Help, my computer is not working! 11 IT-pro steps to make it work again

Next time, before you call your nearest and dearest and yell down the phone ‘Help! My computer is not working!’ Stop and try these 11 IT-pro steps first.

my computer is not working: tech support cheat sheet

IT geeks are just like you except that we can fix computer problems. But we aren’t born with that knowledge; it’s not coded in our genes. Instead, we have a simple 11-step programme, which I use when my computer is not working and which solves nearly all problems:

  1. Is it plugged in? This works surprisingly often. Things get disconnected and new things don’t get plugged in properly. Same goes for Wi-Fi and projectors.
  2. Did you reboot? Most of the time when the internet doesn’t work, the router needs rebooting. And most of the time when something goes wrong on a computer, rebooting is an essential first step.
  3. RTFM. Read the, ahem, manual! Geeks don’t like to admit it but we sometimes read manuals to find out how to do things. But ssshh, don’t tell anyone!
  4. Keep a log. But if none of the obvious things work, you’re going to need to do some diagnostics. I find it very helpful to keep a log of what I tried and what worked or didn’t work.
  5. Make the problem repeatable. If you can repeat the problem consistently, it’s much easier to fix it. You can try something and see if it helps or not.
  6. Form a hypothesis. Start with a theory of what’s going wrong – ‘the upgrade didn’t install properly’ or ‘the password is wrong’ or whatever.
  7. Google it. Type in a description of the problem, ‘windows upgrade failed’ or ‘change my password in XYZ application’. Look for sites that look plausible, such as vendor support sites.
  8. Have an escape route. Sometimes, Googling a problem produces lots of different possible explanations and you may need to try several different solutions so always give yourself a way back. The log will help and if you’re doing serious computer surgery, it’s a good idea to have a backup.
  9. Test it. Apply the solution you discovered and see if it fixes the problem. If it does, then you’re done. Hurray. If not, go back to step 6.
  10. Repeat steps 6-9 three times. ‘If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again but then give up. Don’t be a bloody fool about it.’
  11. Get proper help. If you can’t solve it in a reasonable time, get more help. Call company tech support. Call the vendor. Call a friend. (Not me!)

(Hat tip to xkcd for the fabulous flowchart)

One comment on “Help, my computer is not working! 11 IT-pro steps to make it work again

  1. I having Same problem . I tried a lot to fix that at last I made a call on 1-8SS-213-4314 toll free. I got great help from a certified technician to fix all kind of pop-ups only in a single call.

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