I can fix your computer for free!

As vets are to animals, computer support is to computers and the internet. Without help, many people would be unable to use their computers, possibly throwing it out and buying a new one. This would be bad for the environment and the users. Computer stores, not so much.

You are probably aware that large electronic stores have their own computer support, called a team, or squad or whatever a collection of geeks is (concatenation?).The upside is there is always support, the downside, it isn’t cheap.

As someone who has supported companies, friends and families, the most common issues are pretty easy to resolve and don’t require paying by the hour, or even buying someone a coffee. Here are a couple of suggestions for your issues.

I am concentrating on Windows because if you own an apple product, you only respond to iHelp and if you are using linux you probably know what you are doing.

At least 50 percent of your problems can be resolved by something we like to call ‘rebooting’. When you ‘reboot’ you are shutting down windows and turning off the computer. Then when you are sure that there is no longer any movement from the hamster in your computer, turn it back on again.

If you are unable to get onto the internet, turn off your modem and router if you are using one. Wait for about a minute and turn them back again. You would be surprised how often this works. If this doesn’t work, try ‘rebooting’ your computer as well.

If your problem does not prevent you from accessing the internet, use it! Google your problem. If the issue is program specific, look for the website of the softwares producer. Likewise if the issue is hardware, it may simply be a need for updated drivers so visit their website. Chances are if you are having an issue, there are other people out there on the internet who are also having the same issue.

If it is a recurring issue, take note of what you are doing before the issue strikes, what programs are open, as much information as possible because if someone asks, you can give it. This is especially important when speaking to a support person over the phone. They cannot see what you are doing so you have to describe in detail what is going wrong and what you were doing when it happens.

Of course, all the above is of no use if your computer no longer boots up. Depending if the light at the front of the computer is on or not, check that the power cable hasn’t fallen out. If the computer sounds like it is working but nothing appears on the monitor, check that the cables are connected to both the monitor and the computer.

These seem like obvious suggestions but when you are panicking and worried about your crops on Farmville, you may not be thinking straight.

Another suggestion. If you have precious photographs on your computer that you really don’t want to lose, think about uploading them to a photo website such as Picasa, where depending on the amount of images, it can be free or a very small amount per year to have your images safe. It is safer than burning a DVD/CD, can be accessed from any computer, can be set to automatically updated and upload your images, and you won’t lose them. Better to prepare for the worst rather than trying to recover.

If you do have to call computer support for your internet provider, please try to be nice. It isn’t their fault you are having problems. They really are trying to help you and people who work on helpdesks do have feelings.

And if all else fails, it is always good to have a friend who knows how to do things!

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