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[ The PC Guide | Troubleshooting and Repair Guide | Obtaining Technical Support | Calling For Technical Support ]

Information to Have Available Before Calling

You may end up spending a fair bit of time on the phone before you actually get the opportunity to speak to someone when you call for technical support. Once you get someone on the line, your objective and that of the person taking the call is usually pretty much the same: get the problem resolved and get off the phone. (The problem is when you end up with a technical support person who wants to skip the first part and just get to getting off the phone.)

The best way to ensure that your technical support session goes smoothly and quickly is to have all the information that you will need for the session available for the technical support person before they get on the line. Doing your homework in advance is important, especially if you are paying for the call.

The type of information you will be asked for depends to some extent on what sort of company you are calling, and what kind of problem you are having with your PC. Obviously if your problem is a flaky hard disk, you're much more likely to be asked about your hard disk interface and other storage devices than about your mouse or sound card. The following items are however general information that will be of use in most cases:

  • Hardware Configuration: You should be sure that you know the basic hardware that is in your PC. If it is a branded PC, the brand and serial number. If possible, it is good to know specifically the motherboard type and version number, processor type and speed, amount of level 2 cache, amount and speed of memory, number and size of hard disks and other storage devices, and the video card type and amount of video memory.
  • Software Configuration: Find out the version number of your operating system. Print out your CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT files. Make sure you have a handle on what software is installed in the system.
  • Current System Status: Examine each of your hard disks to see how much free space they have. Find out what software is being loaded when Windows starts up. Look up the version numbers of the key drivers you are using for your video card and other devices. Think back to the last time the system was scanned for viruses, scanned for file system errors, and backed up.
  • System Resources: It is helpful to many technical support efforts if you can identify all the devices in the system and what resources they are using. (The exercise of compiling the list may help you find the problem at any rate, since it may expose a resource conflict.)
  • Specific Information: Augment the list with information that is relevant to the particular problem at hand. For example, for a modem problem you might be asked what kind of communications software you are using and what initialization string you are sending to the modem before dialing. For a specific software application problem, you will want to know the version number of the software, what directory it is installed in, etc.

Next: Pre-Call Preparation

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