Where Do Pros Turn for Help?

Working in an information technology department can be challenging since almost every device and piece of software comes with its own pitfalls for the end user and, ultimately, the people they turn to for help.  I have seen everything from marshmallows in a CD drive to the newest virus that has no known cure.  People often ask how I learned to fix all these weird issues and while experience plays a part, the secret is really to just know where to turn for help.  With that in mind, here are some places to turn when your PC (or other electronic device) decides to go a little crazy.

Hardware Tips from TFS Networks – Before you get started on your quest for a solution, try to get an idea of what may be causing the problem.  IT pros often turn to each other and ask, have you seen this before?  One spot to start for the home DIYer is this well-arranged article by Greg Eddolls, an IT consultant who has listed the various PC components and the symptoms they exhibit when they fail.  The article is a good starting point for a diagnosis and should be used in conjunction with tools provided by the hardware manufacturer.  For example, the first tip is about P.O.S.T. codes, so you will need to consult the PC manufacturer to see what each code means.  A Google search for the manufacturer, model and post codes should bring up a list explaining the beeps and flashing lights.

FixYa – The website that literally asks, What’s Your Problem?  Type something in the box and you will get a page to enter more details, such as the model number and a brief description of your problem. This website goes beyond PCs and covers both mechanical and software issues.  The extremely comprehensive site covers everything from EKG machines to electric scooters.  The tips are provided by average users, but answers and users are rated so you can avoid mistakes if you see a solution gets bad feedback or if a person who answered a question has a low point rating.  If there is no solution to your problem in the database, you can submit a question for an expert to answer.

Bleeping Computer – This is another user-driven website that provides a good deal of information that even a basic user can pick up and use to solve most PC problems.  For one-stop solution shopping, the site features tutorials, virus removal and program removal instructions in addition to user forums.  Even if you don’t have a problem, but just want to learn how to do something, like how to rearrange the icons on your iPad screen, you will probably find the information you need on this site.

Computer Hope – This website is similar to Bleeping Computer, but has a few more help areas and tips that are geared toward beginners.  In addition to the usual tips and forums to help you fix problems, the site features a dictionary of terms, news and a handy links section.  The site is especially useful for locating contact information for the different manufacturers, including how to find drivers for different types of products (like the 4 year old printer that you can’t reinstall because you lost the CD).  There is even a handy checklist of what to have on hand before you call tech support.

GetHuman – Since all problems can’t be fixed without some help from a manufacturer, you may find yourself needing to call and putting it off to avoid the confusing menu options and funky music.  If this is the case, turn to GetHuman for tips on how to contact different companies.  The site lists the phone, chat, e-mail and other options for contacting thousands of companies.  Each listing includes a ranking of the contact options, so pay attention to this to get an idea of how to get the fastest answer.  Keep in mind one important rule – your contact preference may not be the best option, so don’t assume every company will handle phone calls well or that everything can be solved via e-mail.  Instead, use the company preference for the best results.

- Laura N


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