Computers. Sometimes it’s like they have a mind of their own.
Sure, they make life easier than in the good ‘ole days when we used to have to fill out ledger books by hand and cycle home uphill both ways.
Still, the blasted things have a habit of pulling up error messages – or worse, pulling up plain black screens – at the most critical of times, deleting that Word document you forgot to save in the process.
Anyway, for many of us, the automatic instinct is to either instantly call for your local Gen-Y Techmaster (be they an employee, one of your kids or a next-door neighbour) or reach for the phone and call tech support.
That leads to either the experience of a condescending know-it-all 20-something sneering about how it was a simple matter of logging into the hidden “device registry settings database through the command prompt” (as if it were the simplest thing in the world) or sitting on hold for an hour waiting for the next available operator in another continent.
Well, the next time you get to your desk in the morning and find your computer isn’t working, before you make that call, I say it’s time for you to do some basic troubleshooting.
By troubleshooting, I mean systematically going through all the basic things that could be causing the problem.
Computer not turning on?
Is the power plugged into the wall? Is it switched on? Is it plugged into the computer? Is it switched on? Is the screen plugged into the computer? Is the cable to the screen in securely at both ends? Is the screen plugged into the wall and switched on? Is there another computer screen you can try using? If you switch your computer on and off at the wall, does it make any difference?
Internet not working?
Is your modem plugged in? Is it switched on? Are the cables to the wall and to your computer plugged in securely? Have you tried switching it on and off?
App not working?
Does it have the same problem if you try to do the same thing from another computer? If you exit the app and start it up again, does it still have the problem? If you restart your computer, does it still play up?
Even if it doesn’t fix the problem, take note of anything that happens when you troubleshoot too. Does the screen suddenly turn white when you try plugging in the cables? Make a note of it – it will make it easier for your tech support people to fix.
It sounds mundane, but more often than not it’s something really simple that’s causing the problem. So the next time you have some tech troubles (and knowing most computers, it could well be later today) try to do some basic troubleshooting first.
At the very least, you won’t spend an hour waiting to talk to an outsourced call centre only to find out that the plug for your screen had come loose overnight.
Get it done – today!
This article first appeared on February 13, 2013.