Trouble Shooting Your Computer

So you think you need tech support...

You're having computer trouble and you just can't seem to fix the problem.
It looks like you're going to have to call tech support. But have you tried
everything? There are a few things you should always try before you resort
to tech support. Also, there are certain things you should do to prepare,
to make your service call go as quickly and easily (and inexpensively) as
possible. Who knows - you might even end up solving your own problem!

1. Before you panic

There are a few things that you should always try before you conclude that
you're doomed. During the course of any 'pre-panic' action you take, it's a
good idea to document certain information as it appears, in case you end up
in the hands of tech support. Begin by jotting down the original sequence
of events that led to your problem. If you get an error message at any
point, COPY IT DOWN EXACTLY AND THOROUGHLY, including any error codes. (You
may find it helpful to employ the screen capture techniques we described in
our previous Tip.)

If you're having a problem with anything external - i.e. your speakers,
monitor, mouse, keyboard, modem or network card, external disk drive, etc. -
it's always a good idea to check the cables. Sometimes, you'll find that
something has come unplugged or disconnected and simply plugging it back in
solves your problem.

If all your cables are the way they should be, the next thing to try is a
reboot. If you can't access the 'Start' menu for whatever reason, press
'CTRL + ALT + DEL', and a window should pop up; if it does, press 'CTRL +
ALT + DEL' again to reboot. If a window doesn't pop up and/or you can't
restart or shutdown properly, you're left with only one option - to
improperly shut off your machine. To do so, press your computer's power
button and hold it until your computer shuts off. Count to 10 before you
turn it back on.

When (and if) your machine boots back up, repeat the sequence of events that
led to your original problem. If you still have a problem, it's probably
not an easy fix. Before you go on, you may want to attempt another reboot,
or even shut your machine down entirely for a few seconds.

A word of warning: if at any time you find that you can't boot, can't log
on, or can't work within Windows for whatever reason, we recommend that you
contact us or another tech support agency.

2. Look for a solution online

Chances are that many people have had the same problem you're having now,
and there may be a detailed solution posted somewhere on the web. To start,
navigate to the website of the vendor of the applicable software/hardware.
Look for 'Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)', 'Help', 'Support', 'Knowledge
Base', and that sort of thing. If you can't find anything this way, there
should be a 'Search' field within the vendor's website: enter key words and
search. (If you got an error message, put in its exact text or error code.)

If the applicable company's website doesn't help you, don't lose hope -
there are many online support forums that allow users to post questions and
answers. Do a 'Google' search (as per our previous Tip) for key words
relating to your problem, and browse the results. You may find that someone
has already asked about your problem and gotten a response. If you're still
stuck after all this, you probably do need tech support after all. Keep an
eye out for a future Tip on contacting tech support.