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Advice and support available if you face computer woes

September 27, 2007|By MARIE GILBERT

It's late at night and your computer is acting strange. You try to fix the problem but become concerned you might make the situation worse.

What do you do?

You might call the manufacturer of your operating system or computer or your Internet Service Provider (ISP). But these days, many of the major computer manufacturers and ISPs can't handle the number of trouble calls they receive in a timely manner. Additionally, many of them limit their phone support to weekday business hours. Some even limit your free support to a warranty period or restrict you to a few free calls before they request a service charge.

AARP has a suggestion.

For good free advice and community support, post your computer problem to the AARP Computer Help Message Board. At this social, online forum, there are friendly, experienced people who enjoy solving a wide range of computer-related problems. Many are skillful at giving easy to understand instructions that you can use to navigate menus or Web sites to solve your problem. You might want to read through the list of existing message threads to see if your problem has already been addressed.

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Another free source of help could be a trusted friend or family member who has a knowledge of computers. According to AARP, they don't even have to come to your house if they use a free screen-sharing utility called CrossLoop. Both of you download the free CrossLoop utility onto your computers, then you initiate the session by giving your helper a special CrossLoop password. This allows your friend or relative to take over your computer in real-time and fix it remotely.

By using the phone and the computer simultaneously, you can discuss the problem and see what is happening on your computer.

Once the session is done, use CrossLoop to disconnect your helper. It's important to note that your helper cannot use the password you provided ever again.

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