Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tech Support in Your Pajamas

We have a lot of great computer support pros in our neighborhood. But even the best of them have to sleep for at least three hours a night. When your computer starts going haywire at 11pm or on holiday, who are you going to call? What can you do?

There are three things you can do to solve your problem. The first is, of course, Google it! Chances are good that somebody has experienced the same problem you're having, and there's a solution out there somewhere. So type into Google (or Bing or whatever your favorite search engine is) the error message or a simple English language description of your problem and see what comes back.

The second thing you can do is to find an appropriate forum and post your question there. YahooGroups has zillions of technology forums, and there are others throughout the Internet. I've had great success using computer forums.

If neither of these approaches helps, let remote tech support take control of your computer. I've used this a couple of times and there's nothing quite like having somebody do everything for you. (Unless you enjoy doing all the uninstalling, reinstalling, editing configuration files, and rebooting, over and over again.) If your computer is under warranty, your computer manufacturer may be able to do this -- ask them if they can remotely control and repair your computer. If not, you can avail yourself of a commercial remote control computer fix-it service. These services are on call 24 hours a day and are great if your regular in-home IT person (your teenager) is busy doing homework. Tech-by-remote companies can deal with a wide range of software problems, including computer viruses. As long as you can connect to the Internet, you can use a remote repair service.

PC Remote Repair,, can fix operating system and major application problems. You can call them at 866-947-7277 for a free estimate. They can also set up applications and perform wireless network diagnostic and repair. PC Remote Repair also has a $150 annual maintenance plan that includes phone support, in case you can't connect to the Internet.

Supportspace,, is an innovative service that connects you to an expert. You can either select a specific problem (such as file recovery, which costs $79) or choose an expert based on that expert's description and customer rating. I like being able to choose the tech support person rather than relying on chance.

PC On Demand,, is another service that can fix your computer remotely. PC On Demand's prices vary from $59 to $160 per hour, depending whether or not you're a previous customer or if you need immediate service.

iYogi,, is one of the top-rated remote repair services. iYogi, which employs Microsoft Certified Technicians, offers an annual service contract for $140. (They don't have a la carte pricing.) Call them for more information at 800-237-3901.

Remote Repair Net,, also tackles a wide array of computer problems. Remote Repair Net does not charge your credit card until the problem is fixed. They offer a $24.95 a month all-you-can-eat support plan, too, if your computer's software is accident-prone.

Live Tech Online Support,, will diagnose and solve your computer problems. Like the other online tech support services, they'll do most everything for you by taking control of your computer. You can get an estimate from Live Tech Online Support at 866-548-3349.

Through Crossloop,, you can hire an expert who can deal with the particular problem you're having, such as a networking problem, iPhone sync problem, or Microsoft Outlook problem.

Finally, if you happen to have a tech savvy friend or relative --a willing one-- you can install remote control software on your computer that will allow your friend to access your computer remotely and do the repairs for you at no cost (or in exchange for a nice dinner out or walking their dog for them in the rain at 6am.) Symantec's PC Anywhere,, Remote Desktop Control, , and Access PC Remote, , are three programs that you can install to let you turn a friend or family member into your computer's indentured servant.

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