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

Written by Grace O'Brien

IT geeks are just like you, with the exception that they can fix computer problems. They aren’t born with this knowledge, however; it’s not coded in their genes. Instead, IT pros use a simple 11-step programme that anyone can refer to when their computer is not working. And it solves nearly all problems.

11 IT pro steps to follow when your computer is not working

If you're sitting in despair and shouting 'my computer is not working!', don't worry. Follow these eleven steps to get your machine up and running again:

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.

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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, or a vendor, or a friend. (Not me!) If you want professional IT support, definitely talk to our friends at Pensar, Bright, Doherty and Axon.

If, after all that, your computer is not working...

Refer to Step 11 and call for help. There's no shame in it, and if you've documented the problem and kept a log of your attempts to fix it, an IT pro should be able to solve your problem.

Further reading: Combatting the ‘spinning wheel of rage’: what to do when IT goes wrong

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Bureaucracy , Technology