Let’s face it – regardless of the amount of money and time spent, technology is going to break. You could be the world’s foremost technology expert, or the richest business tycoon and it won’t mean one iota in the face of technology failure. For the most part, it will always be unpredictable, and will always happen at the worst possible moment. All we can do is control how we respond to these failures, and in many cases, we can save both money and time by responding thoughtfully and deliberately instead of panicking. It would be impossible to suggest responses for every technology failure scenario, but I can outline the most common ones and the responses that can help you regain control of the situation, or even overcome the failure.
Failure #1: Virus Infection
- Don’t panic. Take out your smartphone and take a picture of the screen, or record a video if it’s making sounds/noises as well.
- Power down the machine. If it’s not responsive, physically remove the power, either by holding down the power button, or by removing the power source via cord or battery.
- Assess the chain of activities leading up to the infection and write them down in as much detail as you can recall. Answer these questions: What were you doing leading up to the infection? How did you know you were infected?
- Notify your designated IT professional OR
- If you are going turn the device back on, make sure you are disconnected from any network. Unplug Ethernet cables, switch off W-Fi, or if you can’t find the Wi-Fi switch, move the device out of range, or turn off the Wi-Fi network.
- Run a full scan with your installed antivirus software. Carefully read all screens and results of the scan.
Failure #2: My internet/network is not working
- Check to see if anyone else on the same network is also offline.
- Just you – wired connection: check for link lights. Most Ethernet-connections on devices have green and amber LEDs that are lit when a connection is active. No LEDs mean no connection. Look for a loose wire, and follow the connection “upstream”. Red or steady flashing amber? Some other network issue, possibly upstream, but also try a reboot.
- Just you – Wi-Fi connection: turn Wi-Fi off and back on. Forget the network and re-add it again. Reboot the Wi-Fi access point (most likely your router). Reboot your computer or device. If you have “Hot-spot” service on your smartphone try using that to verify your computer Wi-Fi is working properly. Alternately, pick up and move to another Wi-Fi source, eg. coffee shop, another office or neighbor.
- Everyone is offline – reboot the router. Reboot the cable/DSL modem if it’s separate from the router. Still nothing – time to call your ISP. Tech support numbers are usually printed on a label on the ISP modem/router, but not necessarily on a router you installed yourself.
Failure #3: My computer won’t turn on
- All types of computers: make sure you aren’t mistaking a malfunctioning (or off!) monitor as a full device failure. Are the power LEDs lit? Do you hear fans or other mechanical noises, such as drives spinning? Watch the monitor carefully when powering on the machine: do you see any output at all, or does the screen stay completely dark?
- Desktops – check the power: check for loose cords. Try plugging the device into a different power outlet. Try a known-good electrical device, eg. desk lamp.
- Laptops – check the power: loose cords? Drained battery? Try unplugging the battery (if removable) with just the AC adapter plugged in. Try the reverse. If you have a spare AC adapter, try that one, or borrow a co-workers AC adapter – make sure you use one that matches the voltage required by your laptop.
- Still nothing? Don’t panic – your data is likely intact on your hard drive, which can be removed and connected to another device to retrieve your information.
- Contact your designated IT professional.
Failure #4: On boot, computer says operating system is missing
- Don’t panic. Try powering down the system and rebooting.
- Remove all attached USB devices. Remove any DVDs or CDs in your optical drive (if you have one). Reboot.
- Still no love? Contact your IT pro or local repair shop.
- Assess your backup situation. Don’t have one? Prepare yourself for possible data loss.
Failure #5: My computer is “pausing” randomly and/or my hard drive is making strange clicking noises
- Save any open work. Close all open applications.
- Assess your backup situation: if you have a backup system in place – confirm the last known good backup and skip to step 5. No backups? Prepare yourself for possible data loss.
- If the computer is only intermittently “pausing” copy any important files to an external USB drive, especially anything that you might need urgently while waiting for a backup restore or repair. This may require patience if the machine seems to pause while accessing certain files or folders. Depending on the damage, even small files may take awhile to copy. Wait as long as you can bear it.
- If you don’t get far with step 3 try turning off the machine for at least an hour. Reboot. Retry step 3.
- Contact your IT pro or local repair shop. Drive failures typically result in data loss, but recovery is possible though usually expensive.