you are a regular computer user, you may be very proficient at emailing,
surfing the internet and writing letters, but may not know where to
start if your computer has a problem. This month, we’ll let you in on
some of the questions we use to find the clues to your technology
Do you have
a backup of your important files?
This is the first question because it is the most important. Even if
your problem seems minor, it is a good idea to ensure your files are
protected, in case things get any worse. At a minimum, burn your photos
and accounting files to a CD or DVD and make sure you can then read
them. If you are taking regular backups, check them now to make sure
you can read the information on them.
reproduce the problem?
you get the same result on demand, or is the problem intermittent?
When the problem recurs, does it have exactly the same symptoms (e.g.
the wording of any error messages)? It’s also important to write down
any errors in their entirety – an exact phrase or error code can help us
greatly to find the cause.
happen for everyone, or just you?
Don’t take this personally, but if you have multiple computers, does
everyone experience the same problem? Or if there is only one computer,
does it have multiple ‘user accounts’ (people that can log onto it), and
does everyone get the same error? Problems can be isolated to just one
computer or even one set of personal, local settings on one computer.
When did it
the problem appeared suddenly and just recently, or has it been getting
progressively worse over a period of time?
lot of troubleshooting is based on the ‘what’s changed’ game, looking at
what is different now compared to when things were working.
Has any new software
been installed or any new hardware devices added (e.g. printers, digital
there been any changes in the environmental conditions (e.g. a heat
wave, cold snap, flooding or power surges)?
been downloading free games and music?
lot of free things on the internet can contain unexpected, nasty
surprises, or these can be bundled in the file sharing software you’ve
used to acquire your freebies. Also, if you now have a rather large
collection of digital music or photos, you may be running out of space
on your hard disk.
scanning software up to date and has it been run recently?
Having an installed set of software tools to protect your computer from
infections (like viruses, spyware and adware) is the first step, but
they must be kept up-to-date and run on a regular basis. Even if your
software is fully automated, check to make sure it is functioning and
hasn’t encountered any major problems itself (e.g. expired licenses).
Sometimes protection software can report as having eliminated an
infection, but the collateral damage may still leave you with a
computer have the latest software updates?
Software manufacturers release patches and updates regularly, as they
are made aware of problems. See if your software has a ‘check for
updates’ feature, in both your operating system and your applications
(e.g. Microsoft Office, Adobe Acrobat Reader etc).
Collect as much
information as you can about the problem, and anything else you think
may be related, and talk to your Computer Problem Solver. Having
a diary of your computer’s history can save you a great deal of money,
as it makes it much easier and faster to diagnose the patient’s illness.
Contact us about
how we can put these
and other tips into action for you.