Best Free Technical Support Sites

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Introduction

When compiling this list I only looked at free third-party support sites.  If you are looking specifically for vendor support sites, then click here. You might also try looking for the vendor site on Facebook.

Most of the sites in this category have volunteer staffing and that means the quality of answers to your questions can very widely - it all depends on the individual you get. So don't take the following site rankings too literally as your experience may well differ from mine.

This is a revision of an article by Gizmo and retains much of his material - v.laurie

Discussion of Top-Rated Sites

Tech Support Guy
This site offers free help for users of Microsoft Windows  and Linux.  This is a volunteer run site with a very active forum area covering a good range of subject areas. You can also search past forum messages, which can be a little slow but  may still be the quickest way to get the answer to your problems.

The site layout has been recently revamped and this has greatly improved usability. On the down-side advertising is now more prominent, though not yet intrusive.

When we tested the service, we got the answer to one of our questions immediately by searching the past forum database. Our  two remaining questions were posed on the live forums in the appropriate categories and got answers to both, very promptly indeed. Impressive. 

5-Star Support
This free site offers a variety of tech support services.  First there is an excellent on-line FAQ which provides quick answers to many common problems. Second, they offer some excellent technical guides which cover a wide range of topics from installing a network card to cleaning your mouse. Finally there is an web form where you can pose a specific problem and receive the answer by email.

We got the answer to one of our questions from the FAQ. The other two trickier questions we posed by filling in the web form. We immediately received an email saying that our questions had been sent to all the volunteers and we might receive an answer from more than one volunteer.

That's exactly what happened, we got two responses to each question from different individuals. Quickly too, all responses came within 12 hours. The solutions posed were both sound and logical but didn't solve the problems. We then replied to the emails and asked for other solutions. After a couple of emails the volunteers came up with perfectly acceptable solutions though not necessarily the most technically insightful.

This service is free though donations for successful solutions are suggested. Overall an impressive service particularly for more straightforward problems.

Protonic
This is an online community that provides free computer technical support for Windows, Mac, and Unix by email. The site is exceptionally well laid out and easily navigated. All you need do is , register for free then pose your question. The answer will be emailed to you very promptly.

Since last reviewed the site has gone from strength to strength. The already excellent layout has been improved further and response time to our questions was very speedy indeed. 

Clean, straightforward and effective. I liked it!

Other recommended sites

AskMeHelpDesk is a Web site that pairs experts and novices to answer and ask questions. There are hundreds of topics, including many computer-related ones. The computer sections are quite active and I got answers to our test questions within a few hours.  Take the strain off your help desk and get your users to check out this excellent free resource.

Techie 7 (formerly D-A-L Computer Help) This a forum based Windows help service. It's quite active with responses to questions often posted within a few hours. The "Spyware, Adware, Viruses and HijackThis Logs" section is particularly active and the answers posted both helpful and sound. The "Hand Held" and "Web Design" sections are currently a bit thin but that does not distract from the overall excellence of this free site for general Windows support. Registration is required to post a question but this is a simple and speedy procedure.  Well worth trying.

Help.com is a free tech support service from CNet.  There are plenty of online resources to help you, drawn from a variety of sources.  Some of these are on the help.com site, some are elsewhere. Included in the latter is a question and answer service that links to gives you an easy interface for the Usenet support newsgroups, although to use this service you must register.

Suggest A Fix   This is a free forum where users can post problems in the hope that another forum member can help. The available forums cover operating systems, general computing, the Internet and security with many subdivisions under each category.

The forums are not the busiest we've seen but almost all questions attract good quality answers. Our 3 test questions were answered very promptly indeed the solutions provided and were of high quality.

Like many other forums, a few dedicated individuals seem to provide the bulk of the answers so you might find the quality of the answers varying day to day according to who's available. This reservation notwithstanding, we couldn't fault the service we received.

About Guide on PC Support Here you'll find an excellent portal site for all PC support issues.  The information presented is thorough and comprehensive. They have a forum area where, after registration, you can post messages to other users free of charge. It's not a particularly active forum, with only a dozen or so messages a day, so you may have to wait a while for a response. We did however, get answers to our problems and the correct answers at that.

Virtual Dr This site forms just part of the huge Internet.com group of sites. They offer a pretty good set of online resources plus a well-used forum area where you can pose questions to fellow users. Registration is required but is free.

Computing.net Not tested by this editor but recommended by another editor

Bleeping Computer Not tested by this editor but recommended by another editor

Quick Selection Guide

Tech Support Guy
4.5
 
Gizmo's Freeware award as the best product in its class!

Is a web service or web application
Very active forum area covering a good range of subject areas. Quick answers to test questions Revamped site layout has greatly improved usability
Advertising somewhat prominent but not yet obtrusive
http://www.techguy.org/
Windows, Linux
5-Star Support
4
 
Is a web service or web application
Excellent on-line FAQ which provides quick answers to many common problem. Offers some excellent technical guides which cover a wide range of topics.
Answers, while correct, not always the techncal best
http://www.5starsupport.com/
Windows, Linux
Protonic
4
 
Is a web service or web application
The site is exceptionally well laid out and easily navigated.
Answers by email
http://www.protonic.com/
Windows, Mac, Unix

 
Editor

This category is maintained by volunteer editor Vic Laurie. Registered members can contact the editor with any comments or suggestions they might have by clicking here.

 
Tags

Best online computer help, assistance, support, PC, Windows

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Comments

by walsh258 on 19. October 2014 - 15:15  (119254)

I run windows vista on a PC with a common access card reader to access a government email account when I am traveling. It normally works. However, I am never able to view any encrypted emails. I know that I need to download SMIME but I have not been able to do so successfully. Do you have any recommendations?

by skykrane101 on 16. July 2014 - 19:12  (117375)

My Macbook Pro has recently started to slow down and the colorful wheel comes on and tho can take forever to get back on track. I always thought that MAC had more complicated software so there were minimal viruses out there to get. Does anybody know how to fix this or even if there is a fix?

Mike

by v.laurie on 16. July 2014 - 19:18  (117377)

We are unable to respond to individual support requests here. Please post details of your query in our forum:
http://www.techsupportalert.com/freeware-forum/general-computer-support/

by not recognized on 16. April 2014 - 6:39  (115731)

good luck getting a response on 5 star support

http://tinypic.com/r/2cnh1k2/8

by not recognized on 12. April 2014 - 5:34  (115644)

I have often found major geeks come up on searches. Just wondering why it isn't mentioned in this review. Is it no longer a major player [or was it never one in the first place], or have they gone downhill in some way?

by Anupam on 12. April 2014 - 7:47  (115645)

MajorGeeks is mainly a software download site, not a technical support site.

by not recognized on 16. April 2014 - 6:26  (115732)

Last I looked, they had a very busy forum on malware amelioration and prevention

by gggirlgeek on 12. April 2014 - 4:46  (115639)

Did you test [url=http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/] Tom's Hardware? [/url]

That's where I get all my hardware advice, particularly for motherboards, PSU's, and HDD/SDD's. They don't answer software questions very swiftly if at all. It' mainly a builder's forum, I'd say. I got excellent advice on parts for my new (cheap!) build and it has run without hitch for 2 years now.

BTW, does BBcode work here? About to find out the hard way. :-)

by v.laurie on 12. April 2014 - 11:19  (115648)

Tom's Hardware is a well known site but, as you indicate, it is hardware oriented so not really in the same category as those reviewed here.

by gggirlgeek on 12. April 2014 - 4:47  (115640)

Guess not. Any other tips on links?

by toonpig on 25. March 2014 - 16:13  (115275)

This list of help sites is a fantastic thing for someone like me who is not that savvy about computers. I had several questions I needed answered Tech support guy were very good and solved all my little problems . Again thanks so much for the list of sites

by mohammedameersadiq on 6. March 2014 - 15:13  (114838)

can anyone plz describe what is gateway in networks and types of gateways?
and also about data linkage prevention. ?

by v.laurie on 6. March 2014 - 15:24  (114839)

We are unable to respond to individual support requests here. Please post details of your query in our forum:
http://www.techsupportalert.com/freeware-forum/general-computer-support/

by judyalert on 23. January 2014 - 6:38  (113913)

speaking from lots of experience with such sites, unfortunately (as with so many other things in life) nothing is the quality it used to be when the world was:
"young & gay".

Now many of the original enthusiasts are:
"old & gray" - and world wary

so accordingly, the support venues which used to provide crystal-clear answers, have now degenerated to the Nth degree.

The best litmus test (if you have time) is to search for some common problems which keep cropping up in Windows. Then print the threads from the early 2000's and compare them side by side with the same topics asked in the current decade.

If you analyze them, you'll realize how abysmally the quality of answers have taken a downhill slide.
And no, I don't just mean grammar.
I'm talking about leading people down the wrong path, even for the simplest situations, let alone the majority of those which require a detective to solve.

Basically, it's as if tiny kids are mostly at the helm on some of these forums, with just a sprinkling of mature people, who might actually HELP (if you'd only have the luck to get them) rather than giving lectures about double postings (which you sometimes resort to when you realize you're stuck with the usual imbeciles instead of real guidance). Then most of your psyche is wrung-dry trying to wring out diplomatic courteous explanations - when you really feel like crying & shouting in frustration at their worsening your situation instead of improving it.

I can't begin to say how many times the above scenario has happened to me over the last decade, and snowballing over the latter 1/2 of the decade.

P.S. the same backsliding happened with free hosts (such as freewebs) and with free email (such as gmail & yahoomail). They all used to have clean, basic, EZ interfaces which were glitch-free. Then free-hosts became too slow & needlessly-sophisticated, imposing banners & popups ad nauseum. And free gmail/yahoomail deteriorated their interfaces, and proceeded screwing in the screws, with diabolical privacy invasions. As one guy has posted, Google is now officially GoogEVIL.

by imstealth9 on 16. October 2013 - 23:57  (111530)

My laptop seems to freeze when I log onto sites that I never been on before? I've been having to control-alt-delete to get out.
Also I keep getting a pop up on the bottom right of my laptop asking me to upload a new file now or later. I cannot locate the pop up on the computer to get rid of it.

by v.laurie on 17. October 2013 - 2:05  (111533)

We are unable to respond to individual support requests here. Please post details of your query in our forum:
http://www.techsupportalert.com/freeware-forum/general-computer-support/

by 1stteamidc on 4. October 2013 - 3:45  (111226)

I have been having difficulties with my wireless card. It has stopped showing available networks. I have checked the router to make sure it is broadcasting the SSID and it is. Diagnostics and control panel do not show any errors or conflicts. I am forced to use connect a cat 5 cable from my router to get on the internet. I am looking for suggestions in order to connect to my internet at home and in public via wireless.

by Anupam on 4. October 2013 - 7:35  (111229)

We are unable to respond to individual support requests here. Please post details of your query in our forum.

http://www.techsupportalert.com/freeware-forum/general-computer-support/

by David Duncan on 3. March 2013 - 21:58  (105914)

The article was indeed very helpful and with the exception of the last line in the second paragraph in the review of 5 Star Support, where you stated "Receive more an answer from more than one volunteer," But apparently ment to say "Recieve answers from more than one volunteer," it was quite well written. Thank you!

by v.laurie on 4. March 2013 - 0:56  (105918)

Glad the article was helpful. Thanks for pointing out the typo. The good writing comes from Gizmo's original article.

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