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How Do I Find Good Local Computer Help?

It’s not easy.

Computer Repair
Good help is hard to find. That's just as true when it comes to finding good local computer service and support as it is anywhere else.
Question: My computer has a problem that I’ve not been able to figure out. I don’t even know how to ask the question. What I’d like to do is take it to someone local, but I don’t know who to trust. Should I go to one of the chain stores? Office supply stores? If not, how do I find someone that I can actually trust with my time, my money, and my data?

It’s true — sometimes someone needs to physically look at your machine to diagnose whatever’s ailing it. There’s only so much that can be done over email or phone, and even remote access (with someone you trust!) can’t handle every situation.

Sometimes, there’s simply no substitute for what I facetiously refer to as “laying hands” on a machine.

Finding hands you can trust is hard. Really, really hard.

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Finding local computer help

Ideally, check with friends, acquaintances, and others you already have a relationship with for recommendations and experiences. Search online very carefully, and be aware of search result manipulation. In the end, good service is worth good money, and it’s worth the time to find.

It comes back to reputation

In many ways, we’re struggling with the same issues we encounter when trying to find a reputable online resource — except this time, there’s even more at stake.

Hands-on professional technical support can be expensive. It can even surpass the cost of the computer itself. You’re also putting your security and privacy at risk when giving a technician the unfettered access to your computer they need to do the job.

Start by looking for local advice

Particularly when it comes to local tech support, I’d start by asking around. Specifically:

  • Ask your friends with computers who they use and what their experience has been.
  • Look for local computer help groups — often libraries and senior centers have something. Attend and ask for recommendations from attendees.
  • Go to a local computer store — ideally also a local store, not a chain — that does not provide service themselves, and ask who they recommend.

What you may find is that some of those free resources might be enough to help you right then and there. For example, my local senior center has a computer lab with specific hours during which volunteers are ready and willing to help anyone — not just members, and not just seniors — with their computer problems. If they can’t help, they’ll have recommendations of where to go locally for your next steps.

Looking online for local help

I advise against a generic online search with terms like “computer repair” for your location. The problem is that search results, and specifically the order of search results, have nothing to do with quality of service. We’ve seen this too often lately: fake and other questionable sites and sources can still rank highly.

Instead, look into services like Yelp or its equivalent (though be sure to watch out for “sponsored results”, which are nothing more than ads). What’s important here is the service ratings provided by other users. This approach isn’t perfect by any means, but it can provide a lot of valuable data you can review to make a more informed choice, particularly if you’re in a hurry. While this doesn’t guarantee success, I see it as a way to stack the odds in your favor.

Use generic searches only as a last resort, and with a healthy dose of skepticism. If you can, vet what you find against the recommendations and experiences of others who have used the service you’re considering.

The chains

Speaking of odds, computer services offered by the larger chains — computer-support chains as well as office supply and related stores — seem to be a coin toss. Some are excellent and aboveboard; others, not so much. There are periodic allegations that the big chains are more about charging you for things you don’t need than helping you solve the issues you have.

Since the quality varies so dramatically, if the chains are something you want to consider, I suggest you go back to step one and look for local advice. Ask local folks who’ve used that chain store for computer-related issues what their experience was. Were they treated well, and did they feel they received good value?

Personally, because it’s such an unknown, I’ve stopped recommending the major chains and favor working to find someone local you can trust.

What I do

I’m in a different position. I rarely need the type of help I’m talking about here. When I do have issues, I typically deal directly with whomever I got the computer from — these days, Apple, Dell, or Puget Systems. Naturally, that’s not “local” support at all.

This article exists because someone local asked me the question, and to be blunt, I had no answer. Even updating this article several years later, that hasn’t changed. I have no specific recommendation for a good local computer service and repair resource, and that frustrates me. It’s not that they don’t exist here; I’m certain they do. It’s just that I have no one to point people to. When it came down to helping a friend, I relied on Yelp to at least come up with some semi-qualified recommendations.

A word about cost

Not only is good help hard to find, but good help costs money — sometimes quite a bit.

That’s a dilemma. When your computer might cost more to fix than to replace, things get frustrating, particularly when the problem being fixed is in software, implying that no new computer hardware is required at all.

There’s no blanket recommendation I can make here, either.

All I can say is that:

  • Good support is worth good money.
  • Replacing a machine brings its own set of issues, including transferring your data, getting used to a new version of the operating system, reconfiguring settings, and installing or replacing all your applications. These “hidden costs” come somewhere — either the person you pay, or in the form of your own time performing the tasks.

Like a good car mechanic, taking the time and perhaps paying a little more money to establish a relationship with a good local computer repair technician can have lasting benefits.

What do you do?

In many ways, I still feel I don’t have a truly qualified answer. “Ask around”, while valuable, seems insufficient.

Have you found a qualified local source for help? How did you find them?

Please note: I’m explicitly not asking for specific recommendations. Any links to specific computer service and repair recommendations will be removed. Unfortunately, it’s an invitation for spammers, particularly since we have no way to vet them all. Besides, since any recommendation you might make would be local to you, it would help only a small portion of the global Ask Leo! audience.

But the techniques you use to find qualified local help will help everyone. Post a comment with your experience and tips.

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63 comments on “How Do I Find Good Local Computer Help?”

  1. Thanks for a another good article, Leo. Years ago, when I had my first internet computer (Dell with Win98), I later wanted to add another drive for burning cds. I took the computer and the drive to a local shop who called me that afternoon to tell me my computer would not boot and how much it would cost to fix that. Instead I brought my computer home and it booted right up. Lesson learned. I have never tried using local support since.

    I have had three Dell computers (still have all three and use each one for various purposes) and bought the extended 4 yr warranties on each one. In this instance I called Dell support and a nice tech walked me through the process of installing the new drive myself. Surprisingly it was very simple. The warranties are expensive but in the long run in my case over the years they have saved money and given me the security of always having someone to turn to for various problems by phone (at least till the warranties run out, but I have enjoyed learning enough over the years that I can usually, eventually, find solutions myself, including how to replace parts, etc. though it can sometimes be a long, and initially frustrating, process and a lot of people would not have the time to do it, I know.).

    Last year lightning struck an underground gas line to my house and the “card thingie” (can’t remember the techie name at the moment! : ) ) for wired internet connection on my new computer got knocked out. I did my usual internet search for the problem and learned that the thingie was not separate but on the motherboard on this computer. I had NOT bought the warranty that covered lightning strikes, etc. But I called Dell and told the tech what I thought the problem was, he checked it out remotely and agreed and immediately told me they would cover it anyway. The local people contracted by Dell sent someone out to change out the motherboard, but then my whole computer stopped working. I asked the tech to replace the old motherboard he had just removed so I would at least be able to use my computer until he came back with another motherboard. He did, but now that motherboard would not work either! (I watched this tech work on my computer. He did not even remove the wires on the back of the computer before he started working. He was not careful about how he handled the parts inside the machine, and reminded me of the computer version of an auto mechanic knocking and banging around under a car.)

    The company he worked for was very nice, even when I insisted that they send a different tech. Turned out they didn’t have anyone else local and had to send a man out from 2-3 hours away! But he came and had the computer fixed in a few minutes (he was nice, though I could tell he was definitely not happy about having to come so far, and he blamed Dell for poorly made parts!). Things turned out great for me in the end, but I wonder, though, if this company would have been so eager to please had they not been contracted to Dell. I suspect not.

    Anyway, just a little of my personal experience which may/or may not be useful for someone else.

  2. I would avoid the {big box store name removed, but can apply to almost any store or repair shop}. Too many stories online about them looking through people’s computer for “interesting” photographs to share with each other. I read one story where the entire store had set up a huge database to store these pictures.

    The bigger take away is when you hand your computer over to someone else to repair, you are handing over access to all your data on that computer. If that data is not encrypted, the can, and in the case of {removed}, will look at it.

    • This is absolutely true. One of my best friends worked at a big box store and the entire repair department LOVED voyeuring the computers. The “thrill of the hunt”, looking through someone else’s pics. Scary thing is, as a parent, we don’t even notice that we have pics of our young children playing around the house in their underwear…

      Getting your computer fixed is important, but don’t be naive, your pictures will be looked at and as Ronny pointed out, if they’re “interesting”, they’ll be copied.

      • I fix computers, but I would not do such thing. I’m too busy for that and have better things to do.
        When I do have time on my hands I rather play some solitaire, read, watch a movie or go for a walk.

      • Big box stores pay their staff very poorly, so I wouldn’t expect them to attract the best technicians. As I mentioned earlier, encrypt your files now before it’s too late. Yes and pictures should be among those files which should be encrypted.

        Originally, I didn’t encrypt my files in anticipation of needing to bring it into a shop but because I synchronize my files on the cloud. I was lucky when I brought my machine in, the files were already encrypted.

  3. I agree with asking for references from other local people. I was recently in another town on the other side of the country when my laptop screen quit working. I asked a friend who lived in the town and he recommended a certain local computer store. I went to the store where the technician quickly identified a loose wire which was fixed in a few minutes AT NO CHARGE! But it was that kind of service that led the local resident to recommend that store, which I would have had a hard time finding out about any other way.

  4. I have also found that posting my problem on a variety of list-servs, from software to machine manufacturers at times have yielded comments and suggestions that have led me to resolving the problem on my own. It takes some saavy to sort through some of the responses, but I have mostly succeded in avoiding some unreasonably priced repairers. One exception is if it is a hard drive issue, then hopefully you have a good clean current back-up.

  5. I have not found a local computer repair shop that I completely trust to repair my machine. If I cannot fix it myself, I turn to online sources such as Ask Leo and a few other sites that I consider reputable. Next I turn to Google Search to describe the problem and search for answers in the forums and other sources.
    These methods have proven to be successful for me. It does take time to find an answer to a problem but it’s worth the effort and saves me money. I backup my data regularly so when a problem cannot be solved I usually move on to another machine.
    My family is well blessed with all kinds of computers and other devices that constantly need my attention.

  6. I had used one computer tech near where I lived. He bricked my laptop. I suspect the motherboard might have been on its way out even w/o his assistance.

    Then I moved and had a laptop with a bad keyboard. I asked my neighbor if she knew of anyone who does computer work. She did and he has worked well over all. He did have some problems installing the first keyboard and learned from that experience what not to do.

    He does have some very specific ideas about computers that I do not share such as not imaging, just reinstall. I did get brave & suggested he save an image of the fresh install to make reinstall faster. No comments from him on that.

    I have learned to pretty much ignore his ideas I do not share and just shut up. Since I am pretty computer savvy that usually works for me.

    My new AIO had Spanish Windows 10 Home on it. He got English set up very well. Too bad the bios is still in Spanish!

  7. My recommendation would be to find a local tech that. I should CompTIA A+ certified. CompTIA is a non profit, vendor nutural organization that provides training and certification in many computer areas. The A+ certification is most reverent to the troubleshooting and repair of personal computers.

  8. The large external Terabyte hard-drives that easily connect to USB ports are a good place to backup important data. I do it weekly and then remove it from the usb port.
    Many of those drives come with 3 to 6 months of free cloud backup. I cancel the service when they start asking for money. The usb drive is enough.
    Before the large drives appeared, I signed up for all the available free email accounts and would send important stuff to those addresses, my free “cloud backup” service. I continue to do that with the ones still active.

  9. I live in a Senior Community. We have a computer lab that is open to residents 6 days a week. It is staffed by volunteers – many of whom are really very knowledgeable about computers. If they can’t help you, they know who can. Usually that person is a club member who also repairs, etc, as a source of extra income. Their fees are very reasonable.

  10. My local Apple store does not do repairs but use a local repair store which they recommend. I realize this may not be the case with all Apple stores but the one they recommended was very good. They also do PC repairs so it was a good find.

  11. Finding a computer repair shop is similar to finding a car repair shop but with fewer choices.

    I happen to live in a large metro area and have choices. When I physically need to have a computer opened up and worked on (pretty rare), I go to a local shop that used to be part of a franchised chain. I have talked with the owner and he is very knowledgeable and straight forward.
    When I have dealt with the technicians at a big retail chain, I have been appalled at their lack of basic knowledge or ability with the computer and software that they sold.

  12. Leo
    As usual your comments are right on the nail.
    I followed a recommendation from the leader of a Seniors Group, where I teach.
    I have been meticulously honest with this “one-man band” repair outfit. I trust him and he trusts me.
    Trust is vital for him (a bad reputation would kill his business dead). I never ask for quotations and am convinced that when he charges me (seldom) it is always well discounted. When charged for work, I always settle immediately
    He knows I recommend his services and values that.
    He cheerfully gives me free advice and explanations

  13. Good article Leo. As a local computer repair business owner, I certainly have strong opinions about all of this. One of the main things, imho, is to stay away from the big box computer repair places. They have employees working there that don’t have the same kind of liability. If a big box employee gets caught doing something sketchy or giving subpar work, they will be fired. If I, as a sole proprieter, make a mistake it is my tookas on the line. I risk lawsuits, criminal charges, etc. so I take it very seriously. Also, a lot of big box stores have seasonal help, college students, and generally a high turnover. Would you trust your computer with a college kid working a summer job or someone who has been doing it full-time for 8 years?

    If privacy is a big issue for you, I recommend finding a local tech that will come to your home or business. That way you can watch everything they do. It will be more expensive, but potentially worth it. I generally require my clients to drop off the computer if they need virus removal (scans can take hours) or if they need major hardware repair like a new motherboard (my shop has all the tools and a good, safe working space). Otherwise, I am happy to go on-site if they are willing to pay.


    • I inquired once in a national office supply chain how much I could make if I worked for their computer repair department. What they offered was slightly above the minimum wage. The big box stores aren’t very different. I don’t believe that kind of money attracts top talent. I’ve had good experience with MicroCenter.

  14. Actually, another idea is to check with your local college/university. They all have an IT Department and maybe someone from there is interested in doing some freelance work. Or they have some computer teachers who might be able to recommend someone.

    I’ve actually had good luck with Craigslist. Very often you can find a local guy who is reasonable


  15. The issue of big box employees going through computers looking for interesting photos and even worse, financial data such as Social Security and credit card numbers brings up another point. You might want to consider encrypting your sensitive information before bringing it in to be repaired. You might say, “but when my computer is broken, I won’t be able to encrypt my data”. That’s an argument to begin encrypting your sensitive data now. And from what I’m seeing here, that would include any photos you wouldn’t want these people to see.
    Here is a page of Ask Leo! links to articles on encryption to help you decide which method of encryption is best for you..

  16. Get a local guy. I go to a really small shop – one tech there- and he is smart with a capital C. He doesn’t charge an arm and a leg but sure knows his stuff. He builds computers and over the years I have bought probably 10 from him – for myself and family. The shop is nothing much to look at but I’m not paying for fancy fixtures – just a good, honest, smart man who is able to do what I need from my machines. Recently I bought a laptop from a big box store and they absolutely soaked me for “setting up the machine” Never again go there for service. All this is just my opinion.

  17. 1. Ask friends who own or work at local businesses, for example: law firms, small medical offices, independent businesses, etc. People who work for local government agencies also may be able to help find a skilled and reliable person. Then, get opinions from people who actually know the techs.

    2. Remove all pictures etc. from you computer that you don’t want someone to see. Store them as encrypted files. For that matter, never save–or even take–any pictures that you don’t want someone else or the world to see. PERIOD!

    3. Keep a primary back up drive that has been cloned with your operating system and all other applications. No Data should be kept on this disk. I used my restore disk when I had to send my laptop to Dell for a “factory repair”. No sensitive data was on the machine. I reinstalled the hdd with current data etc. after getting the laptop back. (BTW That restore disk was use to establish that the issue was related to the mfgs. hardware and not the software.)

    MARY. Search, “How to change BIOS language.” Then select the URL associated with the computers manufacturer. Pretty easy fix.

    • Point #2 would only be effective if you were able to access your hard drive. Many times the breakdown makes your disk inaccessible. All of this discussion here about repair people (I seriously can’t call them technicians as some really aren’t, and the ones who look for photos definitely aren’t worthy of the name.) looking at personal files is leading me to suggest to everybody that they set up their computers in such a way, that if the computer crashed now, that no repair person could see anything that you wouldn’t want them to see. That would involve cleaning and encryption.

      • My recommendation is to use a separate drive for all your data. The price of 1T HDs is reasonable, even on my no-tolerance budget. This can be installed either in the computer or a USB case. [Sabrent makes a good one that takes either IDE or SATA. This is not a recommendation, but what I’ve been using for several years.]
        If the computer needs repair, just remove the extra HD, and none of your personal files will be accessible.

      • A different approach to the concepts outlined by Old Man and Retired USN: You can prepare your computer to quickly delete your personal data and to easily backup your personal data only, without worrying about the OS or imaging the entire drive. You do this by partitioning your hard drive so that the OS (C:\ drive) is on one partition and all your personal data is on a separate partition (such as a D:\ drive). You can do this easily with free tools, such as Aomei Partition Assistant or Partition Wizard, etc. That way, if you should have to take your computer to a tech, you can delete or empty the data partition. Of course, you would have to have recent backups of your data so you can restore them back on your repaired computer. If you are really worried about the tech inspecting your empty data partition, you can always reformat it and wipe it (which can also be done with partition tools or CCleaner). So, what happens if your drive fails? A drive typically fails at a particular location and not in both partitions concurrently. But if it fails completely such that you cannot reboot AND you really have absolutely no technical capability or motivation, then you have no choice other than trust a tech to fix your computer. But if you have some technical capability, you can do what Old Man said. Take the bad drive out of your “broken” computer, install it in a USB case, attach the now external drive to a different computer and you can access your data partition. Of course, there are other ways that a hard drive can fail (such as dead motor) that cannot be accessed by home remedies, but such failures are very rare. If the drive is a complete loss, we presume you have recent backups for all your personal data and not much data is lost. On the other hand, if your only method of backup is by imaging your entire hard drive, you’re going to have a problem recovering just your personal data – or at least it will be a royal pain, even assuming you are technically proficient.

        • That method would only work if #1. your computer can still boot or #2. you have the tech savvy to take the drive out and clean it. Scenario #1 is not uncommon and in the case of scenario #2, you could probably fix it yourself. What Old Man was suggestion is a separate physical drive, which you can physically unplug and remove from your machine, or a USB external drive.

  18. My Motto when repairing someone else’s computer: The less I see, the better I like it!
    After 30 or so years of CP/M , DOS, Win3.1 and so on, I have heard from others about pictures on computers that they have no business looking for…
    UNLESS, asked to see if I could bring them back from an unreadable drive … which I have done many times from a failed drive. All I do is make a new folder on their desktop, and then , using recovery software (not MS restore either), I have all recovered files stored to the new folder and then when done, have the owner stop by and let them go thru the folder alone or together……This always builds trust.
    Too many times people say the wrong thing, and then one knows what they did. Best part with the Truth is, one does not have to remember.
    Be very, very careful….they are everywhere…..

  19. I’ll add my vote for a small, local shop. That’s where I’ve gone the few times I’ve had to have a computer repaired and I’ve never had reason to regret it. They’ll have more to gain by serving customers well, and more to lose by alienating them. I would avoid chain stores at all costs.

    I do most of my non-hardware fixing myself, but when my laptop’s DVD player bit the dust last month I went looking for help. I’m in a small-ish town and didn’t know any repair people, so I did a general search for computer repair in my area and picked out 3 locals. Then I looked through the reviews in Yelp, etc. One stood out, so I went to talk to her. She worked by herself out of her home, (her dogs gave their approval, which probably had something to do with belly rubs…), talked through the problem with me, and gave me an estimated price range. I trusted her from the start and brought in my computer. She had it done in 2 days, and at the lowest end of her estimate. Now I recommend her to anyone who will listen.

    Small, local. The end.

  20. Many comments relate directly to finding and using local PC Tech Shops for servicing physical issues with the computer. If the problem is not physical, which often is the case, other technical and software issues related to using a particular o/s, malware etc can be solved with finding good online help.
    One of the best locations is in a freeware program called Paltalk {link removed} and navigating to a room called PC Tech (there are other tech rooms but this is the one that I know the best and can recommend as both a user and an Admin) This room has been functioning and helping computer users for over 17 years and has helped thousands of PC users (not it is NOT a MAC help room as Paltalk up until the latest Beta iteration is no available as a MAC program).

    The Admins in the room work together as a team effort and normally problems can quite easily and effectively be solved without any remoting (which the room will NOT do) but can provide enough assistance that problems that don’t require the computer to be handled physically to satisfy the user.

    The room also has its own website with much valuable information.

    Hopefully this information will be of value and keep in mind all the assistance is offered on a totally free basis and all software recommended is legitimate freeware from secure sources.

  21. I started with the Atari computer in the early eighties, which I still have by the way. Working on it then progressing to PC’s a few years later. I bought, repaired and built my own systems.
    I’ ve learned on my own. Occasionally I repair computers for friends and family. I charge a modest fee, well under $100 usually less than $50 and have been successful every time in repairs.
    Point is I am cheap. What chains charge for service is outrageous. If I didn’t have the knowledge and skill I would use a local store whose been in business for sometime. And also has a good reputation.
    This is just my own experience and advice. Good luck.

  22. I’d like to know what kind of problem he’s having or even where exactly is he. I’m an amateur repairs person. My BFF used to work keeping up a network for someone. My son is currently employed by a company that deals with network security.

  23. Like Leo, I do my own troubleshooting and, if possible, my own repairs. My first source is Support on the manufacturer’s website. As Leo said, though, this is not “local”. However, sometimes they have contracts with local companies. If it’s with a large chain, don’t go there.
    — I had trouble with one computer and determined it was the motherboard. I called the company and went through the troubleshooting with their tech. He agreed it was the motherboard, which could be replaced under warranty. The company could not send it to me; I had to take it to an authorized repair facility in a large chain. I had to walk the “technician” through the troubleshooting process and argue with him before he finally agreed to install the new motherboard. Lesson learned (for free). —

    A couple of additional sources for local help are places that repair and recycles/sells computers, and school/collage computer labs (they may fix it for training and maybe a small fee).

  24. I live in a small rural city with basically no services. I know no one to ask. We have a big box office supply that also does repairs; hence, there are no stand alone computer stores to ask. I have found my technicians by seeing a sign on their store, while usually driving by for another purpose. One shop refused to work on my laptop because he did not like it’s appearance and wanted to sell me a new laptop which I did not want. I walked out! Another shop did the work, but I felt he over charged for parts compared to what I could buy them for on Ebay. Fortunately I happened to discover another shop with prompt, reasonably priced service that I am happy with. Finding a good service person is purely luck and accident.

  25. Some common PC issues may be fixed by running CCleaner and Malwarebytes, and perhaps uninstalling junk programs, something a senior center volunteer or geeky friend can do. For a good computer tech to stay in business the cost of diagnosing and correcting all but very simple problems can easily be $100-150. If your tired machine has 1 or 2 GB RAM and uses XP or earlier it’s hard to justify spending that kind of money when a new desktop with a warranty can be had for under $300. I’ve seen decent Win 7-Professional machines, new, for $150 -$200.

    Macrium Reflect, a $50 portable HD, and a little instruction from a friend can save your files and greatly increase available options when the grim reaper comes for your computer. I know, because my not-so-old HP Envy h8 croaked suddenly last week (HD). Fortunately, I was prepared (THANKS, Leo) and it was no big deal…unlike a friend who spent over $1000 having years of precious family photos extracted from a HD fried by lightning.

  26. I have a reasonable knowledge of computers, but still find sometimes the solution to try first is, as you recommend- Turn it off and on again. Amazing how often this is the answer. Google is still a great help for many things. There is a lot of advice available though sometimes you need to try a couple of the solutions..

    • I bought some RAM for my laptop at a local shop. When the technician turned it on it booted to an error message. He said something was wrong with the computer and he would fix it. I said I’ll check it out myself when I get home. When I took it home, it booted perfectly and is still working 5 years later. This isn’t to accuse the tech of trying to cheat me, but to emphasize, that turning the computer on and off, even a few times, can sometimes be the solution.

  27. My suggestion is to check with friends who work for large companies. These companies will typically have their own IT departments staffed with qualified people. Your friends who work there should know which techs are the best, and can ask them if they will take on a side-job for someone you know.

    A tech who is already fully employed may be willing to assist you at a far lower cost than someone who has the overhead costs of their own building, advertising and staff.

    I am personally one of those techs, now retired, and I occasionally will help someone out if I get a call. Just remember to pay well, and possibly tip them if you want to keep them coming back.


    I took my laptop to a local shop and he did nothing but charge 60 dollars. My fan was acting up in my MSI laptop and took it in for the work. The man said leave it here and call me in about 3 to 4 days. Well he called, I picked up my unit got it home and when I turned it on put in my password win 10 I found that some of my programs had been played with.

    In Firefox my bookmarks list had been deleted and some programs had been used by my log file while the computer was in the shop.

    The fan was not changed cause it still acts up like it did before I took it in.


  29. I am retired and live full-time in Mexico. My Spanish is “stumbling” so I need somebody with a bit of English. Expats have learned to turn to local forums to pose questions and find answers for all manner of things. The same could be done up north. Just stay with local recommendations or reviews and avoid those responding in a generic sense.

  30. Macrium Reflect paid version claims to fix restore from backup made from one Pc to another Pc with other hardware! And you will get all your installed software and settings exactly the same on the target Pc!
    I have never tried myself (yet) but I trust Macrium to deliver because Macrium has never let me down so far.
    The target computer must of course be capable to run the same os as the source computer.
    But I would first try to restore to same computer from latest backup – that usually does the trick.
    You need to run backup of files and os regularly!
    Macrium is the best backup software for Windows backup I have tried.

  31. Here in The Netherlands we have HCC – a computerclub – all over the country and in Belgium. We love to help people with hard- and software related problems.
    We like very much people to become member, we help them at our monthly meetings and even at home, there are no extra costs, just parts which have to be replaced have to be paid. The volunteers like a bottle or wine or something like that for their help, but no obligation. When you live far away of the helper you pay a low fee for the mileage.

    I don’t know whether or not there are such clubs in your country. If not…. a good idea to start one.

    HCC was founded April 27, 1977, so about 40 years ago! The name was Hobby Computer Club, but nowadays just HCC.

  32. Your overview of the help and hazards of trying to get technical support for the all too frequent challenges PC users are confronted with was comprehensive and pragmatic. Over these many years I have exposed myself to every resource – local, friends, recommendations, brand stores, computer specialist retail operations, etc and have found them to be either inadequate, overly adequate with charges to match, and/or outright incompetent or not readily available or unreliable.

    I don’t consider myself an expert but I have the capability to right minor wrongs and to benefit from your excellent advice and experience. BUT for the very difficult solution to unusual problems I all too frequently incur the need of experts. For the past nine years I have used {removed – see second last paragraph}.

  33. I’m a sole proprietor. I called a business-to-business IT consultancy, they didn’t want me as a client because I’m too small. But they kindly gave me contact information of another sole proprietor providing IT services to small businesses in my area. That person has worked out very well for me, and now takes care of all my email & web hosting, as well as providing as-needed technical consultancy. He charges $100/hour and comes to my door when remote access is not good enough. :-)

  34. Dear Leo, I’m mis-using your system because I have a valuable suggestion that I want to get through to you to promote, but don’t want to fall foul of your spam filter! A widespread but infuriating practice on email lists is to format the unsubscribe button in pale grey. To unsubscribe from a very incompetent firm’s emails I had to take a screengrab, put it into Photoshop, and simply move the centre ‘levels’ slider to make the button visible, print it out, and have it in front of me to know where to click on the email to unsubscribe.

  35. If there is an active Chamber of Commerce in your area, drop in for a meeting or two. There may be one or more small computer consulting practices represented, and you’ll hear personal testimonials from individuals and small businesses who have used them, or other local providers. I only learned the value of my Chamber of Commerce after I left the large corporate workforce to have my own business. I wish I’d known the breadth of resources I could have found years ago.

  36. Have been doing this kind of work as a sideline to my corporate clients, starting as a request years ago by a local company that needed an independent tech to service their user’s home PCs. It is tough to make a living doing this work, as it is time consuming and you must often go to the client, pick up the PC and then return it after the repairs are made. So I consider it a side line and do it for a modest fee, mostly to clients I have had as repeat customers. The biggest issues I have had to deal with are the lack of backups, although now with OneDrive this is less of an issue. The other is how they will use the PC without doing any scans. A good adware scanner is important, as any machine used to surf the web can get jammed up quickly with hidden adware.

    Another issue of late is the failure of system boards on the new, ultra-thin laptops. Anyone considering one should get a 3-year warranty, as these boards can be expensive if replaced out-of-warranty. Most of my clients have me order refurbished units, at about 30% of original cost. They are off-lease business units, and quality if often higher than with some of the newer units.

    That is why knowing a good PC tech can save you money in the long run.

  37. Great information,
    Yes it is true many fake and low quality companies are rank highly and many believe on that companies. For example we are looking for a computer repair shop we search on google and we select the shop that are rank in google first page. But this is not true these shops provide best repairing services.

  38. Leo happens to be an old Microsoft guy. I’ve forgotten now what his job role was. It’s been many years since I read that.

    I think the best advice you can get (coming from a Microsoft MCP myself) is to track down a Microsoft certified support tech in your local area. While the local repair services are awash with untrained techs, Microsoft certified techs are a good benchmark for skills and knowledge, and commitment to doing a good job.

    It is possible you will pay the same money for a tech without industry standard qualification, so it just makes sense to have a benchmark beyond claims of so many years experience.

    I’ve always found the ones who claim you do not need an MCP badge are the ones with no experience in enterprise IT.

  39. I am in need of a person who has the ability to place me in a lot of “job sites” adding my resume and picture as most sites require that information. I am in the Las Vegas and Henderson locations in the state of Nevada.

    Thank you

  40. While I am pretty sure I personally would go with a new computer, there is an app that at least started as a referral and answer questions locally thing.
    It is called NEXTDOOR, and I used it to get recommendations for doctors, dentists, car mechanics and the like when we moved to a new town.
    There is a tiny bit of security as Nextdoor say they check out your name and address match before allowing you to join.
    Any recommendation request usually gets dozens of responses, the good, the bad and the ugly. Just be sure to be a little skeptical!

  41. Local Support – an oxymoron for sure. I’m like Leo – I rarely need support other than from the equipment manufacturer or the software vendor. Having worked in the telecommunications industry for 46+ years. Experience ranging from 43A1 Telegraph, analog data, dial-up 100baud modems, to digitization of nearly everything. I know not everyone has that luxury. I have no real suggestions except to be VERY careful of your sources. I’m still using a Sony VAIO laptop I purchased in 2010 and an HP desktop purchased refurbished from HP. Neither will support Windows 11, but I’m not worried about continuing to use Windows 10 because I just recently retired my old XP print server. And if it hadn’t had a mother board failure, I’d still be using it. The jist of all this is, not everything has to be junked and replaced just because it has some age on it!
    {email address removed}

    • Wow, I’m also still using a Sony VAIO laptop I purchased in 2010. I switched out the HDD for an SSD and maxxed out the RAM to 8GB and it runs as fast as a modern machine. I use it at work because it has an HDMI conection (a requirement to use their projectors) and a Blue Ray player.

  42. I have not read any of the comments, so my comment might have already been suggested. The following is something I do for almost anything I buy, might want to buy, or something I’ve noticed might need repairing in the future. Look around for that good help BEFORE you NEED the help. Get to know them BEFORE you need them. Go visit them. Ask questions you already know the answers to. If you don’t find someone BEFORE you need help and something goes haywire (maybe something needed fixing “yesterday”), you might end up calling or going to the first person who says, “Yea, we can fix it for you”. Doing that could be a mistake.

  43. Leo suggested using Senior Centers as a reference point. I’d also like to add your local Library as a possible resource. My local library has free classes for both Mac and Windows. They also have a time when you can bring in your malfunctioning computers for assistance.

    Just a thought…

    I worked with computers for 40 years. Finding a good tech is a cr*p-shoot and a blessing. I’m blessed, my oldest son is Help Desk and loves to help dear old Dad.

  44. Hm, help should not be hard to get to, but it has to start with asking. Reach out to friends, local neighborhood Facebook groups, Nextdoor, etc, etc.

    As others have said, with some love, PCs these days will last far longer than most people ever could dream of. All my (reliable and peak performing) PCs and Macs are about 10 years old, and they work better today then when they were new.
    How come? SSD is often the simple and inexpensive answer.
    With a 500 GB SSD available for about $50 these days, and a 1 TB a little bit over $100, it’s hard not to recommend installation of them. So I have upgraded many PCs for friends and neighbors and “kicked old hardware back to life. And saved it from the scrap heap.

    It also helps a lot if having a basic understanding of what PCs are and how they work. With that basic understanding, PC are no longer odd shaped boxes that “act in mysterious ways”, but tools or utilities that truly are a must have item in any modern household. And they can be great fun (to have) along that way as well.

  45. I heartily agree with the suggestion to seek out a local computer club in a seniors’ centre (Canadian spelling, sorry eh!). I’m treasurer of a small computer club that offers one-on-one help to members We’re finding that we’re getting people who come in, pay their $25 membership for 45 minutes of a volunteer’s time, and we never see them again, so I guess they think it’s a good deal. We can’t repair hardware and in 45 minutes we’re not going to do an OS upgrade, but if people respect our limitations they can get help from people who love to do it.

    One caveat: we’ve lost one volunteer who was getting too stressed out by unreasonable demands so PLEASE treat the volunteer with respect and not expect a miracle.

  46. Well, I’m on the other side of the coin and fix computers locally. I’m not trying to advertise myself, since I’m not leaving my information for contact. I like your article and just trying to help. When I get new customers I usually ask (unless I forget, lol) how did they find me. The answer I get most is that they found me in the local town paper. Picking up a business card from a bulletin board would be second.
    Recommended by someone third, and found online is last ( I don’t even have a fancy website, just the one I got from google for free, which is not much. This is a rural area, so going to a computer store would be quite a trip.

  47. I volunteer for the Tech Committee at my church. There used to be a volunteer who spent a lot of his time at church, fixing this or that, but he’s since retired from volunteering. So the church was looking for a good tech support company — a little more than we current volunteers were willing or able to do. They initially worked with a one-person shop, and he was helpful until he wasn’t (we think he simply got overwhelmed with the work). So I contacted a son’s friend who had started his own “computer support” company a few years back. Turns out the son-of-a-friend got a job offer that paid him more than he was making at his own place, so he closed his place. Luckily, he provided a reference for someone he strongly recommended to help the church. (Hang on, almost there.) Called the reference and *they too* were booked up, but they recommended someone else. THAT someone else was responsive, answered questions, and is now on contract for the church. Win!! MORAL: Keep plugging away and networking, and eventually you’ll get there!

  48. Here’s my experience:
    Fixing computers is a personal service, so ask these BASIC questions beforehand:
    1. Who (that’s one individual) is going to trouble shoot and repair my computer. (This means the apparent qualified person (APQ) you want to talk with–not the message/order taker.)
    2. What formal training does this person have for the apparent problem? (This means schooling including the dates, name and location of the school.)
    3. What work history does the repair person have relative to the apparent problem? (This means names and duration and job descriptions.)
    4. What formal continuing education, in the past 10 year period, does the AQP have relative to the apparent problem on your hardware, software or product?
    5. What special trouble shooting hardware and software and product manuals does the AQP have in the shop?
    I can not tell you how many shops and attempted interviews I have had (spanning 35 years) before it became clear early that a pre-retainer interview (time consuming discussion) was absolutely (that’s absolutely) necessary before having anyone working on my computer for anything. I bought new computers five times before spending a short period hitting a stone wall trying to find a “reputable qualifies shop or person back when that time came. And very few having this information will gladly share it with you because the know you will see the value in their service. (The only person that “volunteered” these standards in this newsletter is Leo.) But they are the standards of individual business consultants in the business world. And these individuals, (and a few computer repairers) will gladly hand-out a multi-page list before taking a job. It’s called “competition.” If this info is not provided the prospective customer will go to another person without wasting their time with a hollow individual, or shop. At the first sign of resistance to your questions, get away fast while your money is still in your pocket.

  49. It really is hard for companies to find companies to manage their IT. They normally weight until it is a complete train wreck because they are trying to do it Free or cheap. Free isn’t always the cheapest. We get many of our clients with my company because of a major issue that occurred. There are also many companies out there that will take advantage of those in need of IT support.


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