Get Help with Computer Problems - dummies

By Corey Sandler

Part of Fix Your Own Computer For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Having trouble with your PC? Computer help comes from many sources: the manufacturer and local computer stores are just two. The Windows Remote Assistant lets a friend or trusted expert control your machine and attempt repairs; remote assistance is available from hardware manufacturers and software companies.

  • Contact the manufacturer. For hardware problems and software that came installed on your computer, the manufacturer is the best place to start. Write down the computer model, serial number, and date of purchase; then check your documentation or the manufacturer’s Web site for contact information. Choose Start→Programs→All Programs and look for a folder named for your computer or manufacturer. Some manufacturers include complete user manuals or even videos to help you learn about your machine and troubleshoot it.

  • Find local experts. Many computer stores and big stores offer in-store repair. Make sure you are clear on the services they will provide and what it will cost before agreeing to service. Ask friends and co-workers for recommendations or references.

  • Use Windows Remote Assistant. Know somebody who might help, but they aren’t nearby? Microsoft includes a useful utility called Remote Assistant in current versions of Windows. (Your machine has to be able to run Windows and connect to the Internet; some antivirus or firewall utilities may interfere with its use.) To use Remote Assistant, follow Microsoft’s instructions.

Windows XP

  1. Choose Start→Help and Support.

  2. In the Ask for Assistance section, click Invite a Friend to Connect to Your Computer with Remote Assistance.

    Windows Remote Assistance opens.

  3. Click Ask Someone to Help You.

  4. Type an e-mail address in the Use E-mail section.

  5. Click Invite This Person.

  6. Type your name in the From field of the next dialog.

  7. In the Message windows, type a message explaining the problem and the reason for this e-mail.

  8. Click Continue.

  9. Type a password and confirm the password at the bottom of the dialog, then click Send Invitation.

    You need to call or e-mail your helper beforehand to arrange the session. Tell your helper the password you chose; it will be necessary to begin the session.

  10. Leave the Remote Assistance window open.

    You’re notified when your helper has logged onto your computer.


  1. Choose Start→Windows Help and Support.

    The Help and Support Window opens.

  2. Locate the Ask Someone section, and click the Windows Remote Assistance link.

    Windows Remote Assistance opens.

  3. Click Invite Someone You Trust To Help You.

  4. Proceed with Step 4 of the Windows XP instructions.

Windows 7

  1. Choose Start→All Programs.

  2. Click Maintenance, then Windows Remote Assistance.

    Windows Remote Assistance opens.

  3. In the first Remote Assistance page, click the link titled Invite Someone You Trust to Help You.

  4. Click Use E-mail to Send an Invitation.

    Your e-mail client opens with an automatically generated message in the body asking for help. After you send the e-mail, a dialog box opens with the password for the helper to log into your machine.