If you’re not that computer savvy, you might find yourself paying $100’s per month for someone to for someone to look at your computer, click a few things, type of a few words to ensure it runs smoothly for you. In fact, these people don’t really do much at all (in most cases) for the time it takes them. To help save yourself some $$$$, here are a few things you can do yourself to ensure you never have to pay someone again to fix your computer.
Back Up, Back Up, Back Up Your Data
The majority of people fail to backup their personal data, and when something goes wrong, you can feel your heart pounding because you might have just lost five years of documents and photos. Retrieved data of failed hard drives can cost you in the $1000’s, and can be a huge waste of money when you could have easily prevented that. The first thing you should know is how to backup your Data.
How to backup your data…
The easiest thing to do is head to your local computer store or electronic retailer, and purchase an external USB hard drive. They are relatively cheap, and you can pick up a 1TB one for under $100. Then, connect it to your computer and you will see it appear in My Computer.
Now, you just have to copy and paste your important files across. Alternatively, you can use something simple such as Microsoft Sync Toy to backup the files for you.
Learn Your Hardware and Operating System
When was the last time you looked at what is behind your computer? You need to know what powers that big black box under your desk you turn on every single day. Although it might seem complicated, you need to know how to connect all devices such as keyboards, mouse, screens, printers, scanners, external hard drives, and speakers. You need to ensure you can unplug all the cables behind your computer and then re-connect them again (without looking at a photo you took before you disconnected everything).
Aside from the hardware side of things, you need to know the basics on how to use your Operating System. If you are not sure what an Operating System is, you’ll need to do some research on that. I am going to assume Windows 7 is your operating system, so you should be able to know how to do the following:
- Use the Start Menu
- How to copy and paste (using both the mouse and keyboard)
- Find out specification and information about connected hardware
- Install an Application or Program
- Launch an Application or Program
- Know how to use the Application or Program you just installed
- Uninstall an Application or Program
- Browse all your files on your Hard Drive
- Back up all your files (see above)
- Perform a System Restore (see below)
- Connect and install drivers for new hardware
- Connect your computer to a network (see below)
- Share files and printers across your home network
- Setup user accounts on your computer
- Change control panel settings
- Add a new monitor (if your hardware allows it)
- Know if your computer will connect a new monitor – believe me, having two screens is awesome… I have 3
- Burn data to a CD/DVD
I consider the above to be very basic stuff, and won’t really help you when you have a problem, but it is something you need to which will save you money when you need to hire someone to install your newly purchased printer for you.
Configure Your Modem/Router and Wireless Settings
Has you ISP charged you to send a person out to your house to setup the router/modem they just sent you? That service can cost $100 in itself and that money will be better off in your pocket than someone else’s.
You should be able to perform the following:
- Connecting your router (to phone lines, power cords, computers)
- Accessing your routers administration screen
- Entering your ISP details
- Securing your Wireless Network
- Viewing access logs and other information your router has if your internet does not work.
This isn’t something that you can easily learn, but being productive on the computer is something that is a must. There is nothing worse than wasting time writing an email that takes you 30 minutes, where it will take someone else 10 minutes. Below are a few things you need to learn, research, and practice to be more productive on your computer.
- Learn to touch time
- Learn keyboard shortcuts for your operating system, software, web browser and websites
- Create a folder structure you’ll remember – so finding those files are easy
- Try to automate repetitive tasks
Know how to Google
How do you think tech gurus solve problems? They don’t know the answer to every single problem. However, what they do know, is how to Google and find a solution to their problem. Every single problem that could happen with a computer is answered somewhere on the internet.
Troubleshoot as Much As You Can
Sometimes, it might just be impossible for you to fix your computer. You may have no idea what is wrong, and sometimes you just need to pay someone to help you. If you come to this last resort, the most you can do is know what information they will be after and provide it them up front.
- The Operating System you use
- What you were doing to cause the error
- Can you repeat the error
- What warning signs you might have faced
- Provide any logs if possible
The above is a simple list of what you can do to help prevent the need of paying someone to fix your computer. Alternatively, if you have someone in your extended family who is a computer wizard, you can also help them.