If you have a problem with a certain piece of hardware, like a hard drive, a modem or some other peripheral device, one of the best places to look *first* is the web site of the manufacturer and/or the distributor. Many hardware manufacturers and the distributors of their products do maintain a Help or Tech Support segment online for their various products. Those can be virtual gold mines of solutions to known problems. The documentation that came with your computer or individual piece of hardware will usually include some form of directions to such Help sites online as well as phone numbers and regular mail addresses that you can use to contact Support personnel. If you cannot find such documentation, you can use any good Web search engine to locate the necessary web sites. One that has a rather unique interface is http://dir.yahoo.com/Computers_and_Internet/Hardware/ -- just choose whether you're looking for a personal computer or some other goodie and follow the links.
If you are having problems with software, again, search under the name of the company or the name of its product. Try a Yahoo search under http://dir.yahoo.com/Computers_and_Internet/Software/ for starters. For example, search for the Microsoft site and then search for Word if you need a patch or an upgrade for MS-Word software.
If you're looking for freeware or shareware, there are a few places to look through. One of the best places to look for Winsock stuff is http://www.tucows.com/ . Another good place to look for Winsock/PC software is http://cws.internet.com/ . If you are using a Macintosh, the best site out there is definitely http://www.macorchard.com/ . As with anything else that one might search for online, any good Web search engine will be helpful. Just enter the product name or do a general search for "shareware" or "freeware". Finally, C|net sponsors two different sites with LOTS of shareware goodies at http://shareware.cnet.com/ and http://download.cnet.com/.
If you're looking for more discussion of problems and tricks, the (news:comp.answers) comp.answers newsgroup is for you. You can also find comp FAQs at ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/pub/usenet/comp.answers/ or in specific comp.* newsgroups.
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Last Updated: Sunday, October 29, 2000