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More online technical support

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of technical support sites on the internet. If you search for various problem-related terms, you’ll stumble across many of them. Some are good, some … not so much.

I recently asked my readers what technical support sites they use in addition to Ask Leo!

Since I regularly get many more questions than I can possibly answer, I thought I’d share the results.

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But first, a caveat

Sadly, I must cover my posterior.

With the exception of the folks in the “people I know” category, I can’t truly vouch for the legitimacy, intention, or competency of the sites listed here. I believe most to be legitimate and valuable – otherwise I wouldn’t be listing them here.

But…

It’s critical – as it is with any site you visit, recommendation you read, or information you find on the internet – to keep your guard up. Caveat emptor: “buyer beware”. Even though you’re not a “buyer”, per se, you are accepting advice from folks you don’t know.

Not only have I not explicitly checked each and every site personally, but things change, and what might be a safe and useful site today might be something else in the future.

People I know

These are sites run by individuals I’ve actually met and converse with periodically. As a result, my personal level of trust in them is pretty high.

  • AskBobRankin.com – Bob’s a friend who’s been doing this for a long time as well. While we don’t agree on everything (this is the internet, after all 🙂 ), he’s a great resource.
  • Excel Tips – Allen Wyatt’s great site, chock full of tips, tricks and answers relating to Microsoft Excel.
  • Groovy Post – “Mr. Groove” and his team continue to assemble useful tips, tricks, and answers for a variety of operating systems and platforms.
  • MacMost – Not really a Q&A or support site, Gary Rozensweig’s site is full of useful information, tips, and tricks relating to the Apple ecosystem, including a good post on how to get help.
  • Word Tips – Another great site of Allen Wyatt’s, this one full of tips, tricks, and answers relating to Microsoft Word.

Companies and organizations

Some of the best (or at least most authoritative) resources are those run by the companies that make our computers and software. The biggest challenge I find is often simply translating the official answer into terms that the average computer user can understand and use.

  • Apple Support – Official support from Apple.
  • Apple Community – Peer-to-peer support for users of Apple products.
  • Firefox Forums – Discussion forums for support of the Firefox browser.
  • HP Support Forums – Discussion forums for users of HP equipment.
  • Linux Questions – A community forum for questions relating to Linux.
  • Microsoft Support – Not always the best written or easiest to follow, or easiest to search, but most definitely the most authoritative.
  • Microsoft Community – A peer-to-peer support resource where users of Microsoft software can help each other. Microsoft representatives are also present, but are not guaranteed to respond to every post.
  • Thunderbird Support Forums – Support for the Thunderbird email program.

Obviously, I’ve not listed all possible companies here, but in general, most have support forums of some sort, and they’re often a great place to start when you have an issue relating to a specific product.

Reader recommendations and more

While I’ve not visited every one of these, many are quite familiar as sources of useful information. Most are recommendations from readers as well as sites from which I’ve occasionally found useful information myself.

In updating this list, it’s been interesting to see what’s changed over time. Sites and resources from a decade ago have disappeared, or changed their focus so as to become unhelpful to the average computer user, while other sites have stepped up to take their place.

If you have a recommendation to add to this list, or a comment on one of the entries, definitely let me know. Just use the ask a question page and submit your suggestion there.

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11 comments on “More online technical support”

  1. Hi Leo,

    Of late, you have been saying a lot about installing or not the Windows 10 O.S.

    I’d confess that I was sitting on the fence wondering if I should install Windows 10.

    Just the other day, I found myself without much to do and just staring at my computer screen. There was that 10 icon down in the lower right corner just looking at me. I said, “What the heck!” I hit the button and it started, after I had done an image of my computer, some additional downloads, etc. per your earlier instructions. Everything seemed to go great until about somewhere near 84% or 93% completion. Things went south when a screen came up with the words starting with “Fatal error…… ” . I tried several more times with no success. On my second to last attempt, I went back to the Control Panel and under the Windows Update tab, I found the error number for the cancellation of the installation. It said, “8007002C-4000D” Googling that number brought up several sites, including the Microsoft site, that hit upon the subject of uninstalling your third party anti-virus and possibly your malware programs. I don’t believe I had read anything of that from anyone before I started my download of Windows 10. I went back and again updated my 7 operating system, just to be sure. Upon removing my virus and malware programs, the Windows 10 installation went quite smoothly. It took about 3 hours to change completely over. I never once needed the image or other saved downloads. All my programs were as they had been before. Everything worked and was up to date. I feel like a lucky person.

    As with everything, I didn’t get completely what I wanted done to the new Windows 10 operating system. About one year ago, I had wanted to add a partition to my “C” drive. After making it and doing some things not necessary to this story, I realized I didn’t want the partition or the stuff on the partitioned “D” drive. I had hoped the Windows 10 would see that there is nothing on my “D” drive and return it back to the “C” drive. That didn’t happen. So now I’m in need of advice as to how do I undo the partitioning of my “C/D” drive. If you could help me, I’d be eternally grateful.

  2. Leo: In the article above, you wrote: “Kim Komando – A compliment to Kim’s weekly national radio show.” “Compliment” should read “complement.”

  3. Having just read your very useful article on technical support sites, I should like to add my recommendation.

    About ten years ago, after a total meltdown, I came across http://www.techsupportforum.com, from where I received excellent help and advice about backing up. I wrote a couple of articles (http://www.techsupportforum.com/580-how-to-copy-your-operating-system-from-one-hard-drive-to-another-4/ and http://www.techsupportforum.com/2159-backup-your-boot-hard-drive/) for the forum about my experience. I then joined the TSF Articles Team, and have been the Articles Team manager for the last four years. The forum Security Team, in particular, is well-respected by security analysts from the other major forums. Many of our staff are also staff members of some of the other forums on your list.

  4. Leo, this is among your most useful articles, but I can see tons of time happily spent exploring them all.

    Google is my go-to site for tech support. With the right words in the search bar, I’m taken right to the answer.

    The only sites I read regularly (because I’m subscribed to get emails from them) are yours and How to Geek. That seems to fill my plate.

    Again, this was a wonderful article. Don’t believe I’ve seen another like it. Most sites want to keep their readers from going elsewhere, not encourage them to go. Many thanks.

    • I agree 100% with that In fact it was Google where I first found Ask Leo!. But a list of reliable support sites also helps to know which of those Google results will be more likely to give helpful advice.

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