When you're having trouble with your computer, you have four basic options:
- Fix it yourself (always my recommendation)
- Call technical support (assuming your warranty is still valid)
- Get help remotely from an online computer repair service.
- Take it to a local computer repair service
Assuming you've passed on fixing the problem yourself (see Common PC Problems and How to Fix Them before you completely give up) and you can't get help from the manufacturer or software developer, you're left with paying someone else to fix your issue.
So how do you decide? Do you take your computer to one of the many local PC repair shops to get it worked on or do you hire an online service to remotely connect to your PC and/or walk you through the solution to the problem?
It's not always an easy decision but there are several questions you can ask yourself that will help make the best choice more obvious.
Do You Suspect a Serious Hardware or Software Problem?
If you suspect a serious hardware or software problem, an online computer repair service won't do you much good. Any kind of problem that prevents you from successfully connecting to the Internet will likely prevent a remote support agent from connecting to your PC over that same Internet. Make sense?
Some serious hardware/software problems include:
- Problems powering on the computer (screen is completely blank, no power to the computer at all, etc.)
- Issues that prevent Windows from loading (Blue Screen of Death, problems logging in to Windows, etc.)
- Any issue accessing the Internet
If you're experiencing the sorts of problems like the ones I mentioned above, I highly recommend seeking service from a qualified local computer repair service.
You could still contact an online repair service but you'll probably be sent to a local PC repair shop and likely incur a charge for that referral. There's no reason to waste your money getting a referral from a biased source like this.
Some online PC repair services will attempt to walk you through a step-by-step resolution to a serious problem that they can't remotely fix themselves. While that's certainly a better use of your money than a simple referral, you should know that whatever troubleshooting information they provide over the phone is probably available online, completely free of charge, from a computer repair website - like the one you're on now!
How Fast do You Need Help?
By a huge margin, getting PC help from an online computer repair service will be faster than from a local computer repair service.
You won't have to unhook your computer and load it up in the car. You won't have to wait on a service person to visit your home or business. You won't have to work within standard business hours. These are huge advantages if you need your computer fixed fast.
Online computer repair services might not be able to fix every problem under the sun, but if they can fix yours, they're often the better, and for sure the fastest, bet.
How Fast is Your Internet Connection?
I realize that the majority of those online today are on "high speed" Internet connections but if not, you should probably think twice about getting help for you PC from an online computer repair service.
It's true that the process can work on a very slow connection but it's not as reliable and will certainly extend the time, and cost, required to fix your computer remotely.
You shouldn't have any problem working with a remote service team if you have a high-speed connection to the Internet.
Are You a "People Person"?
No, this isn't a technical question, but it's an important one nonetheless. Some people simply prefer to work face-to-face, something you will not be getting from an online computer repair service.
If you like to see who you're paying for a service or are used to assessing quality by "real-world" interactions, then I highly suggest visiting your local computer repair service. However, if it's just about getting the job done right and getting it done fast, I recommend an online computer repair service.
I don't at all mean to make online computer repair services sound like the lesser choice. I bring these points up simply so you can make the right decision based on the specific problem you're seeing and the kind of person you are.