Your computer has crashed, and you suspect you may have a major computer virus. What should you do? Most people immediately call the computer repair tech, and provide very little information except, “Let me know when it's ready, and I need it working as soon as possible!" The truth is that being prepared with key information in advance will make the repair process go much smoother, and can even save you some money for the repairs in the long run.
Before you call for help, here's some critical information you should compile for the computer technician repairing your computer. First, think about and write down all your computer needs:
If you think you have a virus, let the tech know which virus protection program you are using. Virus protection should be set up to automatically download updates to keep your virus program current, if it is not, say so. Your technician will want to know when you downloaded the last updates for the current virus protection program subscription.
If you develop sudden computer problems, try to write down what you were using the computer for, just before the problem occurred. If you get an error message or a blue screen, write down the information. The internet has a wealth of knowledge about computer problems. Sometimes you can just type in the error code and find a quick solution for your problem. Any information you can give the technician will expedite the repair, and therefore ultimately cost you less money for the repairs.
If you are having other computer problems, let the tech know any recent changes to your computer, including any applications you may have installed and any updates to the operating system. Whenever possible, keep track of updates to applications already installed on your computer, such as office programs, internet browsers, CD or DVD writing programs, photo editing programs, etc. He or she will also need to know all the hardware installed, or peripherals added to your computer such as printers, scanners, or digital cameras.
If you are having problems with the internet, be prepared to tell the tech the name of your internet provider. Note: Your internet provider is not always the same as your e-mail provider such as AOL or Yahoo or Hotmail or Live. Let him or her know where your DSL or cable modem is located or if you are on dial-up. You also need to be prepared to type in the security codes for the technician for your router if you have one on your home network.
Second, always keep passwords and security codes in a safe place. Memorized passwords are the best, but we are human and sometimes need to write them down. I recommend putting them on a notepad document on a floppy or flash drive that only you have access to. Do not leave the document on your computer, where hackers can find it or where it will get lost if your computer crashes.
Another suggestion is to get a small CD case to put all your software in. Don't forget to include the product keys! The technician might need them to uninstall and reinstall drivers or applications that may or may not be the cause of your problems. You also want to keep all the documentation for you computer together. The technician may suggest upgrades, and will need to know what type of hardware you have, so they can make the correct suggestions or purchases for upgrades.
When you do call, ask about the technician's qualifications, and if he or she will be able to help you fix all the problems you are having. Let the tech know whether it is operating system problems, application problems, or hardware problems, either inside or outside the computer.
If the the technician is repairing your computer on site, you should not hesitate to ask questions about what he or she is doing to complete repair. The tech should also be able tell you what they are doing in terms you understand, and if possible, show you how to prevent the problem from occurring again.
Finally, before the technician leaves, they should ask you if you have any other needs or questions. You may want to ask if there are any things you need to do to maintain your computer. Don't be afraid to ask him or her how to do them or how to set up maintenance tasks to occur automatically. I like to follow up with my customers a couple of days later to see if any other needs arise since the original problems were repaired, and if they are happy with the service they received.
Christopher Kingsley is the owner-operator of Crash Crew Computers and Networking, at http://www.computertechspecialist.com serving Ventura County including Oxnard, Camarillo, Ojai, and Santa Paula since 1997. Chris is CompTIA: A and Network Certified, a Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) and Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator (MCSA).
Chris Kingsley started out in the U. S. Navy as an Aviation Electronics Technician. He worked for a major Aircraft Manufacturer, modifying and maintaining Naval Aircraft electronic systems, and taught Navy Technicians how to maintain and use the new or upgraded systems installed.