I’m going to explain to you the process that one can go through to fix their own computers. This is specifically geared towards PC users, as Macs are exempt from most of these problems– the searching for problem fixes section you may still want to read though. By using this process I’ve never had to pay to get a computer fixed in the past 15 years of being a computer user. It is, however, lengthy, and kind of daunting. If you don’t want to bother reading, or are leary of trying it out on your own, I am available to you at a nominal cost. Contact me either by phone at 225-366-9324 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss what you need done. I offer phone consultation, remote access support (where you stay at home and grant me access to your computer from my own computer), or on-site support within my service area. Travel expenses may apply.
Let me start off by saying that I am not formally educated in IT work. I do not have a certificate (though I’m contemplating getting one) nor have I a degree or any of those official type documents that confirm that I mean it when I say that I know what I’m talking about.
If your computer is fixable, if it can be saved, I can save it. But you didn’t go to school Kelly, how can you say that? Because I’ve saved countless computers before, and will continue to. My Dad is an engineer, and as such he’s taught me through the years about the art of taking everything apart and building it back together again.
Plus, I have this inherent bullheadedness that when I sit down at a computer screen and it tells me I can’t do it, I damn well am going to MAKE it do what I want it to do!
Now what’s funny is that my Dad, the aforementioned engineer, can do most anything else, but when his computer goes NO!, he calls me to fix it. One such time, he asked me to make him a How To Make This Computer Work When You’re A Damn Engineer and STILL CAN’T DO IT Guide. This is that.
If You Don’t Want to Deal With This, Get a Mac
No, there’s no need to expand on that. Simply put, Mac’s are exempt.
Why I’ve Never Ever Paid For Someone Else to Fix My Computer
Because there is no problem in existence that can happen to your computer that some tech-guy on some tech-forum hasn’t already told countless people how to fix. If your system keeps doing stuff, or oh blessed day, keeps giving you a pop up like “driver display is not operating properly”, you can find the fix to that problem on some, if not all, tech-forums.
Abstinence is the Best Way to Not Get Impregnated
Never, ever click on something you don’t recognize. In fact? Don’t click on something you DO recognize (except that stupid Adobe Update that annoys the crapola out of me and everyone else, yes, it really does update that often – > go into preferences and turn “automatic update” off).
Other pop ups that are okay are for programs you for sure know you have, such as certain anti-spyware, or your virus scanner. Other updates usually hover over the system tray saying “updates ready to be installed”, or upon you opening that product, it tells you to update it. It’s like when you’re credit card company calls and wants you to set up a payment schedule, you never ever give them your bank info: You say, “nope, I’ll call the number on the back of my card so I can verify you are who you say you are.”
I don’t care if it pops up WARNING YOUR COMPUTER IS ABOUT TO IMPLODE, OMG CLICK HERE TO FIX IT!” In fact? Especially if that’s what it says. Don’t click “ok”, don’t even click the “x” close box. Your best bet is to use the task manager (control+alt+delete) to close all of your browsers. And if you want to be safe, reboot in safe mode (depending on operating system), run all of your malaware/anti-spyware/virus scanners/etc (talked about in a bit), and then reboot in regular mode. Sometimes, especially with that bitch called “Windows Recovery” Virus that actually fooled me, once you see that popup, you’re already screwed.
It’s always best to have two computers, because a lot of viruses/etc shut off your ability to get online. If you yourself don’t have 2 computers, ie a laptop and a pc, then this is going to be very annoying for you as you’re probably going to have to go to your parents house/friends house, download the programs you don’t already have, load them on a flash drive, and then come back home. Then, you may need to have a very, very understanding friend/parent do your research for you if the programs don’t fix it, and then you’ll have to go over there AGAIN to download the Fix It programs. Eeep. (This is usually when people call me, as I have two laptops, a pc, and a dogged determine to make that computer my slave!)
- BLUE SCREEN OF DEATH TIME! IE, you have an issue. No, I don’t mean only if you have the blue screen of death. If your computer is running slow, if you suddenly can no longer access your files, if you suddenly can no longer access a certain folder/program/file. If you keep getting popups. If you keep freezing, if your computer keeps shutting itself off. Etc etc etc.
- Reboot in safe mode.(depending on operating system)
- Run your virus/anti-spy/malaware programs (addressed in next section)
- Reboot in regular mode and see if it fixed the issue.
- If not, start searching the forums.
- You may need to reformat or restore your computer to an earlier date.
- If you get to this point and after some effort still can’t fix it? You probably need to go to whatever computer fix it shop is around you, or buy a new computer. I’ve never gotten past 6 and failed to fix it. As a matter of fact, before you pay? Email me (email@example.com), or call 225-366-9324. Maybe my google-fu can help you better than your own can.
Programs You Should Absolutely Have
If you had these programs and ran them regularly, your chances for getting infected, getting viruses, running into problems would be decreased by… just, a lot. The problem is, no one knows this, and they don’t know it until they’re infected.
You need 1 anti-malaware, 1 anti-virus program, probably I’d say 2 anti-spywares, “defraggler” (your system’s defrag is fine, I don’t remember why defraggler is better, but I remember I was told at some point that it was) and a program literally called “crapcleaner.”
When you run into a problem of your computer running slow, having interminable pop ups, freezing, shutting off, inability to do something that you’ve always been able to do, or just general… bleck-ness to your computer, stop what you’re doing and run these programs.
Order in which I run them…
- CCleaner because it’s fast, frees up space, and is a registry cleaner.
- Malawarebytes because it does the most, to the most, the quickest.
- Run at least one if not both anti-spywares.
- Run virusware scan (last step because it should have caught it real-time)
I will explain below what each thing is, but to put it up front, yes, this is repetitive. Most of these programs copy the next… Malawarebytes gets rid of spyware and viruses and trojans and worms and everything, Kelly, why don’t I only need that? Well, because you want to cover your butt, and there’s a new malaware/worm/trojan/etc out there every day, maybe three of your four programs won’t catch it but the other will. Yes, it’s annoying, yes it’s time consuming, but once you’re infected trust me, you’d rather spend that extra 2 hours running 4 programs rather than 1 and still being infected.
Note: Aside from CCleaner, these programs take time. I mean, woah, time. Don’t do this and ONLY do this. Read something and check the progress periodically. Do your dishes. Clean your house. Go to the grocery store. A half an hour per program is not unheard of, except for sometimes it takes longer than that. Especially the deep cleaners.
Crap Cleaner :
It will probably delete your passwords, as that takes up temperary memory. Make sure you know your passwords before you run this. It cleans out your caches, temp files, empties recycle bin, basically frees up spaces, and then it can also clean your registry. No, for the love of pete, you really don’t need your own registry cleaner, no matter who tells you you do. The minimal amount of registry mucking around that you as a novice needs to be doing, CCleaner will do for you.
This is a program I use weekly, I find it handy dandy, I love it, I want to have it’s babies. Download Crap Cleaner for the love of everything fast-running and computerly. You click on Cleaner, leave everything checked, hit “analyze.” Once it’s analyzed, “run cleaner”. Actually? I don’t even analyze first anymore, I trust it and just hit “run cleaner” off the getgo. Then click on Registry, and hit “scan”. Then hit “fix”. You can create a backup of the registry if you want, but most computers create backups regularly so you can always revert back to a previous day at any time.
Malaware is the umbrella. It’s the whole kit and kaboodle, it’s viruses, worms (the worst and I’ve found hardest to get rid of), trojans, spywares, etc. If you decide to ignore the paragraph above about why you should run all of these programs when you have a problem, THIS is the one to download.
Malwarebytes Anti-Malware: Perform the quick scan. Trust me on this, that takes long enough (~20 minutes), if your computer is well and bogged down and you feel the need to do the full scan, start it and go to bed for the night, let it do it while you’re sleeping.
Viruses suck, viruses will KILL you. The problem is, anti-virusware loves to slow your roll way the hell down. The professional ones, Macafee, Norton, all of those? WAY slow your computer, they bog it down and weigh it down, and you spend half of your time online tapping your fingernails on your desk going “jesus, why can’t I just get to this site already!” They even mess with your Word programs!
There’s no need for that. There are several, FREE, anti-virusware programs that do not slow your system down, and work perfectly fine. I use and love Avast, as I don’t even remember it’s there until I need it, and I never need it, so it’s like it doesn’t exist. Don’t pay for it, don’t upgrade, they try to upsell you but all you need is the free edition.
Warning: Do not use AVG, it slows you way down and acts like the plague when you try to remove it, and it loves to give you false positives to try to get you to upgrade to the pay version.
The dreaded neverending popups. The number one leading cause for a slow computer. I run this once a month, but I should probably run it once a week. I generally set one to go when I’m done being online as they do take a while (~30 minutes each), but it’s worth it to run it even if you don’t have a specific “need.” Sometimes you’ll be infected and not notice it yet, and these maintenance scans will keep you in the clear.
Pick at least 2. The first two are my preferences, as AdAware is slow…. er. Again, if they offer pay versions, ignore it, do the free.
- Spybot Search & Destroy: this also includes a live-time add on, that will pop up if a program is trying to run itself, which is a spywarey thing to do, or if you go to a website that’s infected, etc. You should probably install it and let it run, but the popups annoy me, and it does it an obnoxious amount of times, so I PERSONALLY would rather get infected and have to run it after infection than have it pop up and annoy me. During the install process you can opt to have it installed or not.. it’s pre-checked, so you have to specifically un-check it.
I don’t now how much use this program will be to someone whose not technosavvy except for if you do go to a forum to solve a problem, and you make your own post, most of the geeks will ask you to run this program and post your log there so they can look in your system and see what’s running. If you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t run this and fix the issues as some of them are issues and some of them will mess up your computer further if you “fix” it when it didn’t need to be fixed. So, only use this if you’re posting to a forum and they ask you to, and then THEY will tell you what to check and “fix”. (Or, call or email me your log and I can).
Defrag takes the most amount of time. Seriously, go to sleep while this is running and it STILL may not be done. This consolidates your data. This is probably the BEST way to make your computer run faster/more efficiently. If you have an issue/virus/spyware program, this won’t help you… if you are running slow, this and CCleaner is what you most need. Your systems defragger is found in the start menu -> all programs -> accessories -> system tools, disk defragmentor. Don’t analyze, just defrag it and go to bed, leave the house for work, go about your life. Do not sit there and watch it.
Again, I don’t recall why defraggler is better, but it’s by the same guys as ccleaner and I trust that program so much that I immediately by default trust this one as well. It does the same thing as your system’s defrag, but i believe faster and more efficiently.
Tech Forums to Trust
I read tech-forums like I read the news: If I really want to know what the deal is, I go to multiple news sources/tech forums, and see which programs/news is presented on multiple sites. In my many, many, oh boy many, searches for problems/fixes/etc, I have come to trust several tech forums the most.
How to Search
I don’t mention these forums so you can go there and find your problem, oh man talk about a needle in a haystack. I’m talking about, when I search for my fixes I see if any of the resulting links are to techguy.org/etc. I go to those links first. I always read at least 3 fixes before I actually act on it.
Now, as far as how to search for your problem? First of all, I use google, but I suppose any search engine would work. Search for exactly your specific problem, and don’t be afraid about not knowing the tech speak. My Dad never understands this concept. He always tries to be clever. Let’s say his display always has problems upon playing videos. He searches for “video + display + glitch”. Dude, I type in “screen goes black when I play a video.” Why? because 5,000 other people before me have had this problem, and that is how they worded it when they asked on whatever forum they asked it on. Say it like you would if you were asking a person, don’t get clever, don’t try to winnow it down to it’s basic components.
Another way to search is that if you specifically think a particular program has infected you, go ahead and type that program in and type “virus” or “scam” after it. That’s how I found out how to fix the Windows Recovery Virus… I saw the pop up for Windows Recovery and then all of a sudden my files are disappeared and online doesn’t work anymore and I can’t click on anything. So, I go get my Mac laptop and type in “Windows recovery scam” and get a thousand hits for how to fix that virus.
Once you’ve compared and contrasted people’s problems and how close they are to yours, and peoples answers and how common their “fix” programs are, then settle on one and impliment it. Generally these tech guys know they’re talking to non-computer savvy people and they give it to you step by step.
If they tell you to download a program, make sure it’s recommended in multiple places. Or, come ask me if I’ve heard of it and/or used it. I know Combofix is for real. Spybot S&D. Adaware. Malawarebytes. TrojanKiller. Spywareblaster. Superantispyware. HijackThis.
Also? Generally, if you have to pay for it, it’s probably BS. The ones you pay for tend to “infect you” or give you false positives to scare you into “see how infected you are, you need to upgrade to our pay version!” Example? Spyware Doctor. Most registry cleaners. Stay Away from Pay.
If You Still Don’t Get It
The last ditch effort before wiping your computer, taking it to a place where you pay them, or buying a new one, try resetting it to a time when you know it was working. Sometimes this will work, most of the time this will not. It’s worth trying though.
Here is a basic walk through, but each operating system is different. You may want to type into the search bar “windows xp system restore”, or vista, or 7, or whatever it is that you have.
It’s Probably Shot Dude
If you’ve done all of the above and still it doesn’t operate properly, you probably need to reformat or buy a new computer. In fact, if none of the above worked? You probably have a bad harddrive, so you’ll need to buy a new harddrive, or a new computer. Remember that reformat means wiping your machine absolutely clean. No files, no programs, FACTORY SETTINGS. IE, like it was when you bought it, however long ago that was.
The disk will usually ask if you want to reformat or… another option that I can’t remember the name of but that option lets you keep your files and it resets the rest to factory. So you’ll have to reinstall programs and update all existing ones like real player/quicktime/etc, but you’ll still have your files. If I were you I’d try this before reformating, however it may not work as by not deleting your files you may be keeping whatever it was that screwed you up to begin with and it’ll just start all over again.
And that’s that!
Get the tylenol/liquor/etc out and try try try!