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Old 12-01-11, 12:54 PM   #1
Bob Ross
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"Residential IT"? home PC tech support

So it's time to buy the missus a new computer, but considering how many headaches the last one yielded I'm hesitant to just order another of teh internetz. The problem is that I know nothing about PCs and the missus knows even less...and invariably when things start to misbehave (performance slowing down, hanging, crashing, etc.) we're both scratching our heads not just about What To Do but also Who To Call About What To Do.

At my job we have it easy: There's a 3rd party IT firm contracted to support our servers, networks, and every PC in the office. Anything goes wrong I just fire off an email to them, and they either remote in to my desktop or show up in person within 24 hours.

Of course, the price for that firm's commercial support is astronomical, totally out of the question for a single-user residential PC. But surely there are companies that offer that sort of support for clients like us? If so, I need to find one. And if that happens to be a service offered by someone who also sells PCs, I'll happily buy the PC from them too.

Any suggestions? Thanks.
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Old 12-01-11, 01:36 PM   #2
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Give her an etch-a-sketch, and call it a new-fangled tablet. Draw an Apple logo on it first with marker, then it's an iPad.
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Old 12-01-11, 01:38 PM   #3
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In my opinion that business would be difficult because in the corporate environment you can exert some degree of control and standardization. For residential users there are just too many variables to successfully support every configuration, application, and user skill level.

Still doesn't stop some people from trying. I don't use either of these but I hear some people have good luck with Staples and their "Easy Tech" support. Some people (fewer, from what I hear) like the "Geek Squad". YMMV.

You can probably find some local mom/pop that would support you too, but I'm guessing the experience would be much different from the corporate support you've described.
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Old 12-01-11, 02:10 PM   #4
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I do residential IT support for friends and family.

For a new computer, if you're satisfied with your current monitor, then just buy a new dell from dell or HP from best buy that's on sale. It's just so much easier that way.

alternatively, buy a tablet. Seldom do they break from software errors.
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Old 12-01-11, 02:24 PM   #5
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Both Best Buy and Staples provide this service. I'm sure there are others, including non-franchised local businesses.

I do this for charity. The requests range from putting a pile of gospel CD's on someones' new mp3 player to assembling a computer desk. However, malware removal is the most common request.
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Old 12-01-11, 02:58 PM   #6
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There should be a local place in your area. We have ClickAway and Computer Care here. I've known people who deal with ClickAway, and the Stanford Bookstore actually contracted out its PC repair to Computer Care a few years back.

I wouldn't touch Geek Squad with a 10-foot pole. They have a history of stealing files from people and poor customer service.
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Old 12-01-11, 03:09 PM   #7
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alternatively, buy a tablet. Seldom do they break from software errors.
Give this some serious thought, do you need a PC or will a tablet be sufficient? For computer newbs, I'd say tablet or Mac.
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Old 12-01-11, 03:22 PM   #8
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Tablet that supports a keyboard if you're so inclined.
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Old 12-01-11, 08:19 PM   #9
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Asus Transformer. It's a tablet and a netbook.

And, yeah, stay away from the Geek Squad. They charge like $99 to 'optimize' a computer. Mostly, they just go in and remove the 'bloatware', all of those free trial programs/apps. They also like to push a paid subscription a/v service like Norton, McAfee, and when my step-daughter bought her laptop, TrendMicro.

Staples tends to have quicker turn around times and are a bit cheaper, both on service and product.
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Old 12-01-11, 10:26 PM   #10
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Aren't there any teen agers in your area?
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Old 12-01-11, 10:59 PM   #11
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Aren't there any teen agers in your area?
Speaking of which, whatever happened to Hickeydog?
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Old 12-02-11, 08:15 AM   #12
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Aren't there any teen agers in your area?
LOL! We've had pretty bad experiences with the local "freelancers" which is why I'm leaning towards a more formal, corporate solution this time around.

I also really like the ability to have the tech support remote in to our PC and fix stuff without having to come to my house, and I suspect the legal/security aspects of that service are beyond the scope of my next-door neighbors' kid even if he does know how.
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Old 12-02-11, 08:56 AM   #13
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My humble suggestion would be to talk with small businesses (under 20 employees) in your area. Find out who they use for tech support. Does the tech support business offer remote troubleshooting? What is the opinion of the tech support business' customer service? If you're looking for remote troubleshooting, you might be able to find a tech support business outside your immediate area, but no so far that it would be a hassle to bring your PC to them should you need to. For some tech support businesses that support other small businesses, residential support might be something they also offer, while maintaining professional standards at reasonable rates.
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Old 12-02-11, 08:56 AM   #14
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Honestly just take a bit of time to educate yourself about computers. It's not that hard for the most part. Also don't install bunch of random crap. Most of the time it's the main reason for "slow downs" and "issues".
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Old 12-02-11, 06:40 PM   #15
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Get her a Chromebook.
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Old 12-02-11, 07:25 PM   #16
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For a new computer, if you're satisfied with your current monitor, then just buy a new dell from dell or HP from best buy that's on sale. It's just so much easier that way.
A year ago we bought a Dell computer (no monitor) from the outlet for $300. It's just a basic tower with Windows 7. We use internet, MS Office/Open Office, some GIS software and graphics software (CorelDraw). We have had zero problems with it.
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Old 12-02-11, 11:23 PM   #17
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Get frustrated and learn to do your own IT work. It's worked for me, though I did buy this shirt:

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Old 12-03-11, 12:32 AM   #18
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Remote tech support won't work if PC gets a virus that screws up internet connectivity (which I suspect has happened to OP before). The best solution on these cases is to learn how to backup/restore. Now days, calling a PC tech for this things is like calling Triple AAA to change a flat tire.
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Old 12-03-11, 12:34 AM   #19
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LOL! We've had pretty bad experiences with the local "freelancers" which is why I'm leaning towards a more formal, corporate solution this time around.

I also really like the ability to have the tech support remote in to our PC and fix stuff without having to come to my house, and I suspect the legal/security aspects of that service are beyond the scope of my next-door neighbors' kid even if he does know how
.
They copied your personal pics and posted them on youtube?
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Old 12-03-11, 09:30 AM   #20
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Remote tech support won't work if PC gets a virus that screws up internet connectivity (which I suspect has happened to OP before). The best solution on these cases is to learn how to backup/restore. Now days, calling a PC tech for this things is like calling Triple AAA to change a flat tire.
We are not very computer savvy but we have learned to fix computer and internet problems ourself by web searching for our symptoms and error messages. A lot of people will post their solutions to similar problems. It's not rocket science.
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Old 12-03-11, 10:30 AM   #21
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Do you have a local college campus nearby? If so, contact the Computer Science department and inquire about any college kids that might be interested in earning a few extra $$ as an IT consultant.
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Old 12-03-11, 03:12 PM   #22
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Geek Squad?
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Old 12-03-11, 03:29 PM   #23
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Yeah, this is basic maintenance and there's no reason you need to pay $150/hr for a corporate-level IT SLAs.

1. get an external 2tb hard-drive with imaging software for backups (Ghost, Acronis, etc.)
2. call Geek Squad (or equivalent teenager) to set up regular schedule to image your ENTIRE hard-drive to external HD
3. call Geek Squad when things break and they'll copy last image from external HD back to PC

A lot of times the corruption from viruses and malware is just too severe. You'll spend less time wiping everything out and restoring the last working copy of your system. One good thing about the Acronis imaging is the Universal Restore feature that lets you restore your image to different system hardware, like a new PC box. You'll get to install hardware-specific drivers during the restore so Windows won't crash on start-up due to the different system. I with there was TimeMachine for PCs.
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Old 12-03-11, 04:08 PM   #24
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Yeah, this is basic maintenance and there's no reason you need to pay $150/hr for a corporate-level IT SLAs.

1. get an external 2tb hard-drive with imaging software for backups (Ghost, Acronis, etc.)
2. call Geek Squad (or equivalent teenager) to set up regular schedule to image your ENTIRE hard-drive to external HD
3. call Geek Squad when things break and they'll copy last image from external HD back to PC

A lot of times the corruption from viruses and malware is just too severe. You'll spend less time wiping everything out and restoring the last working copy of your system. One good thing about the Acronis imaging is the Universal Restore feature that lets you restore your image to different system hardware, like a new PC box. You'll get to install hardware-specific drivers during the restore so Windows won't crash on start-up due to the different system. I with there was TimeMachine for PCs.
Note that Acronis TrueImage Home doesn't come with Universal Restore unless you pony up for the Plus Pack.

On the original topic, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and I have a link in my signature with some info on that. About half the security problems on Windows end-user systems are caused by the user, so user education about scareware and other Trojan Horse tactics is very valuable. For the rest, mitigation tactics can cover nearly any likely attack method, ranging from infected portable devices to network worms to software exploits.
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