3 Simple Steps To Fixing Your Computer Issues

Tina Sieber 14-11-2012

fixing a computer Every day dozens of tech questions cross the desktops of editors and contributors on MakeUseOf Answers. Many of them are easy to answer and have actually been asked and solved previously. Looking at other Q&A forums, the same scenario unfolds.


It seems that many people don’t understand how to use the Internet. Or maybe they are overwhelmed by the amount of information presented. Or are they just plain lazy? Worse yet, I suspect there is a much, much larger number of users who never deal with issues in the first place. They simply accept error messages, slow computers, and broken hardware or software until their system breaks down completely. They do this, even though they have access to the Internet, where easy and free solutions are relatively easy to find.


One example. The other day I met a neighbor in the staircase. We chatted and she casually asked what my job was. I explained that I work for this website, managing a Q&A forum and writing articles about computer software and online tools. As soon as I had dropped the world ‘computer’, I had her full attention. She put on an impish grin and begged to ask a question. She went on to explain about her computer that didn’t turn on anymore, wondering what could be the cause. The thing is, I know she has WiFi and thus I suspect she has another Internet-enabled device she could use to search for help.

So I have been wondering what makes it so hard for people to look or ask for help and how to help them. This article is my answer. It’s for anyone with IT issues who isn’t currently dealing with them. It is a quick and easy instruction on how you can find help yourself or easily receive help. For free. The only requirement is that you have access to the Internet and use it. Anywhere.

1. Search Google

Yes, Google it ! Whatever your issue is, go and type your question into a search engine, for example Google, then see what comes up. With over 300 million websites out there, chances are someone posted the exact same problem on a forum, someone else solved it, and Google will find it for you. This is how MakeUseOf receives a lot of traffic every day.

fixing a computer


If you don’t get a match immediately, try to reword your question and watch for what searches Google suggests. Here are some tips how to properly use Google search:

2. Ask Your Question On a Q&A Forum

So Google didn’t give you any satisfying results or you are overwhelmed with the amount of information. Don’t panic, that’s fine! That’s precisely the reason forums exist. You need step by step instructions from real people. And fortunately there are people who love to help and they are waiting for you to ask your question. Seriously!

First, find a Q&A forum that matches the topic of your question and post your question. Remember that the people you are asking don’t know anything about you or your situation. So provide them with all the information they may need. For example if you have an issue with a specific website, include the URL, any error messages and symptoms, the browser you are using to access the website, other browsers this issue does or doesn’t occur with, and what you have tried already to fix it. Yes, do mention that you have searched Google and couldn’t find a solution that made sense to you.

Here is a list of Q&A forums for technology and internet related questions:


need help fixing my computer

3. Ask a Friend

If you are not able to fix the issue yourself because no one understands what you are talking about or because the suggested fixes are too complicated, ask a friend for their opinion or help. Before you do that, please read this article Why You Should Never Ask Friends or Family to Fix Your Computer [Opinion] There seems to be this huge misunderstanding that anyone who knows something about computers is a geek and can fix them, regardless of what is broken. In reality, when it comes to complex issues, most... Read More of mine, especially the conclusion!

I understand that it isn’t always easy to ask someone else for help. Let me tell you though, that people love the recognition they receive, when someone asks them for help. When you ask them for help, you do so because you think they have the skills to help you. In other words, you acknowledge their skills. This is an honor! So being asked for help is appreciated, as long as it is done with the right mindset, occasionally, and without abusing the helpfulness.

To make it even easier for someone else to help you, offer them ways to help you without having to visit your home. Obviously, this will only work if your computer is still running, if you have Internet, and if you are dealing with software issues, rather than hardware damage. There are many remote support tools 12 Excellent, Free Screen Sharing & Remote Access Tools You Haven't Heard Of Yet Thanks to remote access, you can see and control screens from anywhere. This can save time and confusion when you are in a meeting or want to help someone. Keep these screen sharing tools close... Read More you and your friend could use. One of them is Soluto, which we have written about here:


fixing a computer


I didn’t offer to help my neighbor. When she asked her question, I could see myself crawling underneath her desk, pulling out a dusty old desktop PC, working on it for hours, ordering parts, re-installing Windows 98, and subsequently being her best ‘can you fix this‘ buddy forever. Honestly, that’s a nightmare. You don’t do that for strangers, you only do that for people you love!

So what is keeping you from fixing your annoying PC issues? Do you need help?

Image credits: Oops! via Shutterstock


Related topics: Computer Maintenance, Tech Support.

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  1. Edward Bellair
    December 4, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    There are some people out there that really don't understand what or why. The best thing for them is to have an IT person around. Sadly. But that said GOOGLE is the starting point for most people I know and if someone doesn't know it I make sure to tell them.

  2. Sri Vastav Reddy
    November 20, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    Oh! Tina u'r pretty straight forward :)
    that really helps..

  3. Scutterman
    November 16, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    I think there should be another step added. Before posting to the Q&A forum you should search the forum. Sometimes it'll find relevant results that Google missed.

    • Tina
      November 21, 2012 at 10:13 am

      Good point, too. Though if it didn't come up during the Google Search, why should it come up when searching the forum with the same (bad?) keywords? Some people also need to learn how to properly use a search engine. I'm a dreamer, I know. ;)

      • Scutterman
        November 21, 2012 at 2:03 pm

        It's not impossible that a site search bring up better results in a particular situation than google. I know google has probably the best search engine algorithms in the business, but the Q&A search will have a much more specific data pool and different priorities. Google is looking at everything and the Q&A search is looking from a question / answer perspective.

        I know pretty much all of the tricks of good searching, and it's rare I can't find what I need. But on the occasion when I do go to ask a question, I have (rarely, admittedly) found the answer I was looking for through the site's own search.

    November 16, 2012 at 6:31 am

    HI Why not just get her to buy a new cheap emachine and u don't say when incident happened. Good to be a good Samaritan I pray for us too.

  5. Anonymous
    November 15, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    Microsoft Answers is another great, reputable places to get windows answers.

  6. Nicole ?
    November 15, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    google knows everything ^-^

  7. Mart Küng
    November 15, 2012 at 9:41 am

    Not everything is gold that shines: when you search for solution online, be sure what it actually does. There are many forums, blogposts etc that have solutions and nobody has ever checked hoe valid they actually are. So you might end up being worse of than before "fixing" your problem.

    And for QA:
    Many different categories there, many not related to IT though.

    • Tina Sieber
      November 16, 2012 at 11:11 am

      Good advice, Mart. And thank you for adding StackExchange!

  8. Terafall
    November 15, 2012 at 8:37 am

    No 4:Post your question at Makeuseof Answer
    That way you get your answers and people get their points

    • Tina Sieber
      November 15, 2012 at 9:31 am

      Actually that was number 2. :)

      • Terafall
        November 15, 2012 at 1:24 pm

        Thank you for pointing that out.I think I must have miss that

  9. Nikhil Chandak
    November 15, 2012 at 7:08 am

    Thanks for the tips
    I always search on Google first and then on any other search engine for helping people !

  10. Lisa Santika Onggrid
    November 15, 2012 at 5:29 am

    How people rose from layman to 'geeks'? The wit to search for information and a couple of guts to try it themselves. I too, always wondered why people can't utilize Google more than searching for the newest music billboard or cat pictures. I fix my problem myself with the help of search engine, and my friends think I'm magical for being able to do that without going to repair shop. Tips: if your computer pops up error code, note it down and start your search to find the meaning. It's a good start.

  11. Anonymous
    November 15, 2012 at 2:15 am

    Ok this is just my opinion. Not because there are a wide variety of information on anything or at least almost anything you could think about means everyone will use the internet to solve their computer problems, especially not average uses. You see from my knowledge and personal experience some ppl just simply dont care about computers. All they want to use the computer to do is browse to internet to check email, go on facebook and maybe just type up an document for work, these are the ppl who would rather just call a technician to fix the problem as they will not care to learn to fix it on their on. Some of those same ppl will call the technician the moment their computer starts to give any problem at all and don't mind paying the money where some of them may not want to pay as they believe it will be too much money and just wait until a major problem occurs and then call the technician. Then there are another st of users who are interested in computers and are willing to sit day and night to fix it but just dont like to read. They may even be some users who are willing to read on what the problem is and how to fix it but are just afraid they may destroy the PC. In the past I used to hate to read I will sit day and night trying to fix a pc and not move until it is fixed if i could not solve the problem I will ask a technician I knew, that was because I hated to read but now after gaining work experience working as an IT assistant in the past I realized how important the theory was and now I just love to ready about IT (nothing else though), I just love to read and learn about hardware and software especially software. I will also like to say not because of the wide variety of information on the internet means an you should immediately go and relay on the internet for every problem you face I believe if you are a interested in IT you should think on your own and try to solve the problem and then if you are unsuccessful the you should use the internet. Google makes you lazy dough it has its advantages.

    • Tina Sieber
      November 15, 2012 at 9:32 am

      Love your way of thinking, Brandon. Engage the brain first, try to understand it, and only if you fail find the resources that will teach you.

    • Burnsie
      November 15, 2012 at 4:50 pm

      I think part of what you are saying is that some people are scared of computers, and those of us that arnt are asked to come to the rescue whenever a problem arrises. Some people can and will pay, others cant or wont.

      I always think that using a computer should be like using any other piece of equipment, you should have training before you are let use on it.

      For those that are just to lazy to look, I find that is a good site to point them at :-)

  12. eric
    November 15, 2012 at 12:52 am

    number 1 really helps, just search over the internet and it would really help fix issues.