Techsperts Talks About is where you’ll find our favorite technology tips, tricks, and information. In this, our fifth and final post of the series, we’ll explain where you can find first aid for your minor PC woes. Problems happen. Especially with technology. If this wasn’t the case, then there would be no security holes to be plugged, no software patches to be released, no updates and service packs to be applied, no bugs to be fixed. Until we live in a perfect world, there will be computer problems. So what can you do to fix them? First of all, know your own limits. If you’re not comfortable “opening up the hood” of your computer and tinkering with settings, don’t. Call a tech-savvy friend, or give Techsperts Services a ring. But if you want to have a go at solving an annoying small-scale issue, you can get some help from a fantastic thing known as the Internet—as long as you look in the right places.
Finding PC Help You Can Count On Let’s use a common example: a non-starting program. How would you remedy this annoying snafu?
Set a system restore point. If things go tragically wrong, a system restore point will undo all the changes you’ve made without affecting your other files. Usually, Windows automatically sets up restore points for you. To check this out, run the System Restore program before you do anything else. If there is no recent restore point, create one and exit the program. This is your fallback position, just in case.
- With this is place, proceed to scan the web for help, but scan smartly. We recommend three places to search:
- Reputable sites and magazines (like PC Mag, Laptop Mag, PC World, and About.com’s computer troubleshooting page).
- Microsoft’s support page, which provides mid-level users with easy-to-follow advice on all MS programs and gadgets.
- A company-backed product forum (like this one for Norton 360), especially one that is monitored by employees. Tread with care when you visit forums; not all solutions are vetted by experts, and they may not work for you. Some, in fact, may be harmful to your PC, especially for inexperienced users
- Once you find what you’re looking for, write or print the directions. (Trust us, you’ll be glad you did.) And take a deep breath.
When You Should Not Try to Fix Your Own PC Problems If you’re dealing with an errant piece of software, such as a word processor that won’t open a file, your troubleshooting attempts should be confined to that program. At worst, you may find yourself uninstalling and reinstalling that app. Unless you’re an experienced user, be very wary of doing anything that will affect your system’s settings (such as changing startup programs or trying anything with the BIOS). When in doubt, call a pro first and troubleshoot later. This has been the final post in our Techsperts Talks About series. Did you miss one? Start fresh with our first post, a review of tech-related websites.