If you’ve found yourself here, I’m guessing that your computer is broken and you’ve already decided that fixing it yourself probably isn’t something you want to do.
So what’s next?
All you know for sure is that your computer needs to stop being broken as soon as possible, but do you call tech support? Do you take it to a computer repair service?
Before you do anything,
First Things First: Don’t Panic
Before we get to your options for getting your computer fixed, I want to make sure you feel comfortable with the idea of getting it fixed at all.
It can be a scary thought, trusting your priceless data with people you don’t know. How do you know if your data is safe from being erased or, maybe worse yet, safe from being looked at by the repair tech?
Time and money are also big concerns. Knowing how much the repair might cost, if the problem is so big that a new computer is a better idea, and how long they might have the computer are questions I hear all the time.
See Getting Your Computer Fixed: A Complete FAQ for answers to those questions, plus a lot more about getting a computer or other technology worked on.
Now that you’re hopefully more comfortable with the idea of trusting someone else with your computer, or have at least taken precautions to protect yourself, here are the three main options you have to get your computer fixed:
Option 1: Ask a Friend to Fix it for You
Very often, your best bet is to ask for help from a more technology savvy person in your life.
The advantages of getting a smart friend to fix your computer problem are clear: it’s often completely free and also usually the fastest way to get back up and running.
Don’t think you know someone that can help? You probably do. Everyone seems to know someone that’s “good with computers” and if you think about it, someone surely comes to mind. (myself included)
In fact, I bet somewhere in your extended family is a “go-to gal/guy” that always seems to have the answer to your computer question. The 12 year old down the street is probably worth asking, too!
If you’re lucky enough to have this friend live close by, you’re in great luck. If not, and the problem isn’t too serious, she or he might be able to fix it remotely. There are plenty of free remote access programs that your friend can use.
While it’s still fine to get help from a friend, if your computer is still under warranty, be sure to let your friend know so they don’t do anything that might void that warranty. If your friend gets to that point in their troubleshooting, then Option 2 is probably a better way to go.
Finally, because you surely want to keep friend and family gatherings conflict-free in the future, take a look at my How to Describe Your Problem to a Computer Repair Professional for some helpful tips. Even though you’re not an expert, there’s a lot you can do to make fixing your computer go smoothly.
Option 2: Call Tech Support
If you’re “lucky” enough to experience an issue early in your ownership of your computer then you may be entitled to free technical support as part of your warranty, up to and including a replacement computer.
Most computers come with at least a 1 year warranty but your computer may have come with a longer one, or you may have purchased an extended warranty at the time you bought your computer.
Unfortunately, most computer owners don’t know what sorts of problems are covered by their warranties, nor when that warranty ends. If you aren’t sure, and can’t find your warranty details, find your computer maker’s phone number and give them a call to find out.
Your computer maker’s tech support service may still be able to help even if your computer is out of warranty, but that help will probably cost you a high hourly fee. In this case, it’s often cheaper and easier to hire independent help: Option 3.
Please read How to Talk to Tech Support before you call. Being prepared, and knowing how to communicate the problem with your computer, could save you time, repeat calls, and even money.
Technical support usually starts with an over-the-phone conversation, meaning you may be doing the hands-on computer troubleshooting work at the request of the technician at the other end of the line. Problems that can’t be solved together over the phone usually result in you having to mail the computer off for several weeks. If you’re lucky, a local authorized service center is another option.
Tip: If you’re experiencing a major problem with your computer very soon after buying it, asking to have the computer replaced completely is often a good idea. With no important data for you to worry about saving, it’s often easier for everyone involved to just swap it out.
Option 3: Hire a Computer Repair Service
Last, but certainly not least, is the option to hire an independent computer repair service.
All cities in the world, and even most smaller towns, have more than one option when it comes to computer repair services. Unfortunately, many choices doesn’t make choosing easier – quite the opposite.
See How to Decide Where to Take Your Computer for Repair for lots of help figuring out which service is going to be best for you. There are actually a number of things to consider.
Also, before committing, be sure to look through my Important Questions to Ask a Computer Repair Service. There you’ll find the questions you should be asking, and the answers you should be getting.
Finally, I want to mention online computer repair as an option. When you hire an online computer repair service, you typically start with a phone call and eventually allow the service to connect to your computer remotely so they can fix the issue.
See Is Online Computer Repair a Good Option? for more on those services, which usually cost less than getting your computer fixed at a local store.
Unfortunately, since remote access is such a huge part of this type of computer fix-it service, it’s usually only a good idea if the computer issue you’re having isn’t impacting your ability to connect to the Internet.
Still Not Sure What to Do?
Hopefully everything you’ve read to this point has been helpful and you have a clear path forward to getting your computer fixed.
If not, especially if you’re still nervous about some aspect of getting your computer repaired, or if you’re now thinking you might want to give it a shot yourself after all, please know that you’re welcome to ask me for advice.