If you don't have a tech wiz in your family, Consumer Reports can help. Its national research center surveyed owners of 10-thousand computers about their experience with tech support.
Rosalind Tordesillas, Consumer Reports, says "Our survey found the worst ways to get tech support were from their manufacturers' web sites and e-mail support."
Tech support in general wasn't very helpful. "In our survey, manufacturer's tech support solved the problem only about 60 percent of the time," says Tordesillas.
Compaq and HP's tech support was generally worse. The best by far was from Apple, although it's only free for 90 days. For laptops, Lenovo's tech support was also quite good. And worth noting, "With most companies, you can pay extra for "premium" plans that extend both tech support and the repair warranty. But we found they're usually not worth it," says Tordesillas.
However, the survey did find an exception to this. With Dell and Gateway, the premium priority service was a lot better than their regular tech support. That said, requests for help won't slow down anytime soon for this tech-savvy teen.
If you have a MAC, check out the tech support in Apple stores, available free for Apple computers whether they're in warranty or not. Consumer Reports' survey shows that MAC's help in its stores has been excellent, solving problems 90 percent of the time.