LiveRepair.com Supports Small Businesses

Thursday May 22nd 2003 by Patricia Fusco
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When help files aren't very helpful or manufacturers' technical support services fall short of your expectations, consider turning to an alternative to phone support, read-me files and user groups — consider LiveRepair.com when you need to fix a PC problem anytime, anywhere.

LiveRepair.com is a privately owned PC support company nestled in a suburb of New York. The company was founded in November 1999 to provide computer users with online repair and support services regardless of location or computer proficiency level. Originally offered for individual use, LiveRepair.com has burgeoned to support home-office and small-office PC users, as well as big businesses. The company even offers branded services, which provide turnkey PC support systems for other businesses, such as Symantec.

Home-office PC users can choose to subscribe to four different service plans — a one-month subscription for $12, three-moth subscription for $30, six-month subscription for $55 or an annual subscription for $99. All pricing is on a per PC basis. For business customers, pricing starts at $160 per PC per year. But at smaller offices, one subscription could take care of a lot of questions. LiveRepair.com services includes:

  • Help Desk: Experts are available around-the-clock to answer questions and resolve computer problems.

  • WebI Client Tool: LiveRepair.com's proprietary software that enables screen-sharing technology to automatically diagnose problems and facilitate remote access repairs.

  • Internet Connection Troubleshooter: Helps uses restore failed dial-up connections to their Internet service provider.

  • Encyclopedia: An online library for novice users to expand their computer knowledge and skills.

LiveRepair.com also has two additional services currently undergoing beta testing — Emergency Disk and Express Backup. The Emergency Disk service allows users to connect to the Internet and contact LiveRepair.com's Help Desk even if Windows won't load on the PC. LiveRepair.com's Express Backup service is the newest addition to its Beta-stage technologies. The program allows users to backup and restore important personal data in Outlook Express such as address book details, e-mail settings and messages.

LiveRepair.com supports a wide range of Microsoft-based programs and applications including Outlook and Outlook Express, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, FrontPage, Publisher and Visio. In order to take advantage of the service you'll need to be running Windows 95 or 98, Windows NT 4.0 with Service pack 4 or higher, Windows 2000 or Windows XP and your Web browser will need to be Internet Explorer 4.0 or higher.

If you use Netscape Navigator 4.08 or Netscape Communicator 6.0 you might experience problems accessing the service. Since LiveRepair.com is a Web-based service you'll need to be connected to the Internet to use its remote diagnostic capabilities. The minimum speed required for downloads and help desk chat sessions is 14.4 kbps, but the online diagnostics program requires a 56.6 kbps connection.

We took a first-hand tour of LiveRepair.com's services. Upon entering our license key at the assigned Web destination, we were thanked for subscribing to the service and informed that our application has been successfully processed. As a customer, we were now free to use any PC support services and download tools, like LiveRepair.com's TekLink troubleshooting software.

Screen sharing is a necessary evil that allows LiveRepair.com's experts to see a computer screen remotely over the Internet and share its mouse and keyboard. This way the support expert can apply a solution to the problem without going into lengthy explanations as to how to fix it. LiveRepair.com cannot launch the screen-sharing program until explicit permission is granted. LiveRepair.com insists that there is no way support experts can use the screen-sharing system to obtain confidential or sensitive information stored on the computer or a network. Besides, users can always stop a screen-sharing session simply by pressing the Ctrl + Break key combination.

Our first question for LiveRepair.com staff was how to delete screen-sharing program once our tour was completed. Our question was tagged with a message identification number for tracking purposes. Once our question had been reviewed, we were quickly introduced to our expert, who provided us with straightforward instructions about how to remove the TekLink program — the entire Web conversation took about three minutes.

Our second test proved a bit cheekier since we would have had to disable our firewall for TekLink to look into our computer and help create a shortcut to an illusive instant messaging application. LiveRepair.com's technicians provided friendly, concise guidance. Even though we abandoned the TekLink program rather than disable our firewall, the instructions that were provided were once again straightforward and downright helpful.

LiveRepair.com's service is solid. But why pay for technical support? Most vendors and manufacturers offer technical advice for free — at least for a limited amount of time after initially purchasing the hardware or software. Then there are chat rooms and discussion groups always at the ready to help sort out other computing issues after the service terms expire. There are also other service and technical support providers that serve small- and mid-sized businesses, such as Ask Dr. Tech, Tech24 and Speak with a Geek.

The fact that LiveRepair.com does not provide on-site or phone support services means that it is not designed to compete with support services provided direct from manufacturers. For LiveRepair.com, it's all about productivity — subscribers can get the help they need immediately.

LiveRepair.com would be a good pick for small businesses that don't have the staffing, skill set or time to train employees about the ins and outs of routine PC maintenance. Subscribers can expect to receive advice and instructions on the installation and configuration of new hardware or software, as well as performance optimization recommendations and updates on upgrades.

It's also helpful when an employee or two need additional guidance using Microsoft-based applications. Why take an employee out of the office and send them to a training course when you can improve an employee's proficiency in specific back office applications without ever leaving the office?

LiveRepair.com's greatest strength is that its experts can help solve PC problems online using a combination of tools and services designed specifically for these purposes. Consequently, individuals working in remote or home-office would benefit the most from subscribing to LiveRepair.com services. If nothing else, LiveRepair.com provides peace-of-mind — help is just a mouse-click away anytime — day or night.

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!
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