Even if you've decided that fixing your computer problem yourself isn't for you this time, you still need to figure out exactly what your problem is and how to communicate that problem to whichever local computer repair professional you've decided on hiring.
"My computer just isn't working" isn't good enough, I'm sorry to say. I know, I know, you're not an expert, right? You don't need to know the difference in SATA and PATA to effectively describe your particular PC issue to a PC repair pro.
Follow these simple tips to ensure that the person you're paying to fix your computer has a clear understanding what the problem actually is:
Be Prepared Before Visiting or Calling
Before you start unhooking your computer or before you pick up the phone to have a tech come out to your home or business, you need to make sure you're prepared to explain your computer problem.
If you're prepared, you'll describe your problem to the computer repair person more clearly which will make he or she better informed of your issue which will probably mean that you'll spend less on getting your PC fixed.
The exact information you should be prepared with will vary depending on your problem but here are several things to keep in mind:
- If you have an error message: What's the exact error message on your screen?
- If you don't have an error message: What exactly is your computer doing? "It just doesn't work" isn't helpful information.
- When did the problem start happening?
- Did anything else happen at the same time the problem started? (e.g. a blue screen of death, smoke coming from the computer, virus warning, etc.)
- What have you already done to troubleshoot the problem?
- Has the problem changed since it first started happening (e.g. computer shuts off more frequently, error message appears at a different time now, etc.)
I recommend writing all of this down before you head out the door or pick up the phone.
Be Thorough and Specific
I touched on this a little in the Be Prepared Before Calling or Visiting tip above, but the need to be thorough and specific is extremely important! You may be well aware of the trouble your computer has been having but the computer repair person is not. You have to tell the whole story in as much detail as possible.
For example, saying "My computer just quit working" doesn't say anything at all. There are millions of ways a computer might "not be working" and the ways to fix those problems can vary tremendously. I always recommend stepping through, in great detail, the process that produces the problem.
If your computer won't turn on, for example, you might describe the problem like this:
"I hit the power button on my computer and a green light comes on the front of my computer and on my monitor. Some text shows up on the screen for just a second, which I don't have time to read, and then the whole thing shuts off. The monitor stays on but all the lights on the front of my computer case turn off. If I turn it on again, the same thing happens over and over."
Communication is key to properly describing your PC issue to a computer repair professional. The entire reason for your visit or phone call is to communicate to the service person what the problem is so he or she can properly resolve the problem.
Your basic person-to-person communication rules apply here like elsewhere in life: speak slowly, enunciate properly, and be nice!
If you're describing your problem over the phone, be sure you're calling from a quiet area. A barking dog or screaming child is unlikely to help anyone understand your problem more clearly.
Don't Get Emotional
No one likes computer problems. Believe me, sometimes a computer repair person learns to hate computer problems even more than you, even if it is his or her job. Getting emotional, however, solves absolutely nothing. Getting emotional frustrates everyone and works against getting your computer fixed quickly.
Try to keep in mind that the person you're talking to didn't design the hardware or program the software that's giving you problems. The computer repair professional you're hiring is simply knowledgeable about these things - not responsible for them.
You're only in control of the information you're providing so your best bet is to take another look at some of the tips above and try to communicate as clearly as you possibly can.