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Home PC Repair 101: Understanding The Fundamentals


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Home PC Repair 101: Understanding The Fundamentals

When my youngest son's laptop suffered a sudden hard drive failure, I was struck by how little I actually knew about how to fix it - or if it could be fixed. After talking with my local technical support and computer repair specialists, I decided it was time to learn. I didn't want to find myself in a similar position again without some idea of what I could do about it. I spent months researching the logistics of computer repair and how the components worked together. That's when I realized that although computers are in so many homes, many other people are just like me - unsure how to deal with computer problems. I created this site to help solve that problem. I hope the information here helps you to demystify your home computers and the problems you might have with them.

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How Do You Talk To Technical Support?

Calling internet service technical support--or any kind of customer support--is a major challenge for many customers. Some people are content to just complain about a problem and either hope for a fix or quit the service, but when service area monopolies or good deals that you'd like to keep are on the line, the art of the chat is necessary. If you're not great at calling support, or don't feel like you have the technical backing to hold an informed conversation, here are a few ways to keep yourself in the know while giving technical support reps the information they need.

Know Your Problem Category

It's not good enough to say that your internet is "not working." Although it becomes the technical support professional's job to play guessing games and perform some inspection to get the information out of you, if you actually care about getting your service fixed, you'll at least be ready to report the correct problem.

When your internet isn't working, does it mean that you can't visit a certain website? Is it specific websites? Explain what you were trying to do, such as visiting YouTube or checking your e-mail. Make sure to check other websites to make sure that one specific website isn't the problem--if it's just one site, your problem is with that site, not your technical support agent.

If your internet is slow, how do you know it's slow? Is the website loading, but over a slow amount of time? Again, the specific website may be having problems, so confirm other website performance first.

Can you access internet on your wired/cable-connected computer, but not your wireless device? Be sure to check both ways of connecting to figure out if it's a specific type of internet access giving you a problem.

Knowing About Disconnects, Speed, And Consistency

The major internet issues will be slow performance, complete loss of connectivity, or consistency issues that can seem like either of the first two problems.

Slow performance should always be tested with an internet speed-testing website, such as Speedtest.net or DSLReports.com. These sites will show your current speed in a way that matches your Internet Service Provider (ISP) plan. If different websites for speed tests aren't loading at all, it's understandable that you won't have much information for technicians. Just try to run tests once or twice; you don't need to wait on these results to call technical support.

It can be hard to tell if your internet is disconnecting unless it happens for long periods of time or on a consistent basis. People who play online games or watch online videos may notice their services being interrupted, and major operating systems such as Microsoft Windows or Apple OS X will have indicators showing a loss of connectivity.

Consistency is the hardest to prove. Speed tests can show up as accurate, but you may not always be able to reach a website. Information can arrive quickly, but with a high failure rate that isn't visible unless you happen to be playing a game or watching a movie while running a speed test to confirm failure during adequate speeds.

With some information on your side, contact your ISP technical support and discuss the symptoms of your problem for a well-informed discussion and a more accurate fix.