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July 10, 2020

The Basics of Computer Troubleshooting: Quick Tips to Help Yourself When You’re Working From Home

Dale Adamiak, Customer Success Analyst

Technology only seems to fail at the most inopportune times. And now with many of us working from home, you can’t just pop over to the IT helpdesk for support. Here are some quick tips you can try to get you back up and running, and even if they don’t work, it will save time if you do have to call in the experts. This is especially true if you write down the steps you’ve taken and error codes you’ve received before reaching out to them.

“Have you tried turning it off and back on again?”

There’s a reason this “IT crowd” joke has persisted as long as it has, and that’s because it often works! Many of us don’t shut our computers down nearly as often as we should (it should be at least once a week), and therefore things like system caches, waiting updates, and no longer used but still running programs can build up. The act of shutting down your computer solves all of these things and many others. Make sure to use the software option to shut down (so don’t hold the power button), as doing so will ensure that all work is saved, and no other users are logged in. If you see a progress bar on either shutdown or startup, that likely means an update is being applied, so please be patient with it.

“Hoverboards don’t work on water… unless you’ve got power!”

Much like the hoverboards of “Back to the Future part 2,” your computer won’t work unless it has a power source. If you’re on a desktop that refuses to turn on, check to make sure all the cables are plugged in by physically removing them from their plugs (on both ends), and then ensuring the connections are snug. Do the same for your monitor, just in case. If you’re on a laptop, make sure your battery is properly seated by removing it (if possible), and then verify you’re plugged into power and have given the battery enough time to charge. One last tip: if none of these solve your issue, check your surge protector to make sure it hasn’t been tripped.

“Don’t get Eliminated!”

Every issue you have with your computer likely has a wide variety of potential causes. In order to determine the cause, make a single change, test and see if that solves your issue. If not, change it back and then move on to something else. For example, when troubleshooting WiFi, power cycle your router, and see if that fixes it. If not, then power cycle your modem. If you power cycle the modem and router simultaneously you won’t know which step solved the issue. Using this method you eliminate all possibilities without causing unintended changes along the way. You’ll also find the root cause, allowing you to quickly solve the issue the next time it shows up.

Whether you’re working from home, or back in the office, make it a habit to try these simple fixes before asking for help. You’ll not only get back up and running sooner, your IT team will thank you for making their lives easier.