Monthly Archives: September 2012

How to Get the Most out of Your Tech Support Calls: Part One, Basic Self-Troubleshooting

IT Calling

Image Credit: madpoet_one

This article is the first article in a series entitled “How to Get the Most out of Your Tech Support Calls,” and aims to provide information to help you have the best conversation you can with your technicians, so that you can get your problem solved right the first time.

Imagine this. It’s Monday afternoon. You’ve been happily working on an important report all morning, but when you get back from lunch, you notice that your computer is acting weird. You attempt to reopen the report to finalize a few things, when an error message appears on the screen. Great, now you have one more thing to squeeze into the day’s busy schedule – talking to tech support.

Don’t just pick up the phone and call tech support first thing. There are some very important, but basic self-troubleshooting steps you should take,

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before you even attempt to call a technician.

Often you can fix simple issues using these steps, whether the problem is occurring on your computer, printer, cell phone, or some other device.

Reboot Your Device

Many times, a simple reboot will fix whatever problem you’re having. If it’s your computer that’s the issue, restart it by going to Start > Shutdown > Restart. For other devices with operating systems, like your cell phone or tablet, attempt to reboot them using the proper restart protocol for the device.

For printers or other simple devices, locate the power switch and turn the item off. Once the item is off, do not turn it on immediately. Instead, count to ten, and then turn the device on. Giving it a few seconds like this ensures the device is completely powered down before you turn it back on.

If your problem is internet related, attempt to figure out if the problem is with one particular site, or all sites. If you cannot access anything online, try power cycling (rebooting) your router and modem by unplugging the power from the back of the device for 10 or 15 seconds.

Check Batteries

If your problem is with a wireless device, such as a mouse or keyboard not working, try swapping out the batteries. With devices being more energy efficient now days, it’s often difficult to remember the last time you changed the batteries. So eliminate any doubt by swapping them out for fresh ones to see if that solves the problem.

Swap out the Device

When possible, try swapping out the broken device for a known working one to see if it makes a difference. If it does not, try your potentially broken item on a different machine to see if it works there.

Doing this will tell you a few things. First, if the device doesn’t work on a second computer, it’s the device that is broken and needs to be replaced. If the device works just fine on the second computer, it’s probably your computer that is having the problem.

Either way, swapping devices like this is one of the fastest ways to determine which item is causing the problem.

Try to Figure out the Cause

If a simple reboot doesn’t fix the issue, attempt to figure out the cause. Does the problem always occur after a particular action? If so, when you skip that action (if possible) does the problem still occur? Is it possible to skip the action that causes the problem and still perform the tasks you need to?

Attempting to determine the cause will not only help to pinpoint what is creating the issue, but may also highlight a possible work around that will enable you to keep working, until you actually have time to sit on the phone with tech support.

Typically, if the problem isn’t a serious one, any of the self-troubleshooting steps above will help resolve the issue. If not, then it’s time to call tech support. Just remember when you call to tell them the things you’ve already tried, to avoid having to try those steps again.

Stay tuned for How to Get the Most Out of Your Tech Support Calls, Part Two: Gathering Information Before You Call.

Julie Strier is a freelance writer who likes to help you get the most out of your

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tech support calls. Email:

Your Old Technology is Costing You Money: Or How to Know When to Upgrade

Hardware Upgrade

Image Credit: Tom Purves

The unfortunate reality about technology is that eventually it becomes outdated, which usually occurs sooner rather than later. When this happens, you have two options, upgrade, or continue using your old technology.

Usually, it isn’t imperative that you upgrade right away. In fact, you can often get along using your current technology, despite newer versions being released.

However, this can lull you into a false sense of security, thinking that your technology is fine and won’t need to be replaced for a long while, when in actuality it could be costing you more time and money than you realize.

So, how do you know when your technology is costing you too much; how do you know when it’s time to upgrade?

Here are some easy ways to assess when it might be time to upgrade.

The Technology is Slowing Down

When technology is older, it’s often much slower than its newer counterpart. However, slowness does more than cause frustration on the part of the user; it also causes a dip in productivity, which can cost your company money in the long run.

To determine if it may be time to upgrade, determine how many other machines you have that are of similar age and slowness. It may be time to upgrade if you realize that slowness may be impacting most or all of your staff across the board.

Your Old Technology Needs Repairing, Again

It may be time to consider an upgrade if you find yourself repairing your equipment more frequently than before. Over time parts wear and stop working. An occasional repair is fine, but just like a car, if you find that you are pouring more money into it just to keep everything running, it might be time to upgrade.

New Technology Can Enable You to Do More

New technology is often a blend of better hardware, corrected past mistakes, increased security protocols, along with some new, helpful features.  All of this means that aside from getting a faster performing machine, you’ll probably have access to features which help make your life a lot easier, enabling you to get more done in the same amount of time. The time saved could free you up to work on newer projects.

It’s Older than 4 or 5 Years Old

If your technology is from four or five years ago, or longer, it’s definitely time to upgrade. That’s because technology changes so rapidly, that its capacity doubles nearly every 18 months. (This phenomenon is known as Moore’s Law.)  If you think your old computers are “good enough” wait until you see what its newer, faster counterpart can do.

These are just a few ways to tell if it’s time to upgrade your office technology. If, after analyzing your situation, you find that you are in need of upgrading your entire office, don’t fret. We have ways of making a whole office upgrade affordable and budget-able. Contact us today to find out how.

Julie Strier is a freelance writer who likes to help you make sense of your technology needs. Email:

New Software: Wait Before You Evaluate

Evaluation Scale

Image Credit: billsoPHOTO

Late last week your office upgraded your main software. Now, it’s Monday morning, and you’re pulling your hair out, trying not to shout obscenities as you struggle to accomplish even the simplest of tasks.

But before you go badmouthing your new software, and requesting it be removed from your system (or the office entirely), try to give it at least a few days before you evaluate your software.

The Brain Trick

Our brains, in their infinite wisdom, always want to snap back to what’s familiar, at least initially. So when you first start using that new piece of software, it may send you signals about how difficult it is. It may even give you lots of reasons why you should go back to your old software. Don’t listen.

Instead, try to keep an open mind and remain judgment free, at least for a week or two. You should find that after even a day of using your new software, you’re a lot more comfortable with it, and therefore a lot less resistant.

If your brain is really making things difficult, try to seek comfort in the fact that you are learning something new, which is actually quite good for your brain, and remember that new skills take time to learn.

Keep Calm and Carry On

New software, even newer versions of the same software, often come with new tools and features. One of the easiest ways to reduce frustration when it comes to new software is to give yourself extra time when using it. Sure you could have gotten it done in 10 minutes using the old way, but think about how many hours you put into learning that system. The same holds true with the new software.

Giving yourself adequate time to use and learn your new software, along with reducing your expectations based upon past experiences, should go a long way to helping you enjoy the change.

Anytime new software is involved, there is always a learning curve. The important thing is to expect and understand this will happen, and not get frustrated when you can’t do something initially.

Over time, you’ll probably come to love your new software just as much as the old software it replaced, but you’ll never know how well it can work for you if you make snap decisions to remove it before you’ve even gotten a chance to use the software. When it comes to new software, do yourself a favor – wait before you evaluate – and you’ll be a lot happier with your experience in the long run.