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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.

4. Vista: heal thyself

If your friend or relative is running Windows Vista, he or she will need lots of support. Luckily, Vista offers its own reporting tool.

Have the poor devil begin by clicking Start, typing Performance Information and Tools, and pressing Enter. In the resulting window, the person should click Advanced Tools (in the left pane) and then Generate a system health report (at the bottom of the window). After the report is generated, instruct your friend/relative to select File**Save as and send the resulting file to you.

What about remote software?

At this point, you probably expect us to recommend a remote control program. After all, what could be better than controlling your friend's computer over the internet?

Unfortunately, we have yet to find such a program that is easy enough for a novice to install and set up - even with you giving instructions over the phone.

  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

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