Byte is a unit of digital information, and while most agree that San Diego does not bite — check the weather, the scenery, the seasons – we do rely on bytes here. San Diegans’s use of computer devices is as ubiquitous as our car culture. And like our cars, our data-driving machines sometimes break down. That’s when we scramble for a reliable and honest mechanic.
“People rely on their computers every day and some people feel lost without them,” says Shannon Isselhardt, owner of SD Bytes computer repair in Grantville. “So I try to turn them around as fast as I can while keeping customers in the loop so they know what’s going on.”
Located near the crossroads of Mission Gorge and I-8, at 10433 Friars Road, those who bring their computer-repair needs to SD Bytes eventually square up with similar five-star Google reviews:
“Shannon went above and beyond our expectations.” — Gil A.
“The owner of SD Bytes is skilled, talented, honest, and ethical.” — Bruce L.
“I have had the opportunity to use Shannon for both personal and business computer issues … I highly recommend [him]. He is extremely reliable and, most importantly, honest.” — Stacey B.
“Great customer service! Awesome decor!!” — George T.
Another thing customers of SD Bytes would all agree on is that Shannon has a unique style. His curated collection of antique tools, typewriters, signage, and even a Wurlitzer jukebox, makes visiting SD Bytes a cultural experience, like a visit to a museum exhibit or a cool diner.
“I designed my shop to be like an old ’50s garage,” said Isselhardt. “My thinking was to have a computer garage with old tools and art mixed in with new technology. I wanted to stand out from all the other computer repair shops, and it just so happens that this is also what I’m interested in hot rods and antiques.”
How interested? Every year, Isselhardt packs up his five-window Chevy pickup and heads to Nevada for the Viva Las Vegas meetup event to celebrate all things cool. It’s an annual analog tribute to the classic character of the post-war era.
Back in today’s digital era, Isselhardt has gone all-out to make his very own tribute to Americana, decking the walls of SD Bytes with lovingly selected art and hand-me-downs from his own family. In a way, Isselhardt has become a high-tech grease monkey.
“My dad influenced my aesthetic taste by way of his music, which was Johnny Cash, older country music, and 1950s rock ‘n’ roll,” Isselhardt said. “And my aunt and uncle always had old hot rods and taught me how to work on my car.”
Isselhardt’s passion for such rockabilly sensibilities is matched only by his work ethic. And excellent customer service is only part of it. In fact, his computer troubleshooting experience goes back a few decades.
“This wasn’t my first job. When I was 19 years old and working for a professional photographer, I had to build a Windows machine to test the digital download from the new digital Nikon camera,” he said. “I believe NASA used the same camera model on the first space shuttle expedition.”
Since then, Isselhardt has positioned himself among the dozens of San Diego repair shops with a reputation for honesty and integrity. He also has become an expert on fixing everything from cracked phone screens to liquid damaged laptops and saving otherwise lost files on bad hard drives.
“There isn’t any computer-related repair that I haven’t been able to fix,” Isselhardt said. “The only reason something wouldn’t get repaired is if the customer declined repairs due to the cost of the parts or I suggested that it wasn’t worth it.
Interestingly, building custom hot rods isn’t much different from another specialty of Isselhardt’s. Custom gaming machines, water cooled like so many V-8s, have become very popular. Building these demanding computers is an emerging hobby, and many local gamers have found SD Bytes to be their go-to resource for fair and reasonable service.
“There are a lot of companies who build custom PCs but they overcharge everyone and upsell hardware the customers typically don’t ever use,” said Isselhardt.
“We can work with just about any budget and will never sell them something they won’t use or need. If you’re a basic gamer who plays on the weekends, you don’t need a $6,000 PC. We can make you a custom machine that will more than fit your needs and save you money in the long run.”
Interest in the community is another Isselhardt virtue. Owing much to his own daughters’ involvement in school and scouting, SD Bytes gives a lot back to the youth around him.
“I have two girls (ages 7 and 10) and both are in the Girl Scouts. That is how I opened my doors to them and learned that the scouts have a computer badge they can earn. I have always enjoyed helping others, almost to a fault sometimes. Sometimes, I feel I do more free work than paid projects out of my shop,” he added.
Isselhardt concludes, “I keep my prices at a very competitive rate as the majority of my customers don’t have a lot of money to just go out and buy a new computer. So I try to be as fair as possible with everyone. And all of my customer reviews on yelp and on Google are great testimonials to my work.”