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Fix Your Computer Without Leaving Home

Remote tech services offer speed and discounts

IT Systems Administrator providing phone support.

Help is just a call or click away. — Ryasick/Vetta/Getty Images

Your next door neighbor moves. Suddenly, you can no longer get on the Internet. Yes the two are connected, or now disconnected. Turns out that when you set up your computer, you linked to your neighbor's wireless Internet. When he left, so did your connection. That's just one of the hundreds of issues that remote support technicians from companies such as Hewlett Packard and Best Buy's Geek Squad deal with every day.

See also: Learn basic steps to keep your PC humming. 

Thanks to the Internet and improvements in diagnostic software, the vast majority of computer problems can now be diagnosed and most often repaired remotely — often without even talking to a technician. That's a good thing, because the increasing complexity of computing makes it ever more challenging to figure out why your computer isn't doing what you want it to do. For computer makers such as Hewlett Packard, it's both a challenge and an opportunity. For retailers such as Best Buy, that's a great business opportunity. 

Best Buy's Geek Squad offers 24/7 support not just for computer problems, but for many of the digital devices you might use along with computing devices, such as MP3 players and digital cameras. According to Alan Pugh, a Geek Squad customer support agent based in Cleveland, to keep up with the times, the Geek Squad now offers training courses in social media networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Eric Gagnerau, manager of Hewlett Packard's Support Experience Team, says the bulk of their support calls are related to the Internet and connectivity. He says boomers and seniors who may be acquiring their first computer think that, just like a washing machine or a car, they'll be able to turn it on and it will work. Not quite. They often don't realize that once you set up your computer, you still need to make sure you have a router to hook it up to the Internet and an Internet Service Provider (ISP) — the same way you need a phone or electrical service provider.

Next: Triage care for your home PC. >>

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