What do you do when a virus infects your computer, your printer stops printing, your favorite word processor crashes unexpectedly, or strange error messages display on your screen at startup? You might think that only the "techies" in the school IT department are capable of a tech fix feat. Heck no. Anyone can maintain, upgrade, and expand a computer with a bit of basic know-how. For the best tech support Web sites, visit:
- .Net Passport Newsletters Windows and Macintosh. Get Microsoft technical news about security issues, software fixes, and product enhancements via electronic newsletter sent right to your inbox by filling out your profile and subscribing to .Net Passport.
- Apple Service & Support (opens in new tab) Macintosh. If you can't figure out what to do when an Apple product doesn't perform as intended, go to the Apple Support site. You can also get the latest support news and information from Apple via e-mail by subscribing to Apple's free Daily or Weekly Support Updates (opens in new tab).
- Intel Chipset Identification Utility Windows. If you think the CPU installed on your computer motherboard runs slower than the processor you supposedly purchased, or you need to identify the installed Intel processor (e.g., Celeron, Pentium III, or Pentium 4) so you can determine compatible upgrades and drivers, download and run Intel's free Chipset Identification Utility.
- HouseCall (opens in new tab) Windows. So you think your computer has snagged a virus? Get immediate protection and peace of mind by using Trend Micro's free online virus scan. This tool will scan your system, list the viruses and infected files it finds by name, and allow you to "clean" your system to make it virus-free. A free 30-day trial version of PC-cillin (Trend Micro's antivirus solution) is also available for download.
- LangaList Standard Edition Windows. Produced by tech guru and noted author Fred Langa, this Web site is a tech treasure trove of Windows operating system and application tips, tricks, tweaks, and fixes.
- MacFixIt Macintosh. Visit MacFixIt to search for fixes, workarounds, and troubleshooting advice for just about every Mac problem. MacFixIt is staffed by a host of savvy Macaholics who can provide timely solutions to quirky OS X and OS 9 problems, software glitches, and hardware anomalies. To access and search MacFixIt archives you'll need to subscribe to MacFixIt Pro ($24.95 per year).
- Apple Specification Database (opens in new tab) Macintosh. Curious about how much RAM your Macintosh supports? Want to know if your computer will work with a particular OS upgrade? The Apple Spec Database has specifications for Apple products from 1997 to present, and also has a link for finding information on older products.
- Startup Applications List Windows. Compiled by Paul Collins in the UK, the list provides a gold mine of useful tips for dealing with problematic startup issues.
Carol S. Holzberg, Ph.D., is an anthropologist, educational technology specialist, and computer journalist in Massachusetts.