Help With Your Computer: Where and How to Get It
Unfortunately, there’s no denying it. No matter how new or how well maintained our computers are, we all encounter computer problems sooner or later. The good news is that we don’t have to face them alone. There are a ton of resources available to walk us through computer issues but it may take a little knowledge in knowing how to access them. This article will show you how.
Accessing Help For Your Computer Problems
1. Remember help files. It’s funny, but people seem to forget that every computer and every program installed on a computer comes with its own help file. Even the operating system of a computer has a help file and it really should be the first place to look for answers. Help files are designed not only to guide the usage of a computer, they’re also designed to solve problems. Inside a help file, look for a section called, “Troubleshooting” (or something similar) when you need to resolve an issue. This section is reserved for solving problems specific to the software or hardware that you’re using. Generally speaking, pressing the F1 key will open the help file of the piece of software that you’re using.
2. Product websites. If you’re having a problem with a piece of software or with a hardware part, try the website of that software’s or hardware’s manufacturer. Most (if not all) manufacturer’s reserve a portion of cyberspace and dedicate it to support the products that they build. Microsoft’s help desk is good example. This can be especially useful if the problem is caused by your computer hardward, as opposed to software, because it might simply need an updated piece of driver software that is provided by the manufacturer.
3. Fan sites. That probably isn’t the most appropriate name for this resource, but there are websites that are dedicated toward supporting the users of a particular software program or piece of hardware. We’ve called them “fan sites” because the maintainers of these sites have no affiliation with the manufacturers that they support! Call them what you will, but their free help is immeasurable and without it, we wouldn’t have some of the wonderful workarounds and unique problem solving techniques that we have today. Nowadays, YouTube will almost certainly contain a video explaining how someone else has fixed their problems on their PC.
4. Usenet newsgroups, or Forums. Another underused resource on the Internet, Usenet/Forum newsgroups have hundreds of discussion groups dedicated to some of the most popular computer systems, operating systems, hardware manufacturers, and individual software programs. Sometimes, the representatives of these companies participate, but most of the time, the support in this group is user to user, which is just as valid because you’re working with a team of experienced people.
5. Support Lines. Another source for help that we shouldn’t forget are the support systems of various manufacturers. You can reach these systems by calling the phone number associated with the product that you’re having trouble with. Calls could be free, in most cases, or could be premium rate numbers, in which case be very careful … do you REALLY want to use a product from a business that profits from your support calls?
6. PC support groups or user groups are another option for help. These are groups that meet in libraries, computer stores, or other local areas and they discuss all sorts of issues related with a particular product. Even if you aren’t experiencing a computer or software problem, user groups are fun to participate in and they can help you network into other interests such as job or teaching opportunities. These may not be as popular in today’s age of social media as they were back in the early days of computing, but there are still some around … so I’m told.
7. Surprisingly, you may even get a helping hand from the salespersons at your local computer store. We don’t recommend that you make this your first pit stop when you experience a problem, but we don’t recommend that you rule this option out altogether either. Computer salespersons are hired for a reason – and that’s their knowledge. Often, these kind folks can help you resolve an issue over the phone and prevent you form having to buy a costly solution. Just remember that if you didn’t buy the product from that store, it’s less likely that their staff are going to help you!
As you can see, help is easy to find – You’ve just got to know where to look for it. Most of the contacts within these resources are extremely friendly and willing to take the time to walk you through a problem at little to no cost. From online discussion groups to the files on your own computer, help is often just a click away.
However, let’s not forget that today’s kids are more computer aware than most of their parents. Very often, asking your own, or a neighbours, child about a technical query and they will genuinely be able to help you. That’s because the school curriculum has evolved away from the squeaky scratch of chalkboards in my day and age to the soft thrumming whirr of a laptop.