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Office Gurus and Your Best Friend Why you should beware of self-professed computer experts

By Linda Plater |

So you got a good friend, someone you really trust and boy does he know lots about computers! He has been tinkering around with those machines since before he needed to shave. Cool! Great to have a computer guru in your midst, right?

Wait a minute! He knows more than you, but face it, bury your ego, and admit you really don't know much about technology. Even your neighbour's twelve-year-old looks pretty computer-savvy.

If your guru is a professional technical support person for the software you use, then he probably can help you. If not, chances are the person who is troubleshooting your machine is taking away time from his regular job function to help you.

Technical support coming from an underqualified person can worsen problems, because the untrained may not understand the problem source and could manipulate data resulting in a conflict with your entire system. By talking to your vendor, assuming they know their stuff, you can double check a solution's validity before you go ahead and let someone blow up your machine!

Can you afford to take shortcuts in system support, shortcuts that could cost you big-time? Or, would you be better off coughing up a few bucks to get a computer repair done right?

It is up to you. Think hard before you make the decision to get your so-called guru to tinker with your computer. For many, this machine represents life in digital form. For devout end-users, losing data means virtual death. Think about it: would you allow your gardener to do brain surgery?

10 tips on how to decide who to trust with your computer:

  1. If a support person is recommended by colleague, you are ahead of the game. If not, ask for references. If they have no references, run!

  2. Find out where they got their computer knowledge. If they learned about software from magazines or their own trial and error experiences, their skill level is probably not high enough to solve your problem, depending on its complexity.

  3. If they work in programming, watch out! If they work in technical support and have certification, most likely you can trust these gurus to solve your computer woes.

  4. If taking your machine into a shop, find out how many people work in their service department and details about their qualifications.

  5. Find out what type of services they offer and how long they have been in business. Listen for buzz words like network installation, internet access, product quality and support.

  6. Find out what kind of components they put into their machines.

  7. Determine how long, on average it would take to repair a typical problem on a machine like yours.

  8. Find out what the upgrades cost and how far your machine can it go before you need additional components or a new machine altogether.

  9. Discover if there is anything else that you might need to make your computer a truly great system.

  10. Don't use price as your deciding factor because in the long run, it could cost you much more than anticipated.

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