We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
80,259 News Articles

Fix your friends' PCs in five easy steps

Get in with the IT crowd, the easy way

When friends call you with computer trouble, you try to help. But no matter how much you know about PCs, correcting a problem can be a challenge when you're talking to someone who doesn't know a taskbar from a USB port. So we've put together the definitive guide to providing IT support for those closest to you. We'll show you the tweaks, the tricks and the freebies that will make you the most popular geek in town.

First, we'll tell you how to help local loved ones - those who live close enough for you to sit down at their PCs. Then we'll offer advice for long-distance support over the phone and via the internet.

1. Be a tech-support hero

First, you don't know everything. If you can't figure out the problem, say so. It's better not to help than to make things worse.

Second, you have a life. You're not obliged to drop everything you're doing to help figure out why Auntie Vivian's antivirus conflicts with Final Catastrophe IV: Attack of the Dentists. Let people know when it's not a good time.

When you sit down at someone's computer, start by checking the basics. Are the security programs up to date? Check msconfig to find out what programs are loading with every boot.

If there's a working internet connection, run a free, online malware scanner, such as this one at Kaspersky Lab and this one - Trend Micro HouseCall.

Put shortcuts to your favourite scanners on a flash drive so you can take them to different computers.

  1. Be a tech-support hero
  2. The right tools for the right job
  3. IT support from far away
  4. Vista: heal thyself
  5. Help your friends to help themselves


IDG UK Sites

Nexus 6 vs Sony Xperia Z3 comparison: Lollipop phablet takes on KitKat flagship smartphone

IDG UK Sites

Why people aren't upgrading to iOS 8: new features are for power users, not the average Joe

IDG UK Sites

Free rocket & space sounds: NASA launches archive of interstellar audio on SoundCloud

IDG UK Sites

iPad Air 2 review: Insanely fast and alarmingly thin. Speed tests, camera tests, beautiful...