Online Computer Repair and Fix-it-Yourself Options
A reader asks: 'My computer is running slow and I think it might have a virus. What do you think of those online computer repair services? Are they reliable, or should I take it to a local computer repair shop?' Here's the scoop on remote computer repair services, and some free alternatives...
Computer Repair Via the Internet
When your computer breaks down, freezes up, or freaks out, your first response may be to call someone to come and repair it, or take it to your local PC repair guy. But before you pick up the phone or drag your computer out to the car, check out some of the online computer repair services that can often fix your computer right over the Internet.
Of course, if your computer won't even start up, or your Internet connection is not working, then online computer repair is not an option. But for many common problems, such as viruses, spyware, lost files, trouble with external devices, or security issues, an online repair service can be an excellent alternative. Here are some that you can try if the need arises:
Support.com provides online computer support for PCs and Macs, serving home and small business customers. They use remote computer technology to access your computer over the Internet, while you watch. The ability to directly access your desktop alows the tech support person to see what the problem is directly, rather than by a frustrating series of questions and answers over the phone. Support.com offers tech support any day or time for both computers and peripherals. For ongoing tech support, prices start at $19.99 a month or $199.99 annually. You can also get one-time tech support and pay a la carte. For $129.99, you can get "Diagnosis & Repair" to fix problems and optimize performance. Configuring a wireless network and securely connecting your devices costs $99.99. For $49.99, they'll help you hook up a new printer, digital camera, MP3 player or other electronic device.
Similarly, 24/7 Techies employs remote support tools and Microsoft certified technicians to securely access and fix your PC. Mac support is also available. Their diagnostic and computer repair software can find and remove viruses and other problems. They can also help with setting up a new computer, connecting a printer or scanner, configuring backups, and optimizing your computer's performance. A one-year unlimited 24/7 support package costs $199.95. They don't seem to offer any a la carte or one-time services.
Another option for online computer repair is your Internet service provider. If the problem has something to do with your internet router, the wiring, or your home network, it can sometimes be diagnosed or fixed remotely or over the phone. With my Verizon FIOS service, there's an online diagnostic tool called VZ Home Agent that can do that.
And don't forget, the company that made or sold you the computer might be obligated to help. Check your contract or warranty, you might even be entitled to free online repair assistance. If not free, Dell, Gateway and other computer vendors offer pre-paid computer support at reasonable prices.
A Word of Caution
Be wary of software advertised online that promises a "free scan" or "one-click fix". Some of these are genuine, but others are digital wolves in sheep's clothing. See my article on Computer Repair Software for details, and links to some free programs that really do work.
You should also be aware of the Fake Tech Support Scam. If you receive an unsolicited phone call from someone who claims to work for Microsoft, or your internet service provider, drop the phone and back away slowly. (Or just hang up.) These guys are scammers who will either take your money and do nothing, or plunk a nasty virus on your computer, allowing other crooks to use it for nefarious purposes.
Do It Yourself (Or With a Friend)
Lots of online help is available for people who want to find answers to their computer problems, and fix it themselves. Use the search box at the top of this page, to see if your tech support question has already been answered on AskBobRankin. I can also recommend two other sites, if you don't find the answer here. Leo Notenboom's Ask Leo site is a good resource for Windows problems, and Gary Rosenzweig's MacMost offers help with Mac issues. Both Leo and Gary are personal friends, and are trustworthy computer experts.
You can also find some excellent tips for D-I-Y tech support at the Geek Squad Self Help page. They offer free tips for setting up or troubleshooting a wireless network, online tools to scan for viruses, and many other topics.
Here's another option for people that have geeky friends. Using the same type of remote access tools that the paid services listed above employ, you can invite a friend to connect to your computer over the Internet. Your friend will be able to view your desktop, move your mouse, and hopefully diagnose and fix your problem. See my related article on Free Remote Access and Screen Sharing Tools for more information on how that all works.
Superuser is a site where anyone can ask a computer question. The downside is that anyone can answer, as well. I see a lot of wrong, unhelpful or just bad advice on sites like these. But Superuser has a system to help weed out the chaff. The idea is that the best answers will get voted to the top of the heap, and the bad advice will be flagged as such. Superuser is aimed at or computer enthusiasts and power users, and is free to use.
And finally, if you're not in a hurry, Protonic offers free computer support by email. Protonic has a worldwide network of quallfied volunteers that enjoy the challenge of helping people fix computer problems. Membership is free. After submitting your problem, a techie will reply via email, and help you find a solution.
Have you ever used an online computer repair service, or helped a friend via remote desktop access? Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 11 Jul 2013
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Online Computer Repair and Fix-it-Yourself Options (Posted: 11 Jul 2013)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved