Come October of this year, I’ll have owned and operated East Bay Mac Menders for 20 years. Over the years, if a customer wanted help over the phone only, I knew this was going to be difficult. I’m not in front of the computer, I don’t know exactly what the person wants, and I’m nowhere near as good over the phone than if I were seated directly in front of the computer and able to ask and answer questions as they arose.

Enter YouTube (www.youtube.com), arguably the most ubiquitous website on the internet and the teacher I could never be for my clients. Yes, it’s somewhat slathered in advertising. Yes, it can pull you into a rabbit hole of videos that can distract you from whatever you were looking to get done that day, but YouTube also functions as the best possible free teacher and tutor one could ask for.

Here are some of the best guides I’ve found for questions that people asked me about over the years:

Guide to Time Machine Backup on Your Mac: Apple’s Time Machine feature is an absolute lifesaver, and provided you take the time to attach an external USB hard drive to your Mac and set up Time Machine to back up to a removable external hard drive whenever it’s connected to your Mac laptop as needed. I recommend going to YouTube and searching for “how to set up time machine on mac” to get to a series of excellent guides to walk you through the process. I also recommend searching for “Howfinity,” which specializes in creating instructional videos.

Guide to Windows Backup on Your Windows PC: The same backup needs on Mac apply to Windows PCs, and the moment your hard drive fails can be about the worst in the world. This is where Windows Backup comes in handy. If you’re unsure as to how to set this up, go to YouTube and search for “how to set up windows backup” to access a list of tutorial guides. I also recommend searching for “Dave’s Tech Rescue,” which offers a slew of helpful walk-throughs and tutorials presented via a clear, concise, and well-edited presentation.

Guide to Malware Prevention on your Mac: Full Speed Mac & PC has put together a good tutorial that can be found by going to YouTube and entering “How To Remove A Mac Computer Virus, Malware, Spyware, Maintenance, And Cleaning 2020” in the search menu.

Guide to Malware Prevention on your Windows PC: The same logic applies to Windows PCs, and I like Full Speed Mac & PC’s tutorial as to how to remove malware from a Windows machine. As with the Mac tutorial, go to YouTube and enter “How To Remove Computer Virus, Malware, Spyware, Maintenance, And Cleaning 2020” in the search menu, then make sure you’ve opened the tutorial that focuses on Windows PCs.

Mac Basics: If you’re new to the Mac and want to dive in and get the hang of it, the tutorials on YouTube are an amazing place to start. One tutorial I really like is part of a series by GCFLearnFree.org, and can be found by going to YouTube and entering “macOS Basics: Getting Started with the Desktop” into the search menu.

Windows Basics: If you’re new to using a Windows PC, there are plenty of YouTube-based tutorials to help you get underway. One series of videos I like is made by TechGumbo, and can be found by going to YouTube and entering “Windows 10 (Beginners Guide) into the search bar.

Any technology can be intimidating at first, but with time and practice, things invariably become faster, easier, and more convenient. Just remember that YouTube tutorials are there, you can always go back to an earlier point in the video if you’re unsure about a step, you can always bookmark the videos to watch later, and you can always learn at your own pace without interruption.

Chris Barylick is the owner of East Bay Mac Menders (www.eastbaymacmenders.com) as well as a veteran technology writer since October, 2000. His work has appeared in Macworld, PC World, TechRadar, the Washington Post, Playboy, PC Gamer, and an assortment of other publications.

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Chris Barylick is the owner of East Bay Mac Menders.(www.eastbaymacmenders.com) as well as a veteran technology writer since October, 2000. His work has appeared in Macworld, PC World, TechRadar, the Washington Post, Playboy, PC Gamer, and an assortment of other publications.