7 Ways to Ensure Your Loved Ones’ PC Will Never Need Fixing

Ads by Google

senior-in-front-of-pcAre you tech support for your parents, grandparents, spouse, children, other family members, or even friends? Do you receive frantic calls because they’ve installed malware or somehow managed to break their computer and they need you to fix it? This can be extremely obnoxious — not to mention time-consuming. If you’re tech support, here are some tips to make it harder for your users to break their PCs.

These tips aren’t all completely fool-proof, but they will help you make your users’ computers more newbie-proof. Once you’ve got everything set up right, your users will hopefully leave you alone so you can get on with your life and have more precious free time.

Buy an iPad, Android tablet, Chromebook, or Mac

What do your relatives actually do with their computers? Do they actually need Windows, or do they just use their computer for Facebook, email, and general web browsing?

If they don’t need Windows, you may be able to save a lot of trouble by having them use another type of computer instead. These other types of computing devices aren’t vulnerable to the Windows malware and other terrible Windows software scattered around the Internet, so you’re much less likely to hear that their computer has become infected or they’ve installed some terrible toolbar that slows everything down.

  • iPad: Less-demanding users that just use their computers for general web usage may be happier with an iPad than a typical computer.
  • Chromebook: Chromebooks are physical laptops, but they boot fast and only run Chrome. Even better, they’re cheap — the Samsung Chromebook is only $250. If they really don’t need Windows software, this may be a smart choice.
  • Android tablet: Android tablets are another option — they’re often cheaper than iPads if your relatives would prefer a touch-based tablet instead of the Chromebook’s typical laptop form factor.
  • Mac: Macs are on the expensive side compared to Windows laptops and are complex in their own way. While Macs aren’t completely immune to malware, they aren’t vulnerable to all the Windows malware in the wild. If your relatives need Microsoft Office, it’s available for Mac, too.

samsung google chromebook series 3 review

Install Linux

If you already have an existing PC and don’t want to buy new hardware, you may want to consider installing Ubuntu or another Linux distribution on your relatives’ computer. Like the other systems above, Ubuntu isn’t vulnerable to Windows malware and the other terrible software floating around the web. Both Chrome and Firefox run on Ubuntu, so using an Ubuntu system is a great way to turn a Windows PC into a more locked-down environment that’s harder to damage.

Ads by Google

Of course, if your users require Windows software, this will be out of the question.

ubuntu complaints

Remove Admin Rights

If you are using a Windows computer, you may want to set up your relatives with a limited, standard user account. They won’t be able to install many types of software that could potentially damage their computer. Keep your own account with administrator rights and you’ll be able to perform any software installations or settings tweaks they’ll need.

Of course, this is a double-edged sword — if your relatives frequently want to install new software or change settings requiring administrator access, they’ll be contacting you and asking for your help.

Use the User Accounts control panel to make your relatives’ account a Standard account, while creating a separate Administrator account for yourself.


Set Up Remote Access

Whatever you do, you’ll probably want to get remote-access software set up ahead of time. This will allow you to easily access the computer over the Internet so you can perform maintenance tasks and help with any problems that should occur. It’s much easier to set this up ahead of time than to try and walk your relatives through giving you access over the phone when you need to access their computer.

There are many remote access solutions you can use. TeamViewer is one of the most popular. Soluto, which has built-in administration features that allow you to view information about the remote system in a simple console, is another solid solution.

remote pc assistance

Secure The PC

Before you leave your relatives alone with a Windows PC, be sure it’s good and secure.

update windows apps

Explain PC Safety

We’re focusing a lot on technical solutions here, but there’s also the old-fashioned solution: Sit your relatives down and explain what they need to know for safe PC use. Explain how to tell whether a download is safe and what types of files are dangerous. Let them know that they shouldn’t download pirated applications from shady websites or install screensavers from pop-up adds. Inform them that they shouldn’t click web ads that say “Your computer has a virus!” and download the software, which may possibly give their computer a virus.

This isn’t fool-proof and, unfortunately, some people just aren’t willing to learn. Still, it’s certainly worth a try.

As a bonus, explaining the basics will help prevent your relatives from falling for an email scam and sending money to Nigeria — something that you can’t configure their software to prevent.

Restore Windows From a Snapshot on Boot

Hotels, libraries, and Internet cafes sometimes maintain public PCs. To ensure these PCs aren’t tampered with, they often use software that restores the computer’s operating system at boot. In other words, any changes made to the computer’s operating system can be erased instantly by simply rebooting the PC. Every restart brings you back to the snapshot.

Deep Freeze is a popular paid software application used for this, but there are free alternatives like Steadier State and Reboot Restore Rx. Set up the computer and then install the software — you can now restore Windows just by rebooting. It’s the ultimate way to ensure a computer doesn’t become infected with malware over time, but you will have to disable the software when you want to update it and make system changes.

Do you have any other tips for ensuring you don’t have to fix your relatives’ computers? Leave a comment and share them?

Image Credit: Senior Man in Front of a PC via Shutterstock

Join live MakeUseOf Groups on Grouvi App Join live Groups on Grouvi
Windows Hacks & Customization
Windows Hacks & Customization
97 Members
87 Members
Best Windows Software
Best Windows Software
59 Members
Windows Troubleshooting
Windows Troubleshooting
59 Members
Windows Firewalls & Antivirus
Windows Firewalls & Antivirus
19 Members
Ads by Google
Comments (32)
  • adrian mores

    Just install Web of Trust plugin. so that they will know what websites to visit or not depending on the color of the WoT icon.

  • Larry Green

    I am like many of you, it seems as if you help to fix their computer once and then they continually destroy it and never learn.
    I have tried to change their habits and to instruct them on the proper and safe use- to no avail, on multiple units (mostly repeat offenders with no consideration given for my time) I have given them an account with no admin privileges, this seems to work somewhat.
    I use Team viewer and when onboard- use Spybot Search and Destroy and and also Adaware
    They may not be the newest or best- yet for those that I recover for, it seems to fit the bill..

  • Mike

    The main problem with any of those solutions is that it then leads to calls on how to use those devices. The main problem with tech support calls from family is simple usage instructions; it’s rarely an actual troubleshooting issue (and yes, I’m talking about Windows, OSX, Android, and iOS here).

  • Eric Williams

    Other than Java and Adobe Reader, are there any other dangerous programs that everyone traditionally has that can be uninstalled?

  • Ricky Splinter

    or just use deepfreze save it to a state with porgrams they want and alow anti virus update’s and win updataes and it will fix it self evey time its shut down

    • a computer tech

      I prefer Deep Freeze myself, have used it a half dozen times. Once set up, is headache free for those who never should use computers :-) hehee.. and me too

    • Ricky Splinter

      i need to do that again im just lazy to do it on my system but i do evey thing in sandboxie or a VM these days

Load 10 more
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.