If you are one of the many folks who work for a company that doesn’t have full-time IT staff on hand to keep your technology running smoothly, you might feel like your options for troubleshooting or resolving tech problems are limited. Depending on the severity of the issue, you may be able to rectify many minor/transient issues with some simple practices that we “experts” use on a regular basis. Obviously these techniques won’t work for things like a crashed hard drive, malware infection, or security breach, but they are useful to know, and can save you time and money.
- Reboot – It may sound clichéd, but more often than not, many of my clients forget about rebooting. Even though Windows 7 and 8 are supposedly designed to work without needing frequent reboots, if your computer is acting sluggish or abnormally, try a reboot to see if the problem goes away.
- Check Task Manager – On any Windows machine, XP and up, hitting Ctrl-Alt-Del and checking out the list of running applications in Task Manager may be an eye-opener. From there, you can see your Memory and CPU usage. If a program seems to be hogging one or the other (or both), try closing that application to see if performance returns to expected levels. Recent versions of Google Chrome are notorious for being memory hogs, and will hold at least one process open for each tab you have open on your computer. If something says “Not Responding” it’s possible the app itself has crashed. “End task” on apps that are not responding may return your computer to temporary usability. Save what data you can and reboot. If CPU and/or Memory usage remains high after a reboot and closing all applications, you might have a malware infection. Skip immediately to #5 or call a professional.
- Check your network connection – so many apps rely on the internet that unpredictable things may happen if your network connection is unreliable. Check your physical Ethernet connections, Wi-fi signal strength, bandwidth speed, etc. If something is wonky with your internet, your computer may manifest that problem in unexpected ways. If bandwidth seems unusually slow and you aren’t the only one using it, someone else on the network may be hogging it up, either intentionally (Game of Thrones stream?) or unintentionally due to a malware infection.
- Reboot your router or access point – depending on who’s impacted, and whether you are feeling confident on which thing is the router, AP or switch, cycling the power on your core infrastructure may clear up a lot of strange behavior. That’s right, even your home office has a “core infrastructure”! Just make sure you warn everyone affected (officemates, employees, family, etc.) that you are taking the “reboot mantra” to the next level. Not sure which one is which? Make a call to your ISP help desk or your local, friendly technician at C2 for some guidance.
- Run a malware scan -assuming you are not a managed services client of C2 (we take care of this part for you!), fire up your anti-malware software and run a full scan. Didn’t find anything? Get a second opinion and run Malwarebytes. Want a third opinion? Try herdProtect. Not sure if you have anti-malware software installed? Might be a good time to call us for a checkup.
Many garden-variety Windows issues can usually be nipped in the bud with the above 5 practices. Practicing safe-computing will keep you out of harm’s way for everything else. As always, avoid attachments, don’t click strange links or popups and practice constant vigilance to keep your data safe!