Why You Should Never Ask Friends or Family to Fix Your Computer [Opinion]

Tina Sieber 13-11-2012

Why You Should Never Ask Friends or Family to Fix Your Computer [Opinion] Tech SupportThere 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 geeks simply know how to use Google and aren’t afraid to try and follow instructions they found online. The thing is, this is an amateurish approach, which is fine when playing with your own computer. It becomes a problem, however, when someone else expects you to do a professional job.


The geek’s dilemma is they cannot reject friends or family. Helping them is a duty. But unless it’s an emergency, you burden your geek friend with an unfair amount of responsibility and work when you ask them to fix your computer. Let me explain how this works.

1. You Have Unfair Expectations

Clearly, not everyone who knows something about computers is good at troubleshooting issues and fixing them. And while anyone can search Google, play around, and eventually identify and fix the issue, it doesn’t mean they will do a good job. Yet somehow people expect anyone with a little bit of IT skills to be capable of offering professional tech support.

This is a huge misunderstanding. It’s like expecting a driving instructor to fix a car engine. Silly, right? Why should this be different for computers?

Why You Should Never Ask Friends or Family to Fix Your Computer [Opinion] Construction Site

And because you don’t realize how hard a job this is, …


2. You Won’t Honor Their Work Appropriately

Friends and family members won’t expect you to pay for their help. But do you realize how long it takes to troubleshoot computer issues and fix them if you don’t do this routinely? This is not a small favor! Typically, it’s a very time intensive job, which takes hours of research, trial & error, and it is always done with the awareness that …

3. You Won’t Appreciate Their Help If They Fail

Regardless of how hard they work, if they fail to fix the issue, you will be disappointed. And who could blame you? It’s knowing this that makes it so unattractive to help anyone with a computer issue in the first place. The geek is falsely looked upon as some kind of guru and if they cannot actually fix the problem, people are deeply disappointed in them.

Why You Should Never Ask Friends or Family to Fix Your Computer [Opinion] Computer Guru

4. You Will Subconsciously Suspect Every New Issue To Be A Result Of The Fix

Your computer is like a black box to you and you have no idea what your friend or relative did to fix the issue you had. So any new annoying problem you experience could have resulted from something they did to your system. And you will probably wonder whether that is the case. As a result …


5. You Will Definitely Ask Them For Help Again Next Time

Regardless of how their first attempt to help you went, you will ask them again. Maybe they did a great job and you are hoping for another miracle job. Or you feel they owe you because they messed up last time, and of course you are more than willing to give them a second chance to prove their skill. And so the vicious cycle continues…

Why You Should Never Ask Friends or Family to Fix Your Computer [Opinion] Help Button


I hope you realize I exaggerated. Despite everything said above, I urge you to ask your friends and family for help in the future! The truth is, people love to help. And now that your expectations have been set right, you can actually make it easy and enjoyable for them to help you. The trick is to approach them with the right mindset. Acknowledge that this is not their profession and ask them to give you nothing but their honest opinion.

They will offer to fix your computer for you if they think they can do it. In this case accept the offer, don’t have unrealistic expectations, ask them how long they spent on the task, and genuinely appreciate their help, even if they fail. They did the best they could do.


If they do not voluntarily offer their help, but merely speculate on what the issue could be, they probably don’t think they have the skills or time to take on this task. Ask them what they recommend you to do and trust their judgement. If in doubt, you can always hire a professional.

Finally, do your geek friends and family members a favor and don’t recommend them to people with obscure computer issues.


What is your experience with asking friends or family for help or being asked for help? Do you have any advice for either side?

Image credits: Tech Support via Shutterstock, Construction Site via Shutterstock, Computer Guru via Shuttestock, Help Button via Shutterstock


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  1. Jose Paolo Gonzales Otico
    December 17, 2012 at 1:41 am

    It's best not to think too much about it. Just help any way you can, ask for help when you're in need, and learn wherever you can. If things will go wrong, they will, but that's life.

  2. Xantes
    December 5, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    Your utterly wrong! I've frequently come across with people that were supposed to be highly qualified and trained and they couldn't come up to their training's expectations whatsoever!

  3. Gerald Huber
    December 1, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    Amen sister.

  4. Mike Gotteri
    November 19, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    Nice article - I think EVERYONE who wants to ask a friend or family member to help with IT/Tech issues should read this first! If people only understood what is or could be involved. I have spent multiple days backing up important data - wiping the HDDs completely, then re-installing the OS(s) and then getting the machine booting again - just to be repeatedly asked "What is taking so long?" If people only had some hint of a clue how time intensive forensic data recovery can be, it would make my life a whole lot easier! ;-)

  5. Somaiya Ebrahim
    November 19, 2012 at 7:04 am

    i get asked to fix my family's computers all the time...its hilarious! one time my cousin was puzzled why her new computer had all the buttons and the cd rom upside down..she didnt realize the cpu was upside down..haha :) maybe i should start charging for my easy money!

    • Tina Sieber
      November 19, 2012 at 9:59 am

      You mean the motherboard was upside down.

      • Somaiya Ebrahim
        November 19, 2012 at 11:13 am

        nah the whole chasis..not just the motherboard :)

        • Tina Sieber
          November 19, 2012 at 11:40 am

          Oh wow, that's hilarious! :D

  6. Jerry B
    November 19, 2012 at 5:31 am

    While this is true to some extent... I would never refuse to help my friends or family. It is why friends have that moniker, and my family would never refuse me in a situation, why would I refuse them? Does it get tedious? Yup, day one hour 3 of a brand new clean install and it comes back with over 400 viri and spyware infections....pain in the ass, but...if I wanted to fix anything for would surly be for them. Salvador is correct, it is a vicious cycle, but I ask ya...WHO do you most want to be stuck in those with....strangers, or family and friends.

  7. Caroline West
    November 19, 2012 at 4:13 am

    I agree!! I've often offered to help out a friend and then ended up thinking "Hang on, it took you forever to sort X problem out and I don't think I can even remember how I did it. I am going to look a right prat here", luckily I wasn't taken up on my offers!!

    Friends 'fixing' my laptop usually comes with that friend knowing someone who is absolutely 'brilliant' with computers and me getting all happy then being returned with an inadequate or zero successful job done.

    As much as most tech peoples services cost... I will be always going down that route!

    Fun article! :-)

  8. UnfairExpectations
    November 19, 2012 at 4:05 am

    Hi, For the past 15 years i have been working on computers as a hobby and doing repairs for friends and family members and this is the first time that I saw an article like this. This is funny to read because when someone wants you to fix there computer they don't realize how much time is involved. I will fix computers on my own terms like keeping the PC for an extended make sure everything works, backing up there data before and after the PC is fixed. If they are wanting there PC sooner, I have them do most of the leg work like the transferring of music and pictures to something else so they can get a feel of how long it will take.

    PS: I think this article should be on paper and given to your friends and family the next time they hand you a computer to fix...

    • Mike Gotteri
      November 19, 2012 at 2:20 pm

      Absolutely agree! ;-)

  9. Nancy B
    November 17, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    I was fortunate to have 2 geeky sons, 1 in fact works for the gov't fixing techie problems in their computers....the guy they call when the computer freezes etc. and if in office he comes in and says "move", or goes online and tells them not to touch anything....go for a coffee....and fixes it that way.
    My youngest at 16 build my first good computer and did have to get the help of a friend for a few minor things with the hardware, but has upgraded the parts a number of time. The older one will come in online and fix any software issues as he lives 600 miles away.
    They have taught me the basic troubleshooting things, and I'm surprised how many people don't know how to clean their cache or defrag at all.
    We did make it clear to friends of mine that wanted some help it wasn't free and they would tell them if it was dead or a part on their last legs.
    Worked so well I have 2 friends that actually pay them to go shopping with them for computers, cameras, cell phones etc.
    We haven't had the issue of someone messing up the fix and blaming anyone for the break as they have usually told them it's either outdated or on it's last legs as it was.....nope just bring them shopping for the next new thing!
    All in all, my youngest loves it as it gives him walking around cash for something either simple or to go shopping!

  10. acampb311
    November 17, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    preach it sister

  11. Srinivas N
    November 17, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    I like the fifth point..True Story..i experienced the both cases

  12. Aneesh Anand
    November 17, 2012 at 10:00 am

    LOLz. these things happen in every man's life. Thanx you didn't put a reason as - They will find your hidden xxx files. ;))

  13. Efi Dreyshner
    November 17, 2012 at 8:59 am

    3. You Won’t Appreciate Their Help If They Fail

    To much experience it this field :/

  14. Sean A
    November 17, 2012 at 6:03 am

    My parents will be forwarded this article. Someoone to explain :P

  15. Edilberto Durano
    November 17, 2012 at 4:35 am

    I agree with everything you say here. We should go to an expert and leave our friends alone, except if they're expert themselves and not just some geek who uses Google.
    Ed of

  16. Christine St Syr Griffin
    November 17, 2012 at 3:44 am

    no, no you are not exaggerating it is exactly the way your article says regarding asking friends to work on my pc so hilariously true. especially the black box theory. love the article.....maybe someday i will share my keylogger paranoia experience with you.

  17. arthur mandel
    November 16, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    :D wow does that hit home, I get asked allll the time to help with families and friends computers. If I try and explain that its hardware I get the , oh but please just make sure its cheap, then I have to go into the cheap hardware=cheap hardware speech. Oh so many lovely memories :) lol

  18. computer realist
    November 16, 2012 at 12:16 am

    Hmmmm i find this article amusing, see the problem is with computers is simple, the education system is broken when it comes to computers because you spend all that time and money to learn how to repair computers and computer networks and you come out of that course with high expectations for employment and think that suddenly you can repair computers for $50 an hour when in reality the course teaches you ALMOST nothing you can't learn on your own if you own a computer so you have all these computer repair shops and companies offering computer repair services for a hefty cost $50-$100 or more plus parts if needed when realistically the cost should be around $10-$20 plus parts because almost anyone at all that owns a computer and has done some trial and error can fix 1 so its not like being able to fix a computer is a rare thing id say 1/5 computer owners are fully capable of fixing a computer so all these people with educations are basically useless and got fooled into paying for a free education. Basically being able to fix a computer is as basic as learning to drive a car once you figure it out you just get it and its easy after that and is not a skill that is worthy of trying to make a living off of im sorry to all the people that read this and they did buy a free education but its the truth we live in a technology based world and only the rich should pass up learning how to use/fix a computer on there own to its full potential since they can just buy a new 1 whenever needed. I don't know the exact number but the number of computer tech graduates that are not employed in that field in all of north america is probably over 90%. It's like that for a reason. Also i don't know why this article says O it's a burden and alot of work to fix a computer because its simple and effortless no matter what the problem is like come on how hard is it to sit there and click a mouse or put in a disc or pull out 1 part and put a new 1 in OOOOoooooo that is soooooo hard omg i almost started to sweat last time lol, man those video cards weigh like 100 pounds and fit into so many slots idk if im strong enough to lift a video card or smart enough to figure out where it goes(it only fits in 1 spot and can't go in wrong so a monkey can learn it, its that easy and even the weakest of humans can handle it without effort lol). People with collage educated computer repair skills prey on the lazy and dumb people with money and that is wrong it shouldn't cost money to fix a computer unless it needs a new piece of hardware and that is the way it is in reality, maybe there are computer companies that would disagree but that is the reality of it, everyone knows someone that can fix a computer for little or no cost. I have fixed many many computers for free or at as little cost as 2 beers while i work and that is the way it is. I know this article is defending the unofficial computer repairers but come on you don't need a song and dance and a pat on the back just because you clicked a mouse or pulled out a part and put another 1 in the skills are nothing special and shouldn't be treated like its rare or hard to learn/do. If you own a computer and you don't know how to fix 1 then i suggest you start doing trial and error to learn or ask a friend to teach you because you shouldn't own a computer without learning how to maintain 1. That is the equivalent of buying a car and jumping in and driving it right away without a licence and without knowing how to use a car, what will the result be? Same as a person that buys a computer and uses it without any learning done ahead of time, THEY CRASH lol. I think every computer sold should come with a free dvd that shows how to maintain a computer properly and shows how to do repairs to software atleast. 90% of computer repairs are software problems due to lack of maintenance.

    O yea also computer stores also rip off everyone if you didn't know you can order almost ANY part sold in a store for 1/2 price just by buying it from an online company that gives factory direct prices here is an example, goto a store and see if you can find a computer like this for this price that i seen purchased with my own eye this month from an online factory direct company.

    6core phenom 2 CPU
    16GB of ram
    1TB hard drive
    1GB DDR5 Nvidia video card
    Windows 8 home
    1 keyboard 1mouse and all the wires needed
    $500 including tax and shipping
    1 year warranty
    Go right now and ask in a store how much they will charge for a computer like this i bet its over $1000 because computer stores generally mark up the price 100%-400% from actual cost
    I would type the site name but i don't want to advertize on this post.

    • Tina Sieber
      November 16, 2012 at 12:17 pm

      I disagree with you.

      In essence, all knowledge is free and anything you want to learn, you can study on your own. The reason people pay for a degree isn't because they could not have self-studied the material. There are many other reasons to get a degree, for example:

      1: You learn what people with experience in the field consider valuable. More importantly, you learn step by step, allowing you to grow a wholesome understanding of the subject, i.e. you follow a curriculum. This is hard to do when you know next to nothing about a field.

      2: You receive advice, support, and feedback from people with experience in the subjects you study. That way mistakes in your learning or understanding are corrected and don't manifest. More importantly, teachers can help you where you struggle, making it easier for you to understand and learn. This speeds up your learning.

      3: A degree gives you credibility because it proves that you learned (and hopefully still know) everything that is considered important in the particular field of your degree. It means you have a solid basis to build upon.

      A degree doesn't necessarily mean you have experience. It means you have the tools to solve a challenge in your field. In other words, you know enough to understand what information you need, where to get that information, and how to use it to address the challenge. By doing this over and over again, you gain, knowledge and a deeper understanding, i.e. experience.

      A degree gives you a kick-start. It's a way to obtain concentrated knowledge, much faster and much more comprehensively than most people are able to do with self-study. So if you really want to learn about a subject, taking some sort of degree is a great start. But learning doesn't end there. It never stops. So in the end, we are all self-taught, whether or not we have a degree.

      In the end, you can't know and do everything. You have to decide what it is you want to do with your time and where you want to pay someone else to do things for you. For some people it's the easiest thing in the world to construct a house, others love to farm the food you eat, and yet others are great at repairing computers. Are people stupid for spending money to eat out in a restaurant when anyone can cook their own food and have a great time at home? Didn't think so.

  19. Calgary Computer Repair
    November 15, 2012 at 11:13 pm

    I found that this is so true. My family always expects me to be able to fix any computer issues. Most of the time I can, but when I cannot they seem to think that I am lying and I am trying to get out of work.

  20. Robert Backlund
    November 15, 2012 at 10:50 pm

    I agree that this may apply for 80% of people who along with their friends and family classify themselves as geeks but that does not really apply to the remaining 20%. Keep in mind the key thing what is different from a professional and a skilled amateur? MONEY! The guy that calls himself a pro and charges for his services many times, at least in my experience knows less than a skilled amateur. One thing that most geeks share in common are that they only own one system and have not ever built a computer, only used them. I have been building my own systems since the mid 90's and have lots of spare parts and systems laying around and more than one running new system. So if I get a non working system from a friend or family member I can usually figure out very quickly what the issue is by simply swapping parts out for a known good one, yes this is a little more time consuming than if you have all the fancy test rigs but you still wind up with the same results. It has been my experience that the two most common issues with PC's are first A Microsuck OS problem and second a failed hard drive. The first thing I do is to pop in a Linux live CD or DVD and boot up the machine. This tells me very quickly if there is a hardware issue or just a problem with Windows. 99% of the time it is a problem with Windows usually caused by the user not keeping a good antivirus suite running and up to date. If it is a failing hard drive I usually am able to rescue important data to an external hard drive when booted into Linux using the live CD or DVD. Most other hardware failures occur must less frequently but if they do you can usually figure out what the failing component is by swapping out the suspected component with a known good one. In the past few years there has not been one PC that I have been unable to fix. There has been several times where my mother has spent several hours with tech support (so called professionals) where they have even logged into her system remotely and were unable to resolve the issue and finally out of desperation she called me, this has happened 3 times over the years and all 3 times I have been able to fix what the issue was, one time I fixed in less than 20 minutes what 8 hours and a remote log in did not fix by the so called pro's. A lot of people think that you get what you pay for but my experience in a lot of settings today, not just the computer industry but a wide variety of fields, car repairs home repairs etc. that there is unfortunately an increasing number of people with dubious skills and motives out there that will only part you from your money and not fix you problem and sometimes intentionally create more problems.
    I guess I have said all of this to say, you know what your own capabilities and limitations are, if you simply are a power user by all means do not accept the request to help, the same holds true if you are always pressed for time however if you are like me retired all I have is time so I do not mind when someone asks me for help. I am a retired aircraft repair technician by profession but I am a self taught IT person and have been building my own desktop PC's for years, I also have most of my systems configured to dual boot between Linux and Windows and deal with cross platform networking issues. My son is currently taking computer courses at our local college and I know from looking at his books etc that if I spent the money I could go down tomorrow and pass the A+ certification exams. When it comes to helping a friend or family member fix an ailing PC I quite frankly relish the challenge and successfully fixing someone's computer helps with one's feeling that he or she is still useful.

    • Tina Sieber
      November 16, 2012 at 12:25 pm


      It sounds like you have a passion and a great skill. Thanks for sharing it!

      Seriously, the world will become a better place if everyone does their job with passion. So if you are reading this and agree, do the world a service and use your true skills and passion to make a living. It will make the world a better place and yourself a happy person.

      I'm not saying you should charge your friends or family for your help. I'm just saying you should extend your skills to anyone, but not for free.

  21. druv vb
    November 15, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    Very nice aricle. I agree that repairing systems for family and friends is entirely a different story. Because whatever we, as computer technicians do, they will still want us to do more. Hope that newbies are reading this article and take note that repairing a system is not like reading emails...
    But still, computer technicians are here to help, whoever the client or user is.
    Good luck to all those who have helped a new user who just crashed the OS !
    Its a good read...

  22. Easton Wiki
    November 15, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    I am so done with people asking me for help. It just steamrolls out of control with friends of friends of friends asking for help. Gets very annoying. (family of course I try and always help best i can)

  23. AdriaanK
    November 15, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    Great article!!
    I loved reading it.
    It reminded me of all the times I go out to fix computer related problems.

    May I suggest the following:
    When I do fix someones computer or network or modem problem, I am
    proud of myself for solving the problem and therefor do not expect any
    I do however, if asked what they can give me for my time, always suggest
    a sosial get together where they provide me and my family with food.
    This way, my family get to meet the people that I helped and those people
    get to see whom they kept me away from.
    This makes the appreatiation so much more from both sides.

    I hope this works for you...

    • Tina Sieber
      November 16, 2012 at 11:48 am

      Love this suggestion, Adriaan! There is no better way to socialize than having a meal together. :)

  24. hotdoge3
    November 15, 2012 at 8:49 am

    fix the spyware then told you did in my pc come back and fix it can not get no the net drive 50km's find not pay isp

  25. Ole Funch
    November 15, 2012 at 7:55 am

    Great article.
    It's so stumpling true all of it, but YES, - it's difficult to say no when your friends askes you to do- so and so -, and, if you can't fix it !!!!!

  26. elhaj
    November 14, 2012 at 10:35 pm

    well while the above reasons are true and anyone may have faced most or all of them, I see the one to blame is the geek. of course people would have wrong expectations and it's the geek duty to tell them so, it's him that must swallow his pride and tell his friends "I DON'T KNOW" I can help you with x and y but z I know nothing about z, and one more important thing, when asked a question like: if I backup my data then I won't lose them? the answer is NOT "yes" the answer is "probably"

    • Tina Sieber
      November 15, 2012 at 9:34 am

      That's an excellent point, elhaj! Unfortunately, it didn't fit here because this article addressed the people being helped. However, I will definitely incorporate this advice in the post addressing the helpers.

  27. Brandon Clark
    November 14, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    I keep it simple, if I fix the issue the price is either beer or rum..

  28. dragonmouth
    November 14, 2012 at 8:32 pm

    Tina, you are preaching to the choir with this article.
    I worked in corporate Tech Support for quite a few years. During that time I learned that the users have only two rules when it comes to Tech Support. RULE #1 - It is always the fault of Tech Support. Rule #2 - If it is not the fault of Tech Support, see RULE #1.

    I like tinkering with computers and I am glad to fix them for otherss. But anybody that tries to blame me for their PC problems afterwards gets told in no uncertain terms to take it to a shop. My sisters in law have the worst Internet habits imaginable. They complained that their PCs are slow. I cleaned up the malware and adware, deleted all the accumulated cruft and did all the updates. Couple months later, their PCs are running slow again. All the garbage I cleaned out was back. People like that should get the Geek Squad to maintain their computers.

  29. Kenneth Clark
    November 14, 2012 at 6:58 pm

    I'm going to forward this article to my friends and family that I've helped because it is so true. I also read an article on Cracked about "why the person fixing your computer secretly hates you" and it too was well informed and revealing. We don't hate those people that we're helping of course, but sometimes we do get frustrated.

  30. Anonymous
    November 14, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    I usually try to help friends with computer problems without charge (donations accepted :) ) But the article hit the nail on the head... Some people are just ungrateful and anything else that happens afterwards automatically becomes my fault.

    I tried helping a lady at church by fixing her computer. She admitted herself that she didn't know what she was doing half the time and was just click happy. After two days of working on her OLD pc and cleaning up the umpteen million viruses and trojans, gave it back to her. Two weeks later she's back - so I take it and clean it up again, warning her I can't do this again. A month later she just brings the computer to me to fix it again, without even asking first. Mind you she hasn't even offered to compensate me for my time, gas, etc. Sadly I had to tell her I could no longer fix it.

    Worst part - other people in church just expected me to fix their computers for free. Had to start off my conversations with: "My rate is..."

    It's tough because I like helping others, but I'm sick of hearing how easy it should be for me to fix it. How would they know!


  31. Anonymous
    November 14, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    As a person who had professionally fix people's computer for 25 years, I know I have a lot of business when a customer told me their siblings/best friend/neighbours fixed their computer. Some common things they did:

    1. Loaded a bootleg copy of operating system (despite they have a legit copy of OS with a sticker on the computer somewhere) and in order to prevent Microsoft from disabling their OS; they also stopped Windows update. This leave system very vulnerable to malware.

    2. Install bittorent software on their computer to download movies/music. Leaving that computer wide open for using by a botnet to attack other computers.

    3. Load the WORST anti-virus suite out there that slows the computer to a crawl

    4. When in point 1, they didn't fully install all the drivers so a lot of things don't work anymore. e.g.: sound card drivers.

    This list is not exhaustive!

    • Tina Sieber
      November 16, 2012 at 11:18 am

      That's a scary list already. Sounds like some people have mean friends, but in reality they probably just did their best...scary!

  32. no_home_pcs
    November 14, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    There are other issues that keep me from ever touching a home PC. Because of my work, friends and friends of friends seek me out far and wide trying to save what they perceive to be the too expensive fees at the local computer store.

    But the main issue for me, outside of those mentioned, is there is always the possibility of finding something illegal, which would put me in the impossible position of ignoring or reporting it. What if I found a cache of "hidden" child porn while searching a drive for malware, or a spreadsheet showing illegal drug deals. I decided a long time ago, let someone else deal with home PCs. You couldn't pay me enough.

    • Tina Sieber
      November 14, 2012 at 5:54 pm

      Wow, never even considered it from that perspective. Have you had such a case? I would find that quite disturbing.

  33. DcOde Null
    November 14, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    Very well written, and very true... as one who has given much to my family and friends, it is very difficult to say no, and now I have a way to show them why I would... and shall say no, thank you.

    • Tina Sieber
      November 14, 2012 at 5:44 pm

      Well, hopefully you won't have to say 'no' if this article helps them change their expectations. :)

      • DcOde Null
        November 14, 2012 at 6:43 pm

        one can only "hope"... sometimes we have to learn lessons repeatedly...

  34. Terafall
    November 14, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    These reasons are exactly why I hate fixing computers

  35. Boni Oloff
    November 14, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    Haha. I like this article.. Makes me remember that some of the people i help never ask again, since i failed to make them understand something just cannot be repaired.. :D

  36. Mac Witty
    November 14, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    Great article to make people to think and understand that they are part of the game - not just an exploited person.

    I leave out family members as I think it has too much to do with the family patterns.

    When it comes to friends, I have from time to time felt exploited not only to fix computers but also to make Christmas cards, powerpoint presentations, and so on. Exploited by some but not by others, and it has almost never had to do with how much I helped , more if it had been a one-sided assistance. People who help me with what they can and always reach out a hand when I need, I'd love to help. Others who just want and never give anything back, I say either no or put up a "fee" as a proper dinner, cleaning windows or so.

    No, it's not about getting back exactly what I have done more to help and not exploit each other.

  37. Anonymous
    November 14, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    For some reason people seem to think that doing maintenance work on a computer that hasn't seen an update since it left the manufacturer is "fun". I have better things to do on my days off, thankyouverymuch.

  38. Noman Fayez
    November 14, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    It is always happening to me... but still I like to help my f&f..... they are helpless without me,, when problems come.....

  39. Anonymous
    November 14, 2012 at 10:15 am

    yeah that's very VERY true

  40. sueska
    November 14, 2012 at 1:04 am

    Thanks for this awesome article Tina. I am a person who enjoys helping other people, but there are times however (sighhh) that a lot what you said is true. I began to teach people how to do things themselves, have them take notes and now only support programs that I recommend. It initially takes more effort and patience, but try to have the person do the actually work even if you are stepping them through it. They will appreciate what is involved more. My button is pressed when a person requesting your helps insists that this should be an easy and fast fix.

    • Tina Sieber
      November 14, 2012 at 9:26 am

      Great advice sueska. I have been trying to do that and it takes a LOT of patience. While it might work out well in the long run if your subject is willing to learn, it's definitely faster if you just do it yourself.

      What I often do is I make them sit with me and explain everything I do. At least that way they they see how long it takes and can't blame me for something I didn't do. And if they are lucky, they pick up one thing or the other.

  41. Austin Halsell
    November 13, 2012 at 11:40 pm

    This article is hilarious in its utter truth. I am an IT worker, but outside of work, I rarely help troubleshoot other people's problems. But I honestly make so many exceptions to who I help. Two or three friends that I know understand the difficulty or are appreciative I will definitely help. Some people, like my grandmother, I could never turn down even if she was a total task master (she isn't at all; she's a total saint).

    I would add, however, that if a geek or the go-to-techie is in a little above his or her head, then they just need to say so from the beginning. When people ask me for help, I tell them to Google it if that's what I was going to do in the first place. We techies and geeks can't bs our friends and family and pretend that we know more than we do. I think that attitude just perpetuates the "help-me cycle" and definitely creates disappointment for the user requesting help.

    • Muo TechGuy
      November 14, 2012 at 9:18 am

      Googling an answer and actually understanding or being able to act on that answer is quite a different thing though.

  42. Chuck Long
    November 13, 2012 at 10:33 pm

    I am in that line of work and if you want my time you have to pay me. Only my immediate family gets the free plan and almost all of them are in this house so

  43. Larry Fischer
    November 13, 2012 at 9:49 pm

    I guess I've been pretty lucky so far. I have a large extended family and am almost always the go-o person for help with their computers. The only time I had a problem was when I helped a coworker with his laptop. He brought it from home and asked me to rid it of "all the viruses in it." As he handed it off to me he said, "My wife told me to tell you that if she ever has any problems with it after you worked on it, you're buying her a new computer." Needless to say I didn't touch it. Some people.

    • Tina Sieber
      November 13, 2012 at 11:02 pm

      Wow, what a rude person. Why would you ask someone to help you if you don't trust them? Guess she was praying for that new laptop, eh?

  44. Dany Bouffard
    November 13, 2012 at 9:48 pm

    The best way to approach this is to ask for payments to help them. I do this professionally and the only 4 persons I dont expect paiments are my wife, my 2 sons and my mother. Everyone else I give vague response and wont help thme unless I get paid.

    • Muo TechGuy
      November 14, 2012 at 9:19 am

      You don't make your wife pay for tech support? How generous of you!

  45. Anonymous
    November 13, 2012 at 9:16 pm

    People need to remember that you get what you pay for.

  46. Achraf Almouloudi
    November 13, 2012 at 9:08 pm

    I get asked many times for help. I can do it professionally but I largely don't have enough time for all of those typically silly issue as I should focus on my design & programming work instead. Installing an OS or fixing some software isn't really something I enjoy, especially when dealing with very slow and low on resources computers which tend to consume EVEN more time to fix, unfortunately .

  47. Joel Lee
    November 13, 2012 at 9:06 pm

    All of it can be summed up with a general trend that I see in society: self-entitlement and a lack of gratitude. I'll keep helping my friends and family with their IT issues if they ask for it, but I truly pity the people who exhibit the behaviors listed in this article. Nice writeup, Tina.

    • Tina Sieber
      November 16, 2012 at 11:15 am

      Thanks Joel and true that. Things suddenly become so much nicer if you don't take them for granted. :)

  48. ha14
    November 13, 2012 at 9:06 pm

    They did the best they could do. Thats right:)

  49. Econman
    November 13, 2012 at 9:03 pm

    I've had no problems. The biggest thing that I learned was to install many automated programs that do maintenance without me being there. Strong antivirus that's light on resources plus cleaners to purge all the Windows junk that accumulates from daily use. I've had less call backs and happier customers, so much so that I've gotten my fees plus added tips from people being so happy that they do not have to troubleshoot @ all.

  50. Cyra Calkhoven
    November 13, 2012 at 9:01 pm

    Im the geek in my family/ friendcircle and I allways fix stuff. Its a matter of pride, so hear me roarr!

  51. Marc Godhusen
    November 13, 2012 at 8:55 pm

    You might say that you exaggerated but I experience all this all the time as I'm the families geek! It's the best when my aunt doesn't know how to mark text or to close a window OR even worse when she goes into the BIOS everytime because she thinks you have to visit it in order to boot the computer! When she has a just more difficult issue, she even doesn't ask but just buys a new laptop! Fortunately, she gave us her last one. She poured coffee over the keyboard and thought the computer is broken. I just inserted a new one and it was good as new!

    And NO, I'm not exaggerating, too, this facts all happened just some weeks ago!

    • Tina Sieber
      November 13, 2012 at 11:00 pm

      What shall I say? Lucky you for getting an almost new laptop! :) Seriously though, I don't envy you, but I admire your patience.

  52. Jaxx D
    November 13, 2012 at 8:48 pm

    Absolutely true. In my case 2, 3 and 5 to be specific. It's like just coz I know computers don't make me an employee or even an inventor at some company like Intel.
    And hello do you expect me to like spoon feed you. I mean there is only so much that I can do. Just coz I'm helping you out doesn't mean you can call me up for each and every thing, especially installing a new piece of FREEWARE or for that matter even helping you run the AV scan of ur AV.
    And just my work doesn't include any investment doesn't mean I'm gunna work my ass of for you every time.

    How about you render your services to me free eh??? A BIG NO AIN'T IT!!!

  53. grandfred
    November 13, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    i like to help friends to fix their computers , it's like im their god ^^

    but sometimes i just dont understand how they dont understand their problem .

    one example was a friend who phone me , first he said internet is not working and we make test and everythings seemed ok .. then he said internet is not working , i can't go on google ... and i suddenly realized he was on msn ... lol wtf i said , internet is working !!! so tell me wat u type when u go on google ..

    and in fact he was going to [Broken URL Removed]


    • Tina Sieber
      November 16, 2012 at 11:14 am

      Well, not surprise then that many people cannot search Google for an answer. :)

  54. Anonymous
    November 13, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    I actually love to get asked to fix a computer by a friend or family member, it not only gives me more piratical experience but also give me an opportunity to build a name for myself. After all failure is not an option ..

  55. Josh Hill
    November 13, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    I actually don't mind. I work in a non-technical job, so it is more of a hobby for me. I enjoy it, even with the time it takes. Plus, I know when to say when and have them take it to a 'pro'.

  56. Rahul
    November 13, 2012 at 8:06 pm

    Help is always friends always call me when they encounter issues, though i say them that this is my expertise in this area and in this not but in the end they still feel i am a repair man who does his job digilently..if the problem is something big i'll straight way recommend them to service center

  57. John
    November 13, 2012 at 8:01 pm

    As that geeky friend, I approve this massage.

  58. Stan
    November 13, 2012 at 7:56 pm

    One of the best lines I ever heard was from a web designer. When someone complained about their website, the designer looked over & said, "Free means when I get to it." Someone getting something for free is often impatient.

    As someone who does laser printer repair, I agree with #4. Anything that happens within 30 days of my repair was my fault.

    • Tina Sieber
      November 13, 2012 at 10:57 pm


      I don't think you can compare professional services to repairing a friend's computer. In any case, your guarantee sounds very generous.

  59. RG
    November 13, 2012 at 7:49 pm

    Yes some of the points are valid but at the end of the day help is help. Try to help friends and family when possible, sometimes say no if you can't, no need to over analyze.

    • Tina Sieber
      November 13, 2012 at 10:53 pm

      I didn't say anywhere in the article that you shouldn't help your friends or family. In the Conclusion I even recommend people who need help to ask for it.

      • RG
        November 13, 2012 at 11:16 pm

        Understood. I meant that in my opinion this ('Never ask friends') isn't necessarily an issue in the grand scheme of things.

  60. Lola Carthy
    November 13, 2012 at 7:42 pm

    I used to fix my sister's computer all the time. She used to complain too. "Why aren't many toolbars as before?" "My computer can't have virus! Never had it" Anyway, when I move to another city, she hired a tech guy. When I came back 2 months later and asked to use her computer, the machine was about to die. He installed Windows 7 on a computer that barely could handle XP. I explained it to my sister but she said she had paid for it, so it had to be all fine. I was wrong, apparently.

    I stopped visiting her.

    • Tina Sieber
      November 13, 2012 at 10:51 pm

      Sad story, Lola. I hope you didn't stop visiting her because of her computer, though.

  61. Ahmed Khalil
    November 13, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    you will like this article but you will not do what you read in it so do not take it serous

  62. hugo
    November 13, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    I have a cheaper price for friends, don't work for free, except family.

    Also If is out of the city charge extra for diesel, dinner, night times, emergencies, etc... extra fee.

    Normally charge 1 hour and spent almost 2, so it's fair.

    If they don't like go to service store, and pay double.

    Never got complaints after implement this approach :)

  63. Matjaz Mirt
    November 13, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    How true!

  64. Anonymous
    November 13, 2012 at 7:10 pm

    this is absolutely true!!

  65. Priswell
    November 13, 2012 at 7:07 pm

    I have one or two people that I help whenever they ask, and while a couple of bucks for gas money is nice, I don't expect that.

    However, my terms for most other people is as follows: 1) I'm willing to do a little computer fix up if I have some extra time, but if you go right behind me and wreck it, or say I wrecked it, I may or may not fix it again. If I do fix it again, and you wreck it again in a short time, I won't come back. 2) I don't feel obligated to keep fixing your computer forever and ever without compensation - gas money is minimum, my regular rates is preferred, and they are usually way lower than an in-store geek. 3) I don't work for unappreciative so-and-sos. I don't want or expect grovelling, but if I work for nearly free, and you shine me on later, I'll be busy when you call the next time.

    • Tina Sieber
      November 13, 2012 at 10:50 pm

      Great advice, Priswell!

  66. Ole
    November 13, 2012 at 7:04 pm

    So I agree expectations by people can vary wildly including the understanding of how long a methodical approach to trouble shooting and fixing a PC can take time wise.

    But I have to disagree with your comment about "amatuerish' method if using using google or any search engine for that matter. It's a comment like that may have people questioning your geek credentials.

    These days there can be quite a lot of combinations of software and hardware issues and quite frankly if you do not use a search to accelerate and identify solutions and relevant info then you are the amateur.

    In fact I have found myself using search more in personal and business work with great success and I would think that I am part of an increasing trend. Its always funny seeing the look on your boss's face when you tell them you saved their ass by googling it! Priceless.

    BUT... having said that, I am very good at sifting through search results and pinning down relevant links at the top with my keyword selections quickly, something second nature to me now but I have come to realise this is where many who use search engines to do adhoc research and investigation will fail, get the right info, and bookmark stuff.

    The main problem I have identified with helping friends (i do enjoy hands on support) is the phone calls, once I kick that door open suddenly I am a 7 day a week support line with all the time in the world with no life, apparently.

    • Tina Sieber
      November 13, 2012 at 10:50 pm


      You do have a point. I should have explained better. It is an amateurish approach if relying on information found on Google is the only piece of knowledge, i.e. if they are learning by doing, rather than finding pointers to things they already have a basic understanding of.

  67. Kyle Taylor
    November 13, 2012 at 6:59 pm

    Woof, some grumpy people here in the comments. I thought this was an awesome read, because I can relate.

    Now even though I've been through this cycle, I still recommend friends and family members to contact me first before getting ripped off by Geek Squad or some other less-than-reputable computer repair services. I did happen to get a degree in IT, so I should at least use it for the power of good, right?

    • Tina Sieber
      November 13, 2012 at 10:49 pm

      Good point, Kyle! My conclusion is that you should ask friends or family for help for particularly this reason. You won't get more honest advise anywhere else.

  68. Vincent
    November 13, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    i disagree with this article, because my cousin is studied for technology (repairing computers)

    • Anonymous
      November 14, 2012 at 6:44 pm


  69. Matt Gilbert
    November 13, 2012 at 6:53 pm

    I used to build pc's and manage the internet sharing at home for my 10 brothers and 2 parents and yes, i can confirm that whenever there was an issue, it was always my fault. more often than not it was expected and it did cost me a lot of money. all of which i lost when i left home. now, if anyone wants any help, i verbally try to help, if thats not enough, you can pay me a call out fee.

  70. donviejo
    November 13, 2012 at 6:48 pm

    Please tell me that these rules shouldn't apply to married couples. Otherwise, you must be setting out to ruin my marriage. I always respond to all of my wife's computer ills, minor as well as serious. She apparently does not harbor unfair expectations and is appreciative of my efforts, whether successful or not.

    Using my modest computer skills on her behalf has only raised her opinion of me as some sort of technology guru.

    Maybe you guys don't understand what it takes to have a successful marriage. I am an old guy who has been around the block more than once. I have counseled all of the males in my family on some much simpler rules for success with a partner, male, female or otherwise.

    What you offer up does not work in a partnership.

    • Priswell
      November 13, 2012 at 7:20 pm

      I think this topic usually refers to people outside the house. I run the network and tech support all issues at our house, and I'm usually "on call" whenever needed (after I have my first cup of coffee in the morning), but I will say that my household doesn't include 10 brothers and 2 parents, like Matt Gilbert below. ;-)

    • Tina Sieber
      November 13, 2012 at 10:47 pm

      What rule are you referring to? Did you read the article? I do withdraw the statement made in the Headline in the Conclusion and explain why.

    • Lisa Santika Onggrid
      November 14, 2012 at 10:57 am

      Well, it only applies to people who're descibed in those points. Your wife sounds to be the best kind of person for a techie to work with, so keep it on. You're extremely fortunate.

  71. Anonymous
    November 13, 2012 at 6:22 pm

    help from friends in terms of PC xD
    that's freakin' joke
    they are f""" my brain for fixing their PC xD

  72. paul
    November 13, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    I am sorry you all have such unthankful and suspicious family members. I help mine out all the time, and have done this for years. I have never had the experiences your are talking about. Anyway your whole post sounds like you have been hurt by friends and family over trouble shooting, and you just think the same thing must happen to everyone. I think this is just silly.

    • Tina Sieber
      November 13, 2012 at 10:45 pm

      Paul, did you read my conclusion? I did exaggerate and I realize most people aren't like that.

      I have described the worst case, which I haven't really experienced. However, I have experienced all of the above at one point. And I have learned how to set expectations before I help others. Keep in mind though that this post was targeted at people asking for help, not people fixing stuff.

    • Lisa Santika Onggrid
      November 14, 2012 at 10:55 am

      Family members, maybe. Friends and acquaintances? Here comes the nightmare. You might be a fortunate guy with wonderful circle of friends, but not everyone have it. Beside, Tina was pretty much joking about the seriousness of her post. At the end she told us to help and ask for help.

  73. Lisa Santika Onggrid
    November 13, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    These reasons are exactly why I stopped offering helps to my friends or acquaintances. Number four is the biggest offender. Okay, I fix the problem with their USB, so why are they blaming me when their internet speed slowed down or their hard drive being unresponsive?
    There was this one time I helped my teacher cleaning his PC from rogueware. My mom picked me right after I fixed the registry. All that was left was scanning the system once again to clean the leftovers, then reboot. I told him the steps and went home. Big mistake. The next day he said he didn't know what to do and panicked. Whatever he did, he somehow deleted half his data and caused BSOD. I knew he was accusing me for 'playing with his PC' and 'dangerous operation'. At the end, that case was a mixture of point number 2, 3, and 4 all at once.

    • Anoop Sudhakaran
      November 13, 2012 at 7:08 pm

      I have to agree with this article and your comment, I get into these repair situations quite a lot and often when I am in hurry and ask them to perform some simple left over tasks such as Reboot after this dialog box etc, They mess up and blame me for their mess. Since quite a few similar situations popped up, I stopped giving visits to their PCs and try to answer verbally. If it doesn't work out I suggest them to call a service center or talk to their manufacturer. :)

      • Tina Sieber
        November 13, 2012 at 10:41 pm

        Maybe the solution is never to get into a situation where you have to hurry and leave last steps to someone who could still mess up. Tough I know.

        • Lisa Santika Onggrid
          November 14, 2012 at 10:53 am

          You're right. Sometime we end in wrong time and place, though.

        • Reg
          November 15, 2012 at 3:55 am

          How many times I have found myself running out of time with just one or two steps to accomplish... But alas, there is always something unexpected that pops up and MUST be addressed before resolution is complete! If I can remote into it from else where I know I can finish the job, so I'll just say 'leave it alone for now'. If not, I know I'm taking my chances to leave remaining steps in their hands.

          I think that is why I'm starting a business doing this. Now at least I can charge for my time. Though admittedly, not all the time.

        • Ole Funch
          November 15, 2012 at 7:57 am

          I'm just thinking the same thoughts

    • Douglas Mutay
      November 14, 2012 at 1:14 pm

      Wow, Lisa! I can understand why you took the decision to stop offering help to your friends and family and you're right. But agree with me that it's not always easy to stop. I am trying myself but not sure it will happen. And sometime my wife tells me that I shoudl start asking to get paid for all that I am doing for my friend on their PC, but I think it's too late now to ask for money...;-)

    • Kenneth Clark
      November 14, 2012 at 7:05 pm

      Yuck. I sympathize with you Lisa and I hope that the experience won't sour you to helping others in the future. Too many people think that their "magic black boxes should just work". The fact that those of us that know the finer points of computing get labeled as saboteurs if we don't work the perfect magic is an injustice but we must never stop trying.

    • pete jr. josue
      November 16, 2012 at 5:47 am

      this happens a lot to me too. i have to agree with this. friends and family always blame on you when you left them with a note after rebooting their computer after a major fix. but still i always end up fixing them until they operate smoothly. they just dont realize the the hard work under all that.

  74. salvador hernandez
    November 13, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    this was fun to read, i get asked and volunteered a lot at home to friends and family of friends and family. vicious cycle.