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[ The PC Guide | Troubleshooting and Repair Guide | Obtaining Technical Support | Other Alternatives for Technical Support ]

Reference Books

One source of troubleshooting information that seems to have fallen out of favor in recent years is the old standby: a good book. Don't underestimate the value of a good troubleshooting reference; they are in many ways the single best way to learn more about PCs. Good reference books provide a depth of information that you are not likely to find in any other medium.

Obtaining and reading a good PC reference book is more of an investment than a quick fix. If you are looking for a snap answer to a particular problem, you aren't generally going to want to shell out $40 for a book and start hunting through it (although many of them actually do have great troubleshooting information in them). Where books excel is at education. Reading through a couple of good reference books on computers will help you become better at solving your own problems and make you less reliant on troubleshooting help obtained from others.

There are two big drawbacks with reference books. The first is cost: they are usually large and they usually have a large price tag on them, around $40 or so (with some much more); the public library is of course another option. The second is probably worse: they are often out of date. It takes time to finish, proofread, publish and distribute a book. By the time it gets on the shelf, and you get over there to buy it, chances are that a new processor or three have been announced, prices have changed, and new technologies have been introduced that change the way computing is done somewhat (or a lot, in fact.)

For this reason, books are best for learning about things that don't change rapidly, and for troubleshooting problems that are common to all PCs. You will be able to use a reference book to learn more about how the PC as a whole works, but probably not to get information about the latest CPU that just came out. They are good overall for troubleshooting since most of the problems that are usually seen on PCs are far from being new.

This section discusses off-line technical references and lists several good books you may be interested in. You can also check out the computer section of your local bookstore or library. Be wary of very old books in libraries. They can sometimes contain information so outdated that they may actually lead you astray in dealing with your system.

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