You get to the office, grab your cup of coffee, and turn on your desktop thinking it’s going to be a typical day at the grind – that is, until your work companion doesn’t cooperate. General slowness, glitches, or inability to get to your sites and apps can make for a very frustrating day. For many business pros, this immediately triggers a frantic attempt to reach I.T. support to come and rescue them. While many issues can only be solved by such I.T. specialists, there are some basic steps one can take to cover the bases before or while I.T. support is pending. Note, this is not a Boolean (nerd speak for if, then or true/false) process guide, but helpful and fundamental troubleshooting steps.
Check for updates
Operating systems, software applications, and pretty much all tech tools rely on updates. When computers/phones/tablets/printers/any device or app is not updated at recommended frequencies, two things often result: performance issues and security gaps. If your computer is acting weird, slow, or suspiciously, a good first check is to review your last update and see if one is due. For the most part, reputable software companies will program or push notifications for users to update at regular intervals as new patches and improvements are created – do not ignore these (but do make sure they are legitimate)!
While the process of checking for updates varies with each platform, it is most likely discoverable via web search (everyone hears “Google it” as they finish this sentence). For example, on Windows 10 you can check for updates by searching ‘settings’ in the search box > selecting ‘Update and Security’ option at bottom of Windows Settings menu > click box ‘Check for updates’ under Update status (where it should document when it last updated) > if given notice that an update is available, action update.
Being attentive to updates is imperative to computer performance and cybersecurity. In fact, Verizon’s 2018 Data Breach Investigations Report listed prompt patching as a top priority to reduce cyberattack instances. For businesses with many computers to manage, it may be time to consider a professionally managed update service.
Believe it or not, this may be step #1 for that “I.T. guy” for whom you are waiting. Sometimes the O/S or other systems experience a coding error and can’t self-repair – the computer needs a fresh start. As simple as it sounds, power cycling a computer can potentially resolve issues as simple as slowness or as worrisome as “blue screen”. This practice can extend to mobile devices, browsers, modems/routers, and more. When in doubt, REBOOT!
Check for internet connectivity
Most of our tasks require internet connection, and when this is disrupted, you’ll notice quickly. Checking for connectivity issues is mostly a process of elimination. Most systems have easy ways to display and list whether or not you are connected to a network, so checking your network activity indicator is a good start. Use this process to verify the network to which you are connected, connection status, and internet availability. For WiFi issues, trying to connect with other devices or with ethernet will help narrow the list of possibilities.
When connection isn’t the issue, the network itself could be running slow or unavailable due to issues at the local network or internet service level. Speedtest.net is a popular tool for checking internet speeds, so if you are getting less than 50% of the advertised speed through your internet service plan, it may be time to contact your ISP and/or power cycle your router (sound familiar?). There is always the possibility of local outages and other causes, but the steps mentioned should help find the root issue or resolution.
Cut out the bloat
In general, a cleaner and leaner computer is going to perform better. If your computer experiences slowness or crashes at odd times, it could be because of memory or storage overload. Checking the task manager (Ctrl+alt+delete > task manager) is one way to see what is weighing down your computer’s resources. From there, you can close out unneeded apps and processes; however, excessive file and application bloat may mean it’s time to get rid of extraneous programs entirely. While adhering to your company IT policies, you can reference the app section of settings in Windows or by dragging the app shortcut to the Trash on macOS to uninstall. Additionally, keep an eye out for duplicate and superfluous files. Keeping your hard drive efficient and organized in addition to leveraging centralized storage solutions can prevent slowness and crashes.
The same applies for browser issues. Two words: clear cache. Managing your extensions, clearing your cache, and managing your tabs can all keep your browsing experience fast and clean.
Save yourself time and headache
Inevitably, you will run into issues that you can’t fix and that’s why professional resources like Progressive Technology exist (get fast support by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org). Regardless, knowing some basic troubleshooting techniques can equip you to self-service minor issues and get you up-and-running more quickly.