Bay City Blog

Self Help Computer repair

Trevor Moon

As an average computer user what do you do when problems occur?   In last month's article we talked about the immense complexity of the current computer systems and how difficult it can be to diagnose and fix problems.  Even experts who understand the inner working of the windows 7 operating system will often resort to simply reinstalling the whole system when difficult problems occur rather than trying to find which of the 80,000 files or 200,000 setting are causing the problem.

The important thing is not to feel that you need to be an expert on everything and that it is OK to seek help.  If you are competent at your job and with the computer, it doesn't necessarily follow  that you must also be capable of fixing computer problems.  It's a bit like driving a car. You need to have skills to drive safely and competently but should not be expected to understand how the engine works, or how to fix the car if it breaks down.

So what do you do when problems occur? - here are our list of DO's

  1. Write down the details of the error.
    The first thing to do when faults occur is to write down the time the fault occurred together with the description of the error message and any related error codes and which programs were open or being used.    This information is extremely helpful to those who need to provide help to track down the problem and fix it.  It also makes it easier for the fault finder if you are able to replicate the circumstances that caused the fault.
  2. Look up the product help.
    If you are not sure whether it is a computer caused error or simply something about the program you don't understand, then it is also a good idea to use the help system. Most programs contain basic help which will refer you to correct documents on the internet to provide  further information. That way you see whether the problem is, for example, simply a mistaken key stroke rather than a computer malfunction.   Also make sure any advice is from reputable sources and not just any Joe Blow posting on the internet.
  3. Call an expert
    Have a good support arrangement with your IT company or software provider then give them a call to get some advice.
  4. Restart the computer and/or restore to an earlier time.
    A common way of fixing various glitches is simply to shut down the computer and restart.  For more advanced users it is appropriate to consider performing a system restore to an earlier point time. The System restore message may come up when you reboot, in which case follow the prompts to complete the restoration.  This procedure is completely safe and is reversible to there is no risk of doing any damage to the system.
  5. Set a time limit for working on the problem.
    One of the key points about trying to fix things yourself is to set a definite time limit on how long you spend trying to fix things or research the problem.  If you know the value your own time to the business then you will be more aware that it pays to seek help sooner rather than later to avoid costing money by not calling for help.  In fact trying to fiddle with a system can make things worse and make the repair job much more difficult later. As a rule of thumb, as an average computer user if you have spent more than 10 minutes identifying the problem and rebooting once then it is definitely time to seek help either from a colleague or your IT company.  A more knowledgeable computer user should not spend more than 30 minutes trying to fix a problem after doing a system reboot or a restore.  At that time some more expert advice should be sought.

If that is the list of things to DO then here is our list of things NOT TO DO:

  1. Waste hours trying every fix suggested on the Internet.
    Whatever you do don't waste hours trying to fix the problem yourself. Use our guidelines above to set reasonable time limits for persisting or trying to fix problems.  Often the big time wasters occur when researching the problem on the internet and trying every recommended fix from top to bottom only to end up in a worse mess.
  2. Downloading and running bogus fix it software.
    These come in thousands of guises, some are downright dangerous and others such as registry cleaners will at best be ineffective and possibly make things worse.  Many of these programs optimise their website to pick up on key words and pretend to offer a solution to your problem but are little more than deceptive advertising.
  3. Call your mates for help too often
    Many  people have mates in the IT industry or knowledgeable friends who they call on for advice. Getting a little bit of help is OK but calling them during working hours and taking up their working or leisure time to have the problem fixed, will most likely result in you losing a friend and still having the problem.
  4. Use unlicensed or old software without product support.
      If you run a business then you must have appropriate support for the software that you run.  Avoid free software unless there is an option to upgrade to paid support options.  As for using unlicensed or copied software this is ticking time bomb and will eventually cause grief when your system fails, you cannot get support and the system you need to run your business cannot be restored.
  5. Do all of the steps above,
    Waste hours, apply every bogus fix from the internet, download and run registry cleaners, get your mates in, argue with your mates,  call up the IT guy to fix the mess,  have a confused look when the IT guy asks for the program disks and explains that your software has been downloaded from the net by your mate and find out you need to buy new software and then complain when the bill is more than $100.
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