Computer technicians offer tips to keep your PC running
If you haven't seen it yet, count yourself lucky: that blank blue screen or flashing question mark that indicates your computer has failed. We asked some highly rated computer repair companies for their advice on keeping computers happy and healthy.
Take your computer's warnings seriously. "One of the biggest mistakes I see is when people get error messages at startup, but just ignore it," says Avi Gabbay, owner of PSeeSolutions in Columbus, Ohio.
Back up your data regularly. "That's the most important thing you can do," says Roberta Piket, owner of New York Geek Girls Computer Services in Teaneck, N.J. "The hard drive, with all its moving parts, is the most likely component of your computer to fail."
Use up-to-date security programs to fend off viruses and spyware — but do so sparingly. "People start downloading every spyware and antivirus program they can find, and they make the problem worse," says Tom Lutzi, owner of Computer Troubleshooters of Bethlehem, Pa. "All those programs running at once eat up system resources and before long, your computer won't do anything else."
If you have children, monitor their computer use. "Kids are fearless, and sometimes they'll end up deleting important files without knowing it," says Courtney Scott, based in Fairfax, Va. "Teenagers can go to websites that will download malicious files onto the computer."
Know your limits. If you don't know what you're doing, you can end up doing even more damage. Once you realize you're in over your head, call an expert.