MISSION, KS--(Marketwire - Jan 19, 2012) - (Family Features) Smartphones, laptops, tablets, wireless, broadband or satellite connections -- the amount of technology available to people today is astonishing. And many people embrace it wholeheartedly, some owning 14 or more consumer electronic devices, according to a 2011 survey conducted by Accenture.
But even those "super users" need some technical help now and then. The Accenture survey also found that:

  • One in two consumers (51 percent) turns to family members or friends when they need computer maintenance or support.
  • Taking a computer into a retail or computer-repair store was the least favorite method of maintenance (28 percent).
  • One in two consumers (53 percent) would welcome the opportunity to have one company provide technical support for most or all of their home and mobile consumer electronics devices.

Where to Get Help
With the number of household devices on the rise, there is an increasing need for tech support for those devices. It's not uncommon for PCs and laptops to have to be repaired or replaced within only a few years of purchase.
In terms of help options there are several to consider -- including manufacturer tech support, free do-it-yourself options and third-party help services.

Manufacturer Support
Although many computer manufacturers offer free tech-support programs, most end after one year, or even sooner. Additionally, the tech support staff for the manufacturer is there to provide basic help for manufacturer defects or system failures. It's unlikely that when you unbox that brand new Internet connected HD TV and wireless router the customer service rep for either company will patiently walk you through set up and make sure everything works well before ending the call.

DIY Sources
Check out newsgroups or user forums where you can find other users who have had similar problems to yours, and you can get tips on what to do about it. To find them, simply run a keyword search on your favorite search engine, then subscribe to the newsgroup or join the relevant forum. You will be able to ask questions and another forum member will answer with key tips. From there -- you're on your own.
Free software tools that help diagnose computer problems are also available online, but make sure you download one from a reputable vendor you can trust. Norton PC Checkup (www.nortonlive.com), for example, lets you scan for problems, assess risks, identify performance problems and check for security weaknesses in your wireless network.

Third Party Services
A survey by HDI (formerly known as the Help Desk Institute), found that more people than ever are calling help desks for assistance. The number of incidents reported is rising, with 67 percent of all help desk services increasing in 2010.
There are several circumstances when going to an independent service may be your best bet:

  • When the source of the problem isn't obvious. Most manufacturers only consider the pre-installed hardware and software covered by the original warranty. An independent service, such as NortonLive's Ultimate Help Desk, will evaluate much more than that. It can look at networks, peripheral equipment, applications and software drivers.
  • If a virus or spyware might be the problem. Manufacturer tech support tends to find the source of these problems far less often than independent services do.
  • If you want no-hassle phone service. Calling a remote service often costs less than getting someone to come to your home. And if you're having multiple issues or have multiple devices to deal with, it can be very time consuming and frustrating to try and deal with each device's manufacturer and policies separately. With a service such as NortonLive Ultimate Help Desk, you get broad-based support for virtually any computer and digital device you have, including PCs, Macs, wireless routers, smartphones, printers, MP3 players and digital cameras. And you get that help any time you need it -- not just during regular business hours.
  • If you do choose a third-party service, keep these things in mind:
  • Check their reputation. Before giving anyone remote access to your computer, make sure the service provider is reputable. Read reputation websites and reviews online, and find out whether the company does background checks on technicians sent to your home.
  • Ask about tech certification. Look for technicians with trade certifications to ensure they have the relevant training and expertise required for troubleshooting computer problems.
  • Ask for a guarantee. Some guarantees vary with the type of service purchased. Make sure you understand what you can expect.
  • Protect your warranty. If your device is under warranty be sure that using another service won't nullify it.
  • Get organized. Before you call for help write down key information such as your computer's serial number, basic specs and anything you have installed. Be able to tell the technician what the problem is and when it started.

Tech problems may seem overwhelming at times, but you can get the help you need, protect your investments and make life a little more hassle free.

Survey says: It's overwhelming!
Consumers responding to two separate surveys conducted by Harris Interactive and StrategyOne revealed that they are sometimes overwhelmed by technology.
The October 2011 Strategy One survey showed that:

  • Eleven percent of U.S. households use a combination of PC and Mac based computer systems at home.
  • Both PC and Mac users cited performance degradation and Internet connection problems as the most common issues encountered.

The December 2010 Harris survey revealed that:

  • Sixty-four percent of respondents have experienced problems with their computers, while 56 percent have experienced problems with their digital devices.
  • Thirty-one percent said they usually make things worse when they try to fix things themselves.
  • To find out how to get these types of services, and more, with NortonLive's Ultimate Help Desk, visit www.nortonlive.com.

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