Over half of UK users say speed is their worst gripe about PCs, according to the Virgin group, which today launches a technical support service.

Research by the firm revealed that when it comes to technology problems in the home, PCs are the worst offenders with 46 percent of Brits citing their computer as their biggest bugbear, closely followed by 28 percent who said they had problems getting gadgets to work with each other.

Furthermore 26 percent had an issue with wireless networks, and a quarter found printers to be problematic.

Virgin also said that 78 percent of Brits would rather spend four hours trying to fix a gadget themselves than spend 20 minutes on hold on the phone.

A further 57 percent said being on hold to a customer service department was worse then being stuck in traffic.

With this in mind Virgin has launched Virgin Digital Help - a technical help service for computers and gadgets that combines online and phone support, with downloadable tools and home visits.

Mindful of PC Advisor's many years of experience solving problems for PC users via the Helproom forum, Virgin Digital Help has asked PC Advisor users to beta test the service. Watch out for our expert users' thoughts and experiences in the Beta testing forum. If you wish to take part, email: [email protected].

"Most of us don't know where to turn when our technology breaks down. Often, the frustrations involved in getting something fixed are as much of an issue as the problem itself. We would rather spend hours slogging away trying to fix something on our own than get on the phone with technical support," said Joe Steel, founder of Virgin Digital Help.

"We have launched Virgin Digital Help to get Britain's digital stuff to work. Now you don't have to get mad, you can just get help."

Web users can download a set of automated diagnosis and fixing tools for their PC, known as the Virgin Digital Helper, for free.

The tools include AVG antivirus protection, a computer spring cleaning tool to improve speed and performance and a computer performance health-check/diagnostic tool.

Virgin also offers web users 140 free self-help articles aimed at solving the most common computer-related issues.

For a subscription of £2.99 per month, you can increase the number of self-help articles to 70,000 and also get access to 1,200 video tutorials.

Alternatively £4.99 per month gets you all this plus AVG's full security suite, while for £6.99 per month you can also take advantage of 24/7 phone support.

Virgin Digital Help also offers fixed-price support, starting from £29.99, to fix a number of common problems such as setting up parental controls, virus removal and even smartphone set-up, while anything requiring a home visit is priced at £90 for first hour and then £30 per 30 minutes thereafter.

Users can also purchase bundles of helpline minutes and use them on a PAYG basis as and when they need them.

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See also: ISPs ripping-off customers with technical helplines