggle to be taken seriously. We have had organisations in Calderdale elect not to use our services because they think we charge too little to be able to provide the quality of service they require. The experience of our existing clients proves that isn't the case, but it can be hard for some organisations to accept.

We do occasionally apply for funding to roll out specialised services and if successful, use that money exclusively for that purpose, but we are not 100% reliant on funding to maintain and grow the services we provide.

 

Q. Do you give discounts to new or returning customers?

A. No, we believe that ALL of our clients deserve the same low cost, high value services. Our prices are highly discounted for ALL our clients, ALL of the time.

Just compare our packages with any of our competitors and you'll find you get both more for your money as well as a higher level of service from us than with any similar technical support service in the region.

For example, the national IT support service, Carphone Warehouse's The Geek Squad charge £83.88 per year JUST for telephone and email advice while a remote support only contract (which requires that your computer can access the Internet in order to function) costs £119.88 and even  a SINGLE home visit starts at £99!

 

Q. Do you give free consultations or advice?

A. Yes, if you are a not-for-profit organisation in Calderdale. The first consultation is free to all such organisations and existing clients can contact us at any time during working hours by telephone or email to request basic advice or a quote regarding IT services or equipment, however further advice is only available either on a service contract or pay-as-you-go.

We also offer a free initial diagnosis and quotation as part of our Tech & Rescue Service.

 

Q. Is there any minimum requirements for computer repairs?

A. It's recommended that as a minimum for computers to be worth fixing or upgrading that they are:

  • At least a Pentium 2, with processor speed of 100MHz or above
  • At least 64MB RAM (memory)
  • At least 10gb hard disk
  • You may also need a working broadband internet connection (from any internet access provider)

 

Q. What operating systems do you support?

A. We support:

  • Windows 98 SE
  • Windows 2000
  • Windows Millennium (though we do not recommend this system)
  • Windows XP (Home and Professional versions)
  • Windows CE
  • Windows Vista
  • Windows 7
  • Windows Servers - including Exchange, Small Business Server, Terminal Server etc.
  • Thin Clients
  • We can also provide support for: Macintosh Operating Systems, Linux, Unbuntu, Zimbra etc.

 Windows Logo   Apple Mac Logo   Linux Logo

To find out more about whether or not we can support your computer systems, why not give us a call?

 

Q. Do you support computer networks and servers? Can you help to set them up?

A. Yes, we can help with all aspects of setting up and maintaining a network by helping you to plan, budget and understand your network. Because we work closely with you, we are always available to discuss your needs and talk through the different options. We can source all of the hardware (both new and refurbished) and software you require as well as install Network Cabling (CAT5e including shielded) or Wireless solutions. What's more, after implementation, you can make sure your network works properly by taking out a comprehensive Network Maintenance & Support contract for complete peace of mind.

 

Q. Why do you insist on supporting Micro$oft products rather than helping organisations to transfer to free and open source software?

A. We are in the (not-for-profit) business of supporting our client organisations, 98% of whom currently use a Windows system. As stated above, we will support other systems where appropriate, and we will recommend Open Source software if that offers the best solution for the needs of our clients. We can also provide refurbished computers with a Linux operating system if requested.

However, it has to be the client's choice as to what will work best for them, and, in many cases, we acknowledge that it can be easier (and overall cheaper especially when you count the cost of training) to use Microsoft products. We will always support whatever products our clients choose to use to the best of our abilities.

 

Q. We want to buy some new equipment and software. Is this something you can help with?

A. With our links to specialist distributors and suppliers, we can advise on and supply custom-built or branded PC's, Servers and peripherals at extremely competitive prices.

We can also supply software packages like Microsoft Office and other well-known brands with generous discounts for not-for-profit organisations.

 

Q. We have a computer that has a Windows Operating System that isn't legal, can you still fix it?

A. Yes, but ONLY if you agree to purchase a legal licence, you must have valid software licences for your Operating System and all applications on your computer(s), though if you are a registered charity or not-for-profit organisation then we may be able to help you to rectify this for a small price.

Please note, you will be expected to supply details of the relevant licence keys if we ask you for them.

 

Q. How quickly can I get help if I need it?

A. Urgent calls before midday weekdays are generally seen that same or following working day if possible, urgent calls after midday will be dealt with the next working day. Where possible we will try and resolve non-urgent requests either by phone, email or by remote support within two working days and we can arrange for a visit within three.

We quote an average of three working days for Tech & Rescue repairs (not requiring the purchase of specific parts) but most jobs are completed well within that.

 

Q. Do you support home users or remote workers?

A. Yes we can, either through our Tech & Rescue Service, Pay-As-You-Go service or as part of a Technical Support Contract where it has been agreed in advance as part of a customised support contract.

We believe in working in partnership with our clients. To that end, we allow our clients to decide exactly how they want their contracted support hours to be used.

Where requested, we can provide technical support to previously specified home addresses (whether volunteers, users or home workers) or additional locations within Calderdale. However home visits can only be undertaken if the request comes from either the registered office or the official representative stated in the contact or is confirmed by the same. It is the responsibility of the organisation to ensure that they provide such approval in advance of any requested visit as DOT-COMmunications cannot undertake responsibility for obtaining the necessary authorisation when contacted by a home user.

We appreciate that when emergencies occur, it can be difficult to obtain such authorisation - in such cases we will provide an emergency support service on equipment dropped off at our Centre (sorry but we will not undertake home visits without prior authorisation) though we will make that person aware that unless authorisation is received prior to collection that they will be personally financially liable for the cost of the repair at the lower, contracted support cost.

 

Q. Do you provide database design and support?

A. Yes, whether you need a web-based database to run an online program, or a server-based database to help to track your contacts and membership, funding and monitoring requirements or simply to help support your organisation, we can design customised databases to suit your specific needs. We will work with you to develop a suitable solution that is reliable and easy-to-use.

Database development need not be an expensive endeavour - call us to discuss your requirements and to arrange an appointment.

 


Q. Can you help us to design a website and host it?

A. Yes, we provide a comprehensive and fully accessible web design service. Our experienced developers can build you a website to your specifications, whether completely from scratch or as an update or redesign of your existing site, all at extremely reasonable rates. Whether you are interested in a static HTML-based website, or a more complex and interactive database-driven CMS (content management system) we have the right solution for you.

Prices start from £100 for a five page static site and from £250 for a basic database-driven site.

We can also provide a variety of webhosting solutions tailored to your needs. We can host the site on our own web-server (CMS sites created by us must be hosted on our server), with access to your own control panel, statistics, back-ups and email accounts for a small annual fee.

 

Q. We already have our own website, can you still host it?

A. Yes. Provided you own the domain name, the website design and can arrange for them to be transferred we can host it on our linux server, however if your site requires access to .asp programming and a Microsoft Server then we can advise you on suitable hosts.

If your current host refuses to release your files or allow you to transfer your domain name, give us a call and we can advise you on how to proceed.

 

Q. Can you design a graphic-style website for us in flash and photoshop?

A. Yes, but we'd prefer not to. image-based sites (and menus in particular) can be hard to view in older browsers or if you are using a screen reader or text-only browser. Flash, is particularly inaccessible to anyone who cannot see properly and is often inaccessible to a deaf or hard-of-hearing person. It’s also completely inaccessible on slow computers or any machine that lacks the Flash plug-in, rendering those visitors more functionally disabled than they actually are.

We would prefer to build you a fully accessible and compliant site instead that would allow all of your users to be able to view it properly. All our sites are checked to ensure that they are fully HTML and CSS compliant and browser-compatible before they go live.

For more information, why not contact us for a free consultation?

 


Q. Do you charge for recycling I.T. equipment?

A. Not if the equipment being donated to us is both fully functional and above our minimum specifications UNLESS we need to travel outside the Borough to collect it.

Equipment below specification or non-functional (either due to the equipment being damaged or having components removed) usually carries a charge but with prior agreement, we will allow members of the public to drop off a few computers at Salem Community Resource Centre for free.

We will accept all computer related equipment - including from schools, businesses both large and small and from individuals.

See our Pricelist for further details.

We allow members of the public and local community organisations to drop off a few computers at Salem Community Resource Centre for free.

For a drop-off, we will accept for free the amount of IT equipment you can carry in your personal car. Larger donations and company donations are welcome and may qualify for our pickup service.

Drop-off is easy

You can visit our Centre, Mon - Thurs (9:00AM - 4:00PM) except holidays to drop-off equipment, however larger (or chargeable) donations of equipment need to be booked in advance – we cannot accept vanloads of equipment arriving without prior agreement.

Just call us on 01422-845003 or for more information, send email to admin@dot-communications.co.uk and give us a few details and we will call you to arrange a suitable collection day.

 

Q. What I.T. equipment do you accept?

A. We accept all Functional IT equipment:

- laptops, desktop and tower PCs, network servers, all computer peripherals including monitors both CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) and LCD/TFT (Liquid Crystal Display/Thin Film Transistor), all computer cables (power, network, USB etc.), laptop power supplies, keyboards, mice, speakers, printers, VOIP telephony equipment, routers, hubs, switches, network cards (ethernet and wireless), UPS, powerstrips, hard drives (SATA, IDE, USB, 8gb or larger), mobile phones, flash drives (also known as USB memory-sticks), sticks of memory (128mb or larger, SDRAM, DDR etc.), CD-ROM and DVD Drives (x16 or higher) including CD-RW and DVD-RW drives (x4 or higher), graphics and sound cards, network Access Points (wired and wireless), OEM media (the original CDs that shipped with the computer) for Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Office or Word, recovery/restore disks and used, unwanted laser toner and inkjet cartridges, etc.

If unsure, please give us a call.

 

Q. What equipment do you NOT accept?

A. There are a number of IT-related items that we will not usually handle:

This includes photocopiers, plotters, normal telephones, fax machines, televisions and office furniture. If you need such items removed, please contact us to see if we can help.

Please note if we do agree to take the equipment away for disposal, there will be a charge.

 

Q. What is the minimum specification of donated equipment you accept without charging?

A. We accept all fully functional  -

Laptops - Pentium III & later including AMD-equivalent processors, minimum 10 Gb harddisk;

Desktops - Pentium 4 & later including AMD-equivalent processors, minimum 20 Gb harddisk;

Monitors - 17" or larger CRTs, all functional LCD/TFTs

Other I.T. and telephony equipment may also be acceptable - please contact us.

 

Q. I have donated a computer. How can I be sure that the personal data has been properly deleted?

A. ALL computers received, regardless of source (i.e. whether you drop them off or we pick the systems up), are logged immediately into our specialist asset tracking system as soon as it's received.

Every hard drive received at our facility undergoes our thorough data removal process for FREE consisting of our standard three pass deletion using our specialist hardware and/or software to above DoD 5220.22-M specifications which eliminates all personal and confidential information from the hard disk. Once the drive has been erased in this manner it is impossible for data to be recovered from the drive.

We then remove all other identifying information including asset tags, UV marks etc. regardless of whether the computer will subsequently be reused or will need to be recycled. The extensive procedures we carry out on all equipment we receive are designed to prevent any possibility of identify theft or stolen data, guaranteed.

Non reusable and unreadable hard drives are totally and thoroughly destroyed by being drilled multiple times in our secure area before being dismantled and sent for metal reclamation.

You can also request a Certificate of Data Destruction (this documentation will cost £10 per system), whereby we will send you a certified report with hard disk serial number and the date and time confirming when your hard drive was wiped. Payment is due when the equipment is received.

Remember that your hard drive will be securely wiped whether or not you request a Certificate of Data Destruction.

Or you can request a higher level of secure data deletion when you drop the computer off, complete with a Certificate of Data Destruction confirming all aspects of our process.

 

Q. We have had a PC donated to us, but it's had its hard disk deleted so it's useless to us. Is the only option to donate it for refurbishment and buy another?

A. You can do that or alternatively we can help by refurbishing the computer for you - the machine would undergo our full refurbish process and a legal operating system such as Windows XP and all necessary software installed at cost, undergo our testing procedures including Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) to make sure it's fully functional and be returned to you for a small sum.

Prices for reinstalling and refurbishing a computer start at only £35.

Windows 7 Professional will only be installed if the system is fully capable of benefitting from the operating system.

 

Q. How secure is the personal data from my donated computer?

A. As soon as your computer is received by us, it's logged into our asset tracking system using the equipment's make, model and serial numbers, the system is then placed in an isolation area (so no information can be leaked over the internet) and any hard disks are securely and thoroughly erased using our specialist equipment and software. This ensures the complete eradication of all data at a hardware level to ensure no information survives on the system (including in the memory or operating system itself). The machine then undergoes a process that removes any personal or corporate identifiers including a search under UV light for 'invisible' markings. Only then will be proceed to decide whether the equipment can be reused or needs to be reduced to component parts.

See Data Deletion Standards.

 

Q. What are the benefits of disposing of our equipment through yourself?

A. All donated equipment that is above our minimum specifications is automatically classed as a charitable donation with tax benefits for the donor. We can provide a certificate confirming what equipment has been to donated to us as a registered charity to make it easier for your accountant to claim.

We will ensure that all your personal data is securely and permanently removed from the equipment.

Everything we do is for the benefit of our local community.

We use this donated equipment to provide quality work experience placements and train long term unemployed people, people who have previously experienced mental health problems, and volunteers in a wide range of ICT skills. The more people we train and help get paid employment, the better for the local economy.

Where possible, we will recondition and refurbish the equipment for reuse either by charitable and not-for-profit organisations or by people on low income, further reducing the environmental impact.

Every year we donate free of charge refurbished and reinstalled redundant computer systems to local community organisations and local good causes. This includes local charities as well as local organisations such as tthe British Legion, playgroups, art projects.

We also make our refurbished and reconditioned systems available at very low cost to low-income families and the general public who may not otherwise be able to afford this technology.  All of our equipment is sold locally at cost, we do not export computers or waste.

Our goal is to put your equipment to the best possible use. Your donated computer will be Refurbished or Reused, and any e-waste is Recycled.

  • Refurbish: Fortunately we regularly receive a number of high quality systems that are in good working order. If your donated system meets our minimum specifications and is in good working order, we will refurbish it.

    Refurbishing includes testing the hardware, installing a new operating system and a complete set of user applications, and then testing the whole system. Our testing procedures are demanding so that we can offer a 3 month hardware guarantee.
  • Reuse: Not all systems are acceptable for refurbishing, but we reuse as much as we can. Typically we reuse hard drives, memory and monitors. If we have more good components than we can use or if we receive high quality equipment that would not be useful, we may resell those items to help keep our costs as low as possible.
  • Recycle: That which we can not reuse or refurbish will be recycled locally for its material content.

We believe this is the greenest possible treatment of your equipment.

Equipment that is either damaged or below our minimum specification is reduced to component parts in-house and ethically disposed off locally.

All equipment that is not reusable by us will be disposed of responsibly, which supports our mission and supports the environment.

Any equipment that is not destined for reuse is reduced to its component parts on the premises with the exception of CRT monitors which are sent to a UK based re-processor.  All waste is reprocessed in the UK. We do not export any waste.  We are working toward zero landfill and currently achieve around 99%.

 

Q. What is the difference between the recycling service you provide and using the Council's public facilities?

A. When you take unwanted IT equipment to your nearest recycling centre, the equipment is placed as-is in a holding bin in a public area with any and all personal data still present until it is collected by a metal recovery company who may be located anywhere in the UK, whereupon the equipment is transported by road to their factory and either broken down to their component parts and recycled or even sent abroad for disposal. There are no guarantees given that components, such as hard disks will not be sold 'as is' complete with any data you left behind and parts of the computer without value may end up being incinerated or dumped into landfill.

However, when you donate your equipment through us, any hard disks and equipment are securely cleaned of all personal data, then it is fully tested for the possibility of reuse and is only recycled locally and completely if there are no other options.

 

Q. Do you collect I.T. equipment?

A. We are normally unable to collect individual computers from homes or businesses, however if there are at least TEN above minimum specification computer systems we can arrange a pickup for free provided the collection address is in Calderdale. If there are less than ten computers, the equipment is below our minimum specification, or the equipment is located outside of Calderdale, we will make a collection charge.

Calderdale residents can drop off computer equipment at our premises with prior notification for free. In certain extreme cases, one of our team of volunteers may be able to arrange to collect from a person's home but we cannot guarantee this and there may be a charge payable to cover the volunteer's costs and expenses. Please note, we cannot collect computer desks, televisions, fridges etc.

We will generally collect from anywhere within approximately 30 miles of Calderdale.

See our Pricelist for further details.

 

Q. I have a large number of computers I want to dispose of. How do I go about arranging for a collection?

A. Donating IT equipment could not be easier. If you have access to an email then please email us a brief description of what equipment you have and the quantity involved. Alternatively you can phone us to arrange an appointment time or to arrange a drop-off.

 

Q. I have a room filled with computers, some of them are probably not to your minimum specifications. How would you decide what to bill me?

A. You can carry out your own audit of the equipment you intend to donate to identify for yourself what does and what doesn't meet our minimum specification prior to contacting us. Send us the details and we will confirm your assessment when we collect.  Alteratively we can collect all the equipment and subsequently bill you for any equipment that is below our minimum standard. If you disagree with our assessment you are welcome to take your equipment back for disposal elsewhere though we may charge to cover the cost of data deletion which we have to undertake as soon as possible for your protection. To date, we have not received a single complaint from a donor regarding our charges being unfair and in certain cases we can elect to cap the collection charge.

Please note that the deliberate removal of hard disks, drives, memory etc. prior to collection will automatically result in the equipment being classed as non-functional and in such circumstances there will usually be a charge unless otherwise agreed in advance.

 

Q. What documentation will I need?

A. Equipment dropped off at our Centre by individuals does not require any form of documentation.

As from April 2009, all premises (homes or businesses) that produce hazardous waste (including computer equipment) are now exempt from registration with the Environment Agency if no more than 500kg of hazardous waste is produced in any particular year.

For organisations and businesses donating equipment we will provide you with a Consignment Note or Waste Transfer Note and we’ll provide you with a donor certificate after processing, listing the numbers and weights of all equipment collected and providing you with an asset list of all donated equipment.  If you are required to register your premises as a hazardous waste producer, we can help you to do that too.


Q. Are you fully legal and WEEE compliant?

A.Yes, we have all the appropriate permits, licenses and permissions to conduct our recycling operation and we are audited annually by the Environment Agency.  We are compliant with the European WEEE Directives and Waste and Consignment Note Regulations. All our permits and procedures are openly available for inspection if required.

Please read our Standards for more details.

 

Q. Is all donated equipment kept secure?

A. To ensure the total security of donated equipment on our premises we have CCTV systems both internally and externally that can be viewed at all times by key staff and a monitored alarm system which alerts the police as well as us. Our work area is kept fully secure and is located in a part of the Centre that is only accessible to staff.

Donated equipment is barcoded and booked immediately into our audit database system before being placed in our secure Reception and Triage section of the Centre (which is locked when not in use) where it remains until all personal data is deleted and identifiers are removed.

 

Q. Can I specify where my donation goes?

A. Due to our refurbishing process, all the computer equipment goes through a screening, evaluation, and teardown process that makes it improbable to assign a specific destination. However, if you choose to make a financial donation to cover the cost of reinstallation and upgrading, you can designate the agency or recipient of your choice provided they are able to collect from our Centre on completion.

 


Helpful Advice from those Friendly People at DOT-COMmunICaTions