In the workplace
Posted on: March 14, 2017
Computer Problems Common Sense
Posted by: Phil Stalnaker
I often get asked outside of work to help people I know with computer problems. The requests always manage to start out the same way. “Since you are a tech head…” My desired response is to let them know, unequivocally, that I am not a tech head (or techhie, or anything else), but that I am a businessman working in the field of technology. And that is true. I am not one of the techs – which, for our clients, is a good thing. I desire, though, to be a valuable member and producing partner of our firm, so I usually end up helping out with whatever computer problems they have. Sometimes it goes well and sometimes I have to call in the specialists for help.
Though technology is certainly not my first language, I have spent the last twelve years working in tech fields and do have a basic level of understanding. That means I can handle some computer problems, but know just enough to make me dangerous when I stretch out past my wheelhouse. While working in an office with a bunch of technology specialists can be a bit intimidating, it is comforting for me to know that they are only trying to help us “non-techs” navigate this increasingly complicated world of computers that now encircles everything we do. One can no longer escape computers when they leave work. They are a part of everything now, and we, as the public majority, would benefit from some common problem solving ideas.
Who Cares if it is Your Fault?
During college I took a computer class and the first thing my professor said to us has stuck with me. I don’t remember where he cited this stat from (so please forgive me), but it has held true. He said that 94% of all computer problems are operator error. That means, if something on your computer isn’t working correctly, the odds are that it was caused by the human element. I say this not to make anyone feel bad, but to free you to be you. This means a few things: 1), the computer doesn’t hate you – it is an inanimate object and doesn’t “feel”); and 2) that you are not alone – we all mess things up on our machines and need fixes from time to time. There is no need to feel embarrassed or angry by the computer problem. It is a part of life now that we all deal with. It is simply time to troubleshoot and move on.
Finding and Fixing Computer Problems
Speaking of troubleshooting, Occam’s razor applies here are well. The simplest solution is probably the correct one. Many clients get annoyed that we always ask if they have rebooted the computer after noticing a problem. Why do we ask that? Because a good restart is the simplest thing to do and it often works! During the writing of this article my cell phone dinged at me that I had a voicemail, but it didn’t load up in the phone app. Instead of worrying about it, the first thing I did was restart the phone. Who would’ve guessed, it worked. The phone is working properly again. The art of troubleshooting computer problems can be tedious, but starting with the simple and working towards the complicated is always the most efficient and universally accepted way to solve any problem.
It is true, though, that by the time you notice there is a problem, the symptoms are strong enough that it will take more than a restart to fix. If your computer has been getting increasingly sluggish over an extended time or that whine coming from the PC has gone unheard for a while, some problems that may have started out as simple could become more difficult to fix as time goes on. Being proactive and preventative is the best way to ensure a long life for your computer. Just like eating healthy and exercising can keep some health problems from forming, good treatment of your machine can keep it strong for many years. Take a look at the list below to see some simple things that anyone can do which will help to prevent problems from arising.
Preventing Computer Problems
- Regularly run the disk defragmenter application. It is a simple process and helps keep the computer running smoothly by making its work run smoother.
- Regularly restart your machine. Give it a chance to shut off every few days, at least. In comparison, the human brain is the most complicated, powerful computer ever and it still needs to shut off from time to time.
- Pay for decent anti-virus/malware software. Viruses and malware/spyware are everywhere and yes, people are looking to steal information from you. You don’t leave your front door unlocked, do you? Then don’t leave your digital valuables unlocked either!
- Read and think before opening emails. If something seems fishy, then don’t open it. Even if you recognize the sender, consider the subject line and if you do open the email, make sure you are completely comfortable with everything before clicking on any links!
- Don’t just randomly follow links and blindly surf the internet. Catching viruses is easier than you think and can cause you major computer problems.
- Keep backups of your files! In case the worst happens, make sure you are covered with both on-site and off-site (cloud) backups.
This is by no means and exhaustive list, but one that will help you avoid many problems. Feel free to add more common sense ideas into the comments and whatever happens, do not be afraid to ask for help! Techs are able to fix these problems and deal with them thousands upon thousands of times. You are not alone! That is, unless they all move to New Zealand.