42. TECH SUPPORT: Before you call tech support, follow these 9 steps.

1. Check your cable connections, make sure they are seated properly.

2. Reboot your PC and see if the problem goes away.

3. Use your PC's diagnostics, such as Scan Disk and Defrag.

4. Record what you were doing when it occurred, and record the error message.

5. SYSTEM RESTORE: Go to Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools, and Click on System Restore. Click on Restore my computer to an earlier time, click on Next and the Restore Points will appear on the calendar in BOLD numbers. Click one of the BOLD dates and click on Next.

Using a Restore Point will not cause you to lose recent work, such as saved documents, email, etc.

6. Know your system's model name and number and the serial number.

7. Keep a record of hardware or software changes you've made such as settings, drivers or system configurations.

Update the drivers. If you're having a hardware problem, check the manufacturer's Web site for an updated driver. Conversely, if you've recently updated, try rolling back the driverógo through the Control Panel's Device Manager, find the device, and double-click for the driver dialog. Video card drivers in particular can cause problems that seem totally unrelated to video.

8. Go to the Vendors Web site, you may find a diagnostic tool, or a FAQ (frequently asked questions).

9. Avoid peak times, have your system up and running when you call the technician, and if you may have caused the problem, admit it.

Back up. Yes, it's advisable in any situation. This won't help fix your problem, but you'll want to have a backup of all your important data before getting down and dirty with tech support.

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