Some of my clients are convinced that my technology is trouble free and works perfectly all the time. Nothing could be further from the truth. Technology consultants use the same technology and services you use. You could argue that by virtue of our training and experience we are able to manifest more potential from a given product or service and see through a lot of the marketing that cloaks inherently bad products and services, but in the end, we are subject to same random quality problems, hardware quirks and internet outages like everyone else. Fortunately for us, our professional skills translate well granting us “Physician, heal thyself,” capabilities.
“Never let them see you sweat.”
I like to tell my clients that the only time they should get nervous about a technical problem is if they see me nervous or worried about a technical problem. I can’t cram 30 years of experience into a blog article, but I can tell you how I deal with my own technical problems (which is the same way I approach your problems), and most of them are dirt simple, tried-and-true tactics that can be used to solve numerous technical issues.
- Reboot. Even though I chant this like a mantra to everyone, even I am sometimes reluctant to reboot my PC when I’m having trouble. Even though I have technical expertise to actually diagnose why my PC needs a reboot – it doesn’t change the actual solution.
- Check the power. For the devices that are stubbornly not turning on – make sure your cords, adapters, batteries, power strips are working. Test them with other devices (carefully) to see if you can isolate whether the problem is truly a dead computer and not an unplugged power cord.
- Look for the signs of the problem. Most technology, hardware and software, will tell you it’s having a problem, whether it be a warning icon, or message splashed across the top of the screen or a more discreet pop-up that has since dismissed itself. There may be audible cues or other physical evidence that you might be missing because you are laser-focused on the screen and missing the obvious grinding noise or flashing LEDs on the computer itself.
- Is anyone else having a problem? Less useful if you are the only person working at your location, but there are ways to reach out to co-workers, fellow residents or neighbors to determine if the problem is just you or more widespread. Determining scope and scale of a problem is key to solving something that a reboot does not solve.
- Google it. This is a more advanced level skill as sometimes describing the problem is as difficult as diagnosing it, especially if your technology vocabulary is limited. Fortunately, there are way more laypeople on the internet than technicians, so even vague descriptions of the problem might lead to a diagnosis and possible solution. The search engines all keep track of all searches, both carefully crafted and otherwise and can comb through the static to bring most things into focus. Sometimes you find out that it’s not actually a problem but a new “feature.”
- Try repairing the software or app. This is easier to do on mobile devices but depending on your familiarity with your computer’s OS and your access to the software installers, also a quick, relatively simple fix for the bigger devices. The repair function is meant to restore an application back to “new” while (usually) retaining your settings.
- Did you try rebooting it a second time? I’m still surprised how often this works.