Before Calling Tech Support... Check Online Resources

Phoning tech support is a notoriously arduous process. And when you’re stuck with a problem with no one knowledgeable around, it can quickly become a frustrating/tense situation. We’ve already given you some help when it comes to general solutions to trouble-shooting your problem. We’d like to highlight some excellent online resources which will not only help you fix your computer problems but will also teach you new skills or increase your general knowledge about technology and its associated trades.

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Google
Of course the obvious solution for most people is to run straight to Google when you have a problem. It is important, however, to know how to phrase your searches so you’re not stuck sifting through meaningless results. First and foremost, if you’re experiencing an error screen that contains a number, always search the exact error number accompanied by the program or OS you’re running that is giving you the error. If it doesn’t have an error number, copy the language of the error directly, possibly leaving out some of the superfluous wordage so you can get more direct results. Many times, Google will turn up results of message boards where users have had the same problems and received helpful tips.

Specialized Blog
There are multitudes of blogs based around giving support for technical questions. There are very general ones like Ask Dave Taylor or our friends over at Lifehacker and more specific ones such as Windows Support Blog. Again, searching in Google with the subject followed simply by “blog” will often yield results that could potentially be helpful in your searches.

Official/Unofficial Message boards
Message boards are often filled with very knowledgeable people, generously devoting their time to helping others and their problems. There are the official boards, such as the Apple Support Forums, which could very well take the place of Apple Care, or more general, unofficial boards such as Bleeping Computer.

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YouTube
The mighty video sharing website features some of the best (and worst) that the Internet has to offer in regards to video content. Luckily, it features some incredibly advanced videos with tutorials and guides to help you learn how to operate anything from Microsoft Exchange to Action Script 3.0. It really is amazing that people produce these videos to share for free and it is an awesome resource to take advantage of.

Official Video Sources
Many companies, such as Adobe have free instructional videos to help guide you through infinitely complex programs such as the Creative Suite. We’ve always done better learning through videos rather than reading from a book. In addition, some companies like Lynda will offer college-level instructional videos for a fair fee. You can find numerous videos at your disposal to help you learn nearly any technical trade there is.

Specialized Websites
If you have ever dabbled in web design or scripting, you have most likely used w3schools at least once. It is the definitive site for free tutorials and resources based around creating a website. The internet has many of these authoritative sources for specialized training in a particular field.

(1st image: Sybren A. Stüvel, 2nd image: Monica Hamburg, 3rd image: kylebakerlicensed for use under Creative Commons)

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