I Need To Get Free Help With Fixing My Computer
Don't Let Computer Problems Get You Down!
"I need help fixing my computer!"... Sound familiar? If you've worked on a computer for any length of time (perhaps even a short time), you may have come across that dreaded day when you turn on your computer and it doesn't do what it's supposed to do for you- there is either an error message, somethings not loading right, you have a blue screen or any other array of computer mishaps that can happen. I have been in many situations when I needed help fixing my computer. Being in business for over 14 years and having a network of computers to manage and maintain, I've learned a lot over the years, mostly through trial and error- I've had hard drive crashes, printing output problems, corrupted disks, Internet and networking issues, and even the dreaded blue screen.
Since I've never gone to school for computers, most of my knowledge has been amassed by having to read PC books, asking help of other computer savvy friends or in some cases, resorting to an outside source to help me.Throughout the years it became clear to me that there were some things worth trying to fix myself, and other things I needed to call in an expert for. After all, we can't all be good at all things, and fixing computers is definitely not my bag. With the invention of recovery disks and the (sometimes) better support you can receive for your computers and printers, getting help has become a little easier over the years, but it can still be nerve racking sitting on the phone talking, and holding, and talking and holding- with tech support on the phone trying to figure out what's wrong with your system.
For my own working and sanity purposes, I've established a sort of "protocol" for what computer problems I will try to fix myself and others that I need help with:
I've established a 20 minute rule of thumb when dealing with computer problems. If I can't pretty much figure out what's wrong with my system in about 20 minutes I will do one of the following things:
1) If it's something that I feel I can fix in time, and I have the time and inclination to deal with the problem, I will chalk up an allotment of time to what I call "" a learning day" - which basically means I am willing to sacrifice time in order to figure out what the problem is, realizing that although I am sacrificing that time, the problems may not get resolved .B ut- I know I will certainly learn a lot that day- even if the problem doesn't get fixed (like how crazy I was to try to fix it in the first place!) -or-
2) I will access a website like http://www.techguy.org/ and I will ask ask questions in the hopes that I can resolve the problem. I have met some of the nicest and most helpful people at this site- even experts willing to give you free advice. Their motto over there is: "There's no such thing as a stupid question, but they're the easiest to answer!" .
If after trying both the above mentioned "fixes" and I still cannot resolve the problem - then it's time to CALL IN THE TROOPS OR CALL OUT TO THEM:
1) I will take my computer to an outside source to get if fixed -or-
2) I will have someone come in and fix it for me (my first option).
If you are a small business, time is money and sometimes it's just not worth trying to disconnect your computer and related hardware to take it somewhere to have it fixed, especially of you are using your computer for business. At this point it is usually very well worth the money to have an experienced person come in to help you solve your problems. I was fortunate enough to find a very reputable computer guy for business that actually would call me back right away when I had problems, would come to my house or business to help me, and had a wealth of knowledge about networking, installing printers, so and so forth. He saved my butt time and time again, and every dime I ever paid him was money very well spent. If you are considering having someone come to your business or home to help I would definitely recommend someone like Andrew to help you keep your sanity. Service of this nature can vary but you can usually expect to pay anywhere from $50 - $85 dollars an hour, but remember- what might take you days to fix might only take an experienced computer repairman a few hours, if even that (it's money well spent plus you won't turn grey in the process!)
If you do opt to take your computer out for repair - (this is always my last option but sometimes I have no choice) you can either:
a) Take it to a reputable local computer repair center ( this would be my first option) -or-
b) Take it so a larger retail chain which might mean you may have to leave your computer for days .... perhaps weeks.....perhaps months. The really big downside to this of course is having your computer gone for a long length of time without knowing what's wrong with it upfront, and you may still be unhappy once you get your computer back. This has happened to me a couple times, after waiting 2 weeks to get my computer back, only to find that it was still doing the very same things that it was doing in the first place (frustrating to say the least)
One of the things I didn't mention is paying for an extended service warranty on your computer when you purchase it: I have personally tried this too and had great success with Office Max and their extended service warranty program. Not only did they come out and replace my hard drive after 3 years when my warranty was almost up, but they also came out the same day. Great service and I was glad I had the service contract. Other service contracts I have entered into have not worked out so well -so I would encourage you to ask questions about what their protocol for fixing your computer is before you put your John Henry on the dotted line. Extended service warranties can be wonderful, but find out what you are paying for first - will they come on-site or will you have you package up your computer and send it them? (I once shipped out one of our business computer/plotters to get fixed and it cost me as much to send, box and insure it as it was for the cost for the repair)
So I've given you some options here for dealing with your computer problems- some "simple" advice if you will (is anything ever really simple with computers though?) I'm kind of stubborn and I usually try to fix my computer problems myself, but I also pretty much know when to throw in the towel now and have someone more qualified than me to get to the source of the problem, thus saving me my time and my sanity trying to figure out something I really don't know much about.
When it comes to computer breakdowns, trying to fix a problem yourself can one of the most frustrating things you will ever attempt. On the flip side though - if you are relatively confident you might be able to fix it yourself and you have the time - then maybe a learning day is in order (and you might save yourself a big chunk of money)
So my take on computer breakdowns now?
When it come to help with fixing your computer, know when to hold um, and know when to fold um. And if you gotta ask for outside help, find someone reputable, don't be afraid to ask them blunt questions and make sure you read those contracts!
(Dorsi Diaz is a freelance writer/publisher who writes on a variety of topics including small business help)
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