How do you react to computer problems? Do you sit back and think about the last thing you did? Do you panic, frantically pressing buttons? Do you just shut off your computer and call your “computer guru”? Do you shoot off an email to WorldStart?
Successful problem solving requires the right state of mind. It can make the difference between minutes and days. It can prevent a small problem from getting worse. Here are some things to remember when faced with computer catastrophes:
1. Don’t panic — In most cases you can turn off your PC and get back to the problem later. Of course, many problems occur when you do have a deadline looming (or passed). If you can wait, even for a few minutes, until you take a few deep breaths, do so.
2. The problem may not be as big as it seems — Hard drives do crash, but that isn’t necessarily what just happened. It’s hard to judge a problem when it first occurs. After calmly looking over the situation you may be back up and running in a few minutes.
3. Don’t jump to conclusions before you understand the problem and look at every angle. Don’t go reformatting your hard drive when you might be able to adjust one setting and be back on your feet.
4. Think through all possibilities before you begin — Consider any recent changes. Did you install or uninstall software? Have you added a new device: drive, printer, scanner? Did you open an attachment in an email or download a file? Was anyone else on your computer? Have you changed any settings?
5. Work on the problem when you have time — Ten minutes before dinner is not the best time to begin a project. You’re more likely to rush. Expect to invest a few hours so you can relax and take it easy.
6. Don’t abuse your hardware — I’ve been known to get physical when frustrated, but throwing the keyboard across the room will not unfreeze my computer. Smacking the monitor may feel good, but it can mess things up. Violently shaking the printer will eventually get the paper jam out, but may lead to other damage.
7. Know when to take a break — If you start feeling warn out, step away from the computer. Get some rest, relax, refuel then jump back in with a fresh outlook. I don’t know how many problems I’ve solved in two minutes after a night’s sleep when the previous day I spent hours.
8. Don’t be shy — Ask for help. If you exhaust all your possibilities or get in over your head, call a friend who knows computers. Check out our Computer Tips website, the WorldStart Message Board, and any other resource you can think of. You can even try calling tech support for your computer or the hardware component manufacturer—here are some tips for dealing with tech support…
The right frame of mind is an important ingredient in successful computer problem solving. Keep a cool head and you’re more likely to figure out what’s wrong.
David Samuel Thomas