Computer Help - Trouble-Shooting
When you get a problem, "who ya gonna call?"
Try these suggestions!
The gold cup
symbol indicates an outstandingly good source of help.
- Did you get a strange error message or behaviour?
- If so, simply try searching Google for that message or behaviour. This often provides good answers to your problem without looking any further.
- Are things getting progressively worse on your PC?
- There are two things that are always worth trying after something has been messed up, before calling for help.
- If one or more web sites are misbehaving (eBay, Google Mail and StumbleUpon are typical culprits), try deleting all your temporary internet files and cookies (how?) A cookie is a small data file that keeps track of what you were last doing at a particular site. A cookie that's messed up goes on repeating the same mistakes each time that you connect to a site. A cookie can get messed up if you're halfway through doing something when a glitch occurs (it becomes a half-baked cookie, so to speak). Deleting cookies means that you have to re-enter passwords or login when you first go back to a site that used that cookie, but it's worth the minor inconvenience. You don't have to keep deleting cookies unless you run into trouble again.
- The other thing worth trying (if you are using Windows) is to clean (find and fix problems in) your Windows Registry, on which everything running on your PC depends. This is important but needs to be done in a totally reliable fashion, since if the cleaning operation messes up then you are really messed up. The only tool I trust to do this is Registry Mechanic (but I haven't tried them all). It doesn't cost much and it is really fast, simple and rock-solid reliable - strongly recommended.
- If you have never cleaned your registry then I can guarantee that it is full of problems... cleaning it will make a big difference. You can get Registry Mechanic here (the download is free for an unlimited trial period but you should then pay a few dollars for the supported full-feature version).
- This is a great free service where you can select from a wide range of topics (including but not limited to a whole batch of topics under the general heading of Computing/Technology) and you'll then find profiles of helpful people with various areas of expertise who will only be too glad to help you!
- Thanks to my sister for recommending this one.
- Microsoft's support site, where you can search the MS Knowledge Base, download software, and much more.
- If you have a problem with anything to do with Microsoft, searching the knowledge base will often get you the right answer (even if you don't like it!).
- PC Advisor Helproom Forum
- A free service of the UK-based PC Advisor Magazine. You have to register, but you'll get access to a wealth of information on almost anything to do with PCs and software.
- If you don't find an answer to your problem straight away, ask a question and you may well get a good answer within minutes.
- Lockergnome's Problem Solvers
- "Lockergnome is pleased to offer the largest (and the most comprehensive) technical support forums on the internet. With a large number of fresh posts and replies about Microsft Windows, Microsft Office, Computer Networking, Mobility, Consumer Electronics, and Games, we strives to be your destination technology bulletin board. If you don't find an answer by simply searching the forums, you can join (FREE) and post your own question / answers.
- "We integrate content from our existing community forums and information from relevant usenet newsgroups to bring you the information you need, in a user-friendly format!"
- Another good recommendation from my sister.
- microsoft.public.windowsxp.* (several newsgroups for Windows XP users, accessed via Google Groups)
- Usenet newsgroups (discussion forums) are a great place to get help on a wide variety of subjects.
- If you can't subscribe to these directly, you can still access and post to them at Google Groups, which maintains a searchable 20 year archive of over 700,000,000 Usenet articles.
- Black Viper's Operating System Guides
- This is just part of a really useful site that provides great help on all kinds of software topics. Its home page is here.
- XP users should check out the vast amount of useful information in Black Viper's Windows XP Home and Professional Service Configurations and Windows XP Strange Service Information. But there's lots more good stuff.
- If you found this page useful...
...then check out my General Computer Information page, which
includes pointers to helpful information on computers, pointers to free and open source software, and a new section on Windows 7.
- If you are interested in digital photography or image manipulation, then you might be interested in my Beginner's Guide to Photoshop, a major addition to this site that opened in February 2010.
- It contains stuff that you might find useful even if you don't have Photoshop.