Online tech guides
By CNN Interactive Writer Elizabeth Knefel
April 3, 1998
Web posted at: 5:04 PM EST (1704 GMT)
We've all been there - some new software hangs up the PC, the modem
isn't compatible with the Internet service provider or the computer
just stops working. Tech problems happen every day, and finding the
solution is almost never easy.
Intel recently launched AnswerExpress Support Suite, a virtual help
desk, but it's not free. It includes a callback service via e-mail,
a reference library, a virus protection service and an online backup
service. Before you contact Intel or throw your PC (or yourself) out
the window, check out these free online tech support sites.
first to PC Help
Online . It's a one-stop, online clearinghouse with information
about vendors, software and hardware. Visit the "PC-Resource" section
to find dictionaries, download sites, FAQ's, newsgroups, computer history,
links, tips, online magazines and information for Internet newbies.
You can post a problem on the Mac, PC and Unix forums and get answers
from people who have already been through your same frustrations. The
"PC-Hardware" section boasts direct links to drivers, patches and updates.
The "PC-Software" area contains a detailed list of contact information
for software companies. But if you really want to save time, use the
search feature. My search for Microsoft came up with contact information,
software downloads, sales and product information, technical support
and even employment opportunities all in one place.
Help includes "Ask the Experts," a message board and chat area that
includes a free banner-making feature. More than 30 experts are available
to answer your computer problems or critique your Web site. The message
board and chat areas allow direct contact with the experts or other
users who might be able to solve your problem. This site also offers
tutorials and help topics in the "Specialty" area. There is also a "Web
Tools" section with valuable references for webmasters. It lets you
look up domain names from the interNIC database and register your site
with 20 of the leading search engines.
Mechanic is for users who don't mind getting their hands dirty.
Here you'll find tech support, a discussion forum, book section, downloads
and links. The tech support and forum are similar to other sites, and
most sections provide background information before guiding you to a
solution. Optimization and plug & play areas have overviews and tips
to increase your confidence level. The "Build Your Own PC" section features
a detailed tutorial from purchasing the components to installing the
operating system. The "Troubleshooting" area features solutions ranging
from common Windows 95 errors to the meaning of beep error codes. Don't
forget to check out PC Mechanic's "Tip of the Day," and you can even
download the contents of this site for offline reference for five dollars.
A good technical
reference site for "wireheads" is Computer
Tips. This site features technology news, technical information,
diagrams, a bookstore and numerous links. The "Forum" section lists
software, hardware, windows, driver and general topics. Here you can
post your problems and be assured someone out there will have a solution.
This technical site includes sections on I/O ports, I/O devices, motherboards,
displays and storage devices. Advanced users will benefit most from
95 boasts a plug and play feature, but adding hardware can still be
less than fun. If you aren't having a good time, go to Plug
and Pray . This site offers diagnostic programs to examine your
hardware components and links to manufacturers. Plug and Pray is also
a good place to visit if you are a Linux user. The most interesting
area is the Plug & Pray "X-Files," where strange and mysterious occurrences
are shared and average PC users are promised "the truth is out there."
Even if you don't have such unique problems, the postings are very interesting.
If after visiting all these sites and you still don't have an answer
to your PC problems, then it's probably time for you to join a computer
user group or even take your machine to a repair shop. I don't know
of any Web sites to help you in your dealings with repair shops but
praying might be a good start.