Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be the holder of a Computer Science degree or some other related qualification to successfully troubleshoot common tech problems. In fact, geeks like us have been solving our electronic issues ourselves since the beginning of electronics.
Calling tech support might be your only choice when things go really wrong, but it is never necessary to pick up the phone every time an app fails to start, or your computer freezes. Ironically, it is people who seek help for the smallest hiccups that complain the most about poor customer service or long holding times.
Trying to identify where the problem is, therefore, should be the first thing you do when something unexpected happens. We are not suggesting you crack open your device, but with the tips below, you can start solving at least a few issues yourself.
Understanding the Problem
This may seem obvious depending on how you look at it, but gaining a general understanding of the issue will go a long way to helping you figure out a solution.
For example, say your computer won’t come on. Of course, it might be a serious problem, but you won’t know that until you ask yourself questions like: When did this happen? Was the computer fine last night? Did you install anything suspicious? Was there a power interruption? Is my supply working? What has changed?
Having a list of probable causes is the first step to solving the problem at hand. Describe the issue yourself, and understand all the relevant parameters. These are the first questions the customer support staff will ask. Why not have them answered before you even make the call?
Perform simple troubleshooting measures
Now that you have narrowed down the issue to several likely factors, it is time to start physically examining your system. Start with the basics, such as:
- Checking power cables and switches
- Rebooting or powering off/on
- Running a malware/full-system scan
- Rule out other possibilities
When troubleshooting, always address the most likely causes first by dismissing the ones you know to be very unlikely.
For instance, when a USB flash drive suddenly doesn’t work, the first thing to do is rule out your ports as the problem by unplugging the drive and plugging it into different ports on your system.
And if this doesn’t solve the issue, test the flash drive on another computer. If it works there, then you will have ruled it out, and you can get on with troubleshooting your computer as the obvious problem.
Search the web
If a software or hardware component is misbehaving and you can’t seem to identify the problem, just google it. Other users have probably had the same issue, and there may even be answers.
Start with your manufacturer's/developer’s website and check out the Q&A section, and if you can’t find the answer you’re looking for, go to tech blogs and forums.
To save time, however, make sure your search is as specific as possible. If you are receiving an error message, copy/paste the error text into your search engine, along with any other relevant information.
Backup and reset
Every smartphone, tablet or computer has the “reset to factory settings” option. For smartphones and tablets, all it takes is a few minutes to erase your data and uninstall applications, but for a computer, resetting involves re-installing your operating system.
Whichever the device, therefore, we recommend this step as a last resort; when everything else has failed, and not even tech support can help.
Before resetting, however, move your essentials onto an external drive or cloud storage location to ensure you do not lose any valuable data.
Calling for help might sound easier and faster than attempting to fix the issue yourself, but in reality,
it is not always that way. Buying the best laptops from the biggest brands, for example, won’t guarantee you excellent tech support when you encounter hardware or software problems
Because you are the one with the device, the “professional” on the phone cannot fully see what you’re seeing. Something as simple as a switch being off can cost you hours of valuable time.