What Constitutes a Computer Problem?
This seems like a dumb question, but it’s not. Your computer may be experiencing problems without your knowledge. Naturally, if your computer is running slow, making strange noises or acting differently than it does on a daily basis, you know you have a problem. But, what you may not know is that computer maintenance may help prevent future problems.
Before calling an Information Technology (IT) technician, go over the check-list below.
Available Tools Within Your Operating System (OS)
Disc Cleaner eliminates temporary files and cleans up unneeded files. Go to the “Start” button, then “All Programs” and then go to “Accessories”. Slide over to “System Tools” and there you find the Disc Cleaner and the Defrag button icons.
Temporary internet files are saved on your system every time you visit a website. Every site you go to is saved for possible future use. This takes up space on the hard drive. Once the disc cleaner is run, this space becomes available again, giving your computer more ‘breathing room’.
Like a messy desk, files get disorganized within the system. The defrag feature organizes these files so that the hard drive doesn’t have to search so hard for stuff. It will know where it is. Defrag should be done at least once a month, or once a week for business or heavy document use.
Updates should be automatically selected. The Windows OS will ask you if you want to update. Say yes, and restart if necessary. Updates protect the system from malicious software or applications that are sent through the internet.
Therefore, it is important to have your software updated on a regular basis so as to prevent any virus from taking over your computer, which is a big headache in hardware and require an Abingdon laptop technician to sort things out.
Internet Explorer 7 has a feature that blocks phishing. If you have Internet Explorer 7. Go to help on the top right hand corner or Internet Explorer to find out which version you have. If you want to, you can go to “Tools” and go to “Windows Updates” which will scan your system and tell you what you need to update.
Once you are updated, when you reboot your system, a screen will appear asking you which features you want on your system. Phishing is usually the second feature offered and when selected will protect your system from some outside harm.
Windows Defender (free) prevents adware and Spamware and is available by performing an internet search by the name Windows Defender. Make sure it directs you to the Microsoft website and not some fly-by-night Joe’s Software site. Once downloaded, the genuine license will have to be validated; say yes to any questions about validation if you own the computer. (If you have not had the most recent updates, downloads may be required first. It’s okay to say yes to these, too.)
Imperative. There’s no other word for it. If you don’t have it – get it. Make sure it’s updateable when the new version comes out. This is where saying “yes” to your updates on your computer comes in handy. Good Anti-Virus software, Norton Anti-Virus or MacAfee are good choices. Pricing starts at 40.00 a year and is worth every penny and will save repair problems in the future.
Note: Anti-virus programs are not cure-alls. It is prudent to carefully monitor the sites visited on your system. Also, users should still not open unknown e-mails or download anything from unknown sources.
When You Make the Call
Save yourself money by getting an over-the-phone consultation. Talking to your computer person by phone saves time and money for both parties. The IT person should know what the problem may possibly be so that he knows which parts, tools or wiring to bring.
If your person is reputable, the problem may be able to be fixed over the phone and if you are a reputable person, you’ll send a check for his time spent helping you.
He should be a good listener. Don’t let a computer person bully you with technical language. If you don’t understand what he’s talking about ask him to explain it. If he can’t – call someone else.
If the technician does not mention it, back up the data on your computer. If you don’t know how to do this, ask. It’s important to save documents, files, photos, etc. in a location separate from the computer in the event of catastrophe. No special software is required. Just save the stuff to a CD.
Documents saved on the desktop are not automatically saved when backing up other documents. Never store files on your desktop. Once deleted, they can not be recovered. Furthermore, it uses up your system’s resources and slows the overall performance of your system.
Questions to Ask
Some computer repair people specialize in one area. It’s important to know whether the person deals with hardware (the guts of your computer), software (the extra stuff you buy like QuickBooks, PhotoShop, or FictionMaster®, etc) or networking (wiring, printers and other stuff hooked to your computer). The best techie will know all three. Don’t be afraid to ask, “Do you know about hardware, software and networking, too?” This will not offend the professional.
Ask the tech to show you what the problem is. A good tech will be more than happy to show you his magic! Also, it helps you to better understand your system and builds trust in the service he is performing. A good tech will also let you sit before the monitor while he verbally walks you through the steps to prevent future problems. This familiarizes you with your system and also saves you money in the future.
How to Know if Your System is Really Fixed
A technician should not charge you a second time to come back and repair something that has recently been worked on. If he had fixed it properly in the first place, the call would not have to be made. Glitches happen and can more than likely be fixed over the phone. But a 90-day or so guarantee is not an outlandish request.
Note: If the technician, in good faith, returns to your home and (honestly) finds a problem that did not exist before, it’s certainly acceptable to pay him for that. For example, if one of the kids downloads something and attracts a virus – this may be a new problem. Or, if users continue to do what caused the problem in the first place, the technician cannot be held responsible.
Obviously, if the reason you called the tech in the first place is no longer existent, that’s good. But, if there is something else going on with your computer that was not going on before you called for service, pick up the phone and call him or her right away. Your computer should not be behaving strangely in any way and nothing should be missing from your desktop, your documents or your files.
Knowing your system better may prevent costly computer maintenance calls, but if you must make the call, make sure you’ve done all you can do on your own and always be willing to learn more about your computer.