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Computer Repair Guide

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Sooner or later almost every computer develops a glitch, error or problem that simple troubleshooting can't solve. It's time for more extensive repairs. Computer repair, however, often comes with headaches and frustrations because the source of the problem isn't obvious. Is it the hardware, the software, or a combination of both? A savvy computer owner takes a deep breath and follows a logical plan. When you determine that the problem is beyond simple troubleshooting (see "Tips to try before you call" below), there are several repair options.

Computer repair options

Following one or a combination of these paths can lead to a satisfactory solution. Starting with the manufacturer's technical support is often a logical first choice. Before contacting any service, however, prepare by looking up the information listed in the next section and recording it in one handy place.

Gathering diagnostic information before seeking help

No matter which repair path you select, you will need the following information. The more details, the better. Much of the configuration information is available from the documentation (invoices, papers and manuals) that came with the computer's hardware and software.

  • If the computer produced an error message, what did it say? (On a PC, you may be able to use ALT-Print Screen to place a copy of the error message on the clipboard.)
  • When does the problem occur? Is it when you turn the computer on or off? Is it when you are using a particular item such as the scanner or the printer? Or is it when you are using a particular program (for example, word processing, spreadsheet, game, desktop publishing, digital photography, etc.)?
  • Did you have more than one program running when problem occurred? What were the programs?
  • Did you recently install software, hardware, or both? If so, what?
  • Can you make the problem happen again? If so, what are the steps?
  • Who is the manufacturer of your computer and what is the model?
  • How much memory does your computer have (2GB, 4GB, 6GB)?
  • What size is the hard disk and how much space is available?
  • What is the processor (Intel Core i5, Intel Core i7, AMD A-Series, AMD Sempron, ) and what is it's speed (2GHz, 2.5GHz, 3.4GHz)?
  • What operating system does it use (Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP SP2, MacOS X Snow Leopard, MacOS X Mountain Lion, etc.)?
  • What is the model number and/or serial/identification number of the suspect hardware or software?
  • What is the version of the software? (Look at the "about" option under Help on the program's toolbar)
  • When did you purchase the suspect hardware or software?

Tips to try before you call

Before calling a technical service help line or repair technician, try these tips. (You'd be surprised how often these work.)

  • Turn the computer off, wait a couple of minutes (take a break), then turn it back on.
  • Check the cables (both ends) to make sure that none have come loose.
  • Update (if you can) and run your antivirus and antispyware programs. (You do have up-to-date antivirus and antispyware programs or services, don't you?)