So you have a dilemma. Your computer is broken and, like the rest of us, you have come to depend very heavily on your computer so right about now you are probably about to totally freak out and hit panic overload mode. Am I right?
There are so many questions like "Why Me?" Egypt "Why Now?" or "What am I going to do?" Egypt …. OK so you get the idea. Once you calm down and get back to thinking clearly, the main pressing issue will become clear. "Where can I get this computer fixed?" That is the real question, is not it?
Well, that's where the real problem actually begins. You see, good help is hard to find, or so they say. You could call the manufacturer of your machine. Usually they have a toll free number and are more than glad to assist you. The only problem with that is that every person I have ever talked to who has had this type of problem has called the experience a total nightmare. That is not to say that the manufacturer technical support is not good and that there are people out there who have had a good experience going this route, I just do not happen to know any of them.
Usually one of two things happens; either the machine is out of warranty and that means you have to pay an arm and a leg to even get support or purchase an extended warranty (or the manufacturer offers it) or, the more common scenario, involves being on the phone for hours, usually on hold and going through multiple transfers to get to the "right department" and then spending more time on the phone listening to a "technician" trying to walk you through some troubleshooting. 9 times out of 10, you get someone from another country that you can not understand very well to begin with and then, even if you do get someone who English you can understand, since you yourself are not technical, you still have problems understanding what it is they are trying to instruct you to do.
Now, let's say that the previous option feels something daunting and you want to try something else. You could always try going to one of the major retailers. There are a few problems with this method as well. First of all, Circuit City has gone out of business. Not that they were all that great in this department either, from what I've heard, but at least you had that option. Best Buy and Geek Squad are still around but I've also heard some pretty scary stories about their services. In addition to the 50/50 chance that you're taking that you will get your machine back in good working order, with all of your data intact (if your hard drive has not totally died) and not being charged an arm and a leg and be upsold a slew of additional items that you really did not need, there's the headache of unplugging your machine and all of it's components and lugging it down to the store. Once it's there, I hope you are not in a hurry to get it back because chances are it's going to be there a while.
Thankfully, you do have a few other options. If your computer is not totally wrecked and you can get on the internet, you have two options. You can search via Yahoo, Google, or another search engine, for a computer repair company in your area. The benefits of calling a local company are:
1) You have someone close by who can assist you when you need help. Whether you have a few technical questions or you need to purchase additional equipment, they will be there to assist you.
2) The larger and more established companies have technicians that can come out to your location.
3) When you need to purchase a system, a good service provider will assess your needs and recommend the right system for the tasks that you need it for.
4) The bigger companies have agreements with the major manufacturers and, usually, can give you a discounted price.
5) These companies generally will handle the warranties for your systems so taking that burden off your hands.
6) If you choose the right company, they will be very well versed in the technical aspects of most operating systems, software programs, peripherals and networking and can, therefore assist you with the design, installation, configuration and integration of one system, a small to medium network or even a large multiple location WAN.
7) If you do need service and it is an emergency, most local companies can respond to you from 30 minutes or, at a minimum, the next day.
8) If you have a business and need a regular service provider, these companies generally offer a maintenance plan that can offer you many different options to suit your needs.
These are just a few of the advantages of using a local service provider. Keep in mind that, just as with any industry, there are good and bad service providers, so choose carefully. If you happen to be in the DC / Metro area, there is a local company that offers all of the benefits that I previously mentioned and more.
Another great option, if your computer is running and you have internet access, is calling a company that does "remote repair." This option is becoming ore and more popular. You do not have to take your computer apart, pack it up and haul it to the store. You do not even have to leave your house or office. You just call them up and tell them what your problem is (or what you think the problem might be), and they can "remote in" (take control temporarily) of your machine and, usually within an hour (depending on the severity of your issues), they can have you back up and running.
Best Buy, Geek Squad and, to name a few, offer these services. Once again, these are what I like to call major companies and their prices are going to be higher than if you find yourself a small to mid sized company with a great reputation.
There you have it. The next time your computer crashes, you're having trouble loading a driver or you suspect you have a virus; do not throw your computer out the window, put down the sledgehammer and do not have a hissy fit, start stomping, crying or pulling your hair out. Try calling a local provider and you're sure to find yourself happy and humming along in no time.