Finding support for technology issues is an ongoing challenge. The feature of corporate life I miss the most was the ever-present help desk. With one phone call a tech expert would appear in a few minutes to diagnose – and more importantly – fix –  whatever problem I was having. I miss it greatly.

As caregivers, we often work from home, use hardware and software cobbled together over time and occasionally, face a tech problem that we just can’t fix. This can run the gamut from a new software update, email program not working, synching issues, a hardware cabling/bluetooth/communication issue or ABOM (a big old mess). When that happens, the temptation to scream, throw out the computer and vow to live in a cave as a hermit with no electricity can feel very tempting. There is, however, another way.

There are many resources out there to help get you back on track and feeling in control:

The Manufacturer: Many manufactures of computer hardware or software have a help desk available. Both Microsoft and Apple have physical stores in some locations where you can bring in the device or issue and they will fix it onsite.

Warranties: Often when you purchase new equipment , you have the option to get an extended warranty that includes repairs. Although there is an additional charge upfront, this allows you to rest secure in the knowledge that you will get in-person support. At Apple, it is called AppleCare and includes phone support as well. At Microsoft, here is a good place to start.

Third Party Support: Large electronic stores often have hourly support (for a fee) that you can use for common computer problems – ex. Geek Squad at Best Buy. In some cases, they will come to your home/business as well. In most major cities, there will be hands-on “help desks for hire” that might work for you – like HelloTech or iYogi.

Support Communities: Many local schools or libraries have user groups that are free of charge and are made up of volunteers that can help with set-up and upgrade issues. Check with your local Library and/or University to see if there is one in your area.

Online: The first “call for help” is often to type into Google search “I am having a problem with XXX” There, you will find links to forums, Youtube videos and message boards where others have experienced the same problem. If you are getting an error message on your computer or phone, typing it into a search engine will often provide answers that others have tried that may work for you. A few cautions, don’t download “fixer” software if you don’t know the site and don’t give out your private data to an online forum. That said, most of the tips are from fellow users that have encountered the same problem and can allow you to get up and running sooner.  Some major online resources are Apple Support Communities or Microsoft Community.

As with any advanced technology – there will be issues. They key is to accept them as normal and know were to go to get help when you need it. As the Dalai Lama said “I think technology really increased human ability. But technology cannot produce compassion”. For that, you need others – so I encourage you to create your own help desk team.