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Being tech support for older relatives

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#1 Jen526


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Posted 09 October 2017 - 05:35 PM

I had another (yet another) round of virus scares with my mom this evening, and I thought I'd pop in here to see if anyone has any suggestions or things that worked for them in helping older relatives deal with the scary world of computers.


My mom is the most technophobe person I can imagine.  She uses the computer for only a handful of things - posting on Facebook, playing Words with Friends with *her* mother on Facebook, organizing photo albums on Snapfish, and answering emails.  An occasional google search when she's feeling daring.   Despite years of doing these activities fairly regularly, she still has *no* concept of how file storage works (I tell her to go to her "C:" drive and get a blank stare, and the multiple layouts you might get when browsing for a file in different places within Windows is an unending headache for me.


So, I get a lot of "this random window popped up" calls and trying to talk her through figuring out if it's a serious malware threat vs. some stupid ad-designed-to-look-like-malware is always an exercise in frustration for me and her asking me over and over "Who can I call so I don't bother you?" and me having to reassure her that my frustration is at my own inability to help more easily and not at her for calling. 


So, my question:  I'm not any huge tech expert myself, so my ability to help her with this sort of thing over the phone is always limited when I can't see the screen.  Looking for suggestions on how to deal with this sort of scenario when the person on the other end of the line is functionally illiterate on computers.  I've thought about trying to set her up with something that would let me remote into her computer, but am not sure what the cleanest way to do that would be without too much overhead or necessary action from her  (most of the time, she's freaked out because it seems like the computer is "locked").   Any suggestions on ways to make this process easier would be greatly appreciated.

Edited by Orange Blossom, 09 October 2017 - 06:35 PM.
Moved to General Security. ~ OB

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#2 britechguy


    Been there, done that, got the T-shirt

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Posted 09 October 2017 - 05:56 PM

The one thing I'd definitely recommend, given what you've offered, is that you create an account on that computer for yourself with administrator privileges and then use it to remove administrator privileges from your Mom's account (and any others that might be on that machine where the user of said account falls into the same broad "tech illiterate" category as your Mom).


For yourself, if you have two computers handy, I'd start practicing with Windows Remote Assistance so that you not only see what it's like to remote in using it but also know how to walk your Mom through issuing you an invitation (make a set of step-by-step instructions you can read off to her so that you know you don't skip any steps) if it becomes necessary.  Of course, if a machine is actually frozen then it's frozen and the usual "fix" for that is the hard shutdown done by holding the power button in until the power is cut.


The fact of the matter is that most infections whether from viruses, adware, or malware of any sort do not "sneak on" to a computer but are directly invited in by user action (and very often involve having to install something - which a standard account cannot do - thus heading off a lot of issues).  It is clear that your Mom is doing the fairly typical panic clicking on buttons and links when things pop up (and is probably denying having done so afterward or just gets so flustered she actually doesn't remember exactly what she's done).


The fewer permissions someone who fits the "techphobic" label has to make changes to the machine(s) they use the better.  They can do what they actually want to do while many unintended results are headed off because they cannot install software or make system-wide changes to the machine.

Brian  AKA  Bri the Tech Guy (website in my user profile) - Windows 10 Home, 64-Bit, Version 1809, Build 17763 

     Presenting the willfully ignorant with facts is the very definition of casting pearls before swine.

             ~ Brian Vogel






#3 ozzynotwood


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Posted 12 October 2017 - 12:49 AM

I know exactly what you're talking about, I've been in the situation for years.


Remote desktops

Install "Teamviewer" on both computers (you the hired gun, her the destroyer of tech). Make sure you both have team viewer accounts, this is optional in TeamViewer but it will mean you will be able to add your mum to your TeamViewer friends list and her desktop will be your's in a double-click. Your mum's Teamviewer will need to be set to "unattended access".


Level up your tech game

So, I get a lot of "this random window popped up" calls. If you're going around in circles it's time to start learning together, you'll hear all the excuses to try and get out of learning a new skill, don't take that bleep. End the cycle.


Slight post hijack but I have to ask......

Are those photos part of a regular backup? Casual user, virus scares, doesn't understand storage........see where I'm going with this? LOL


Since you've asked about remote assistance with knowledge of file storage and malware I get the impression you'll be ok with getting this to work out. Just don't add more people to your TeamViewer account, your phone will never stop ringing LOL

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