Get help without leaving your home

The ever-changing world of computers and technology tends to overwhelm many of us.

When your computer starts acting up or stops working, we have limited sources to turn to. Most of us end up packing up the CPU tower and carting it off to the nearest PC repair technician or company.

That’s great for all of us, except that the computer is a spider’s web to unravel before you can cart if off, and then you have to put all those wires back in the right place. The best thing you can do is label them, and the ports they plug into, but most of us don’t bother to do that, just as we overlook backing up our data.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have your PC repaired without taking it to the shop?

In many cases this is possible, and what’s more, it can happen free of charge in most cases. That someone can control your PC, diagnose its problem and fix via the Internet, that is called remote support.

Keep in mind, of course, that not all problems can be fixed this way. Your PC first has to be functional enough to be connected to the Internet, or phone line, and you have to be online. Now, there are some products that allow direct connection to your PC from a phone line without being on the Internet.

There are a number of products on the market that allow remote support. Most of them are available for a moderate fee, such as GoToMyPC
, Net Support Manager, Remote Admin. You must have messenger installed for this to work, though.

There are also some great free alternatives like RealVNC. MSN Messenger also includes a free remote support client, and Windows XP includes a utility called Remote Assistance. To use these features, you have to prepare your PC for the incoming connection, and allow a particular person permission to access it.

First off, disable the Windows XP firewall (temporarily), or your 3rd party firewall if you are using one, and if you have a router, you will need to allow that incoming connection. For instructions on configuring your router for Remote Support, you can use the handy guides at

Windows firewall can be configured so you can either disable it completely, or to allow certain exceptions. Open Control Panel, then the Firewall icon. Here you can disable the firewall completely, or select the specific applications to allow access. By clicking the Exceptions tab, you can add remote assistance to the list of allowed applications.

You will also need to set remote permissions on your PC. You’ll find it in the Control Panel, in the System icon. Locate the tab called Remote and add a check mark for the option to – Allow Remote Assistance Invitations to be sent from this computer.

This will allow you to ask someone for help. This can be someone you trust, maybe someone on MSN Messenger, or someone in your e-mail address book. They will receive your request for help, and can reply to the invitation. They should also have Windows XP and MSN Messenger installed to be able to assist with minimal configuration and compatibility surprises.

Once they have accepted the invitation, you will have to approve the level of support they can give you. You can watch them move your mouse and interact with your PC, you can both operate the mouse and keyboard, or they can have exclusive control over your PC, including the ability to install and remove drivers and applications.

This is a great feature to repair those little annoyances, or minor problems.