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The 10 Things to Do Before Calling Tech Support

Your business depends on technology to succeed, but what happens when your critical business applications are not working properly? Minimize the frustration, business interruption and expense by trying a few of these troubleshooting tips before you call tech support.

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If you are on a pay-per-call support plan, you may be able to solve the problem without an expensive call. If you are not, performing these simple steps before you call or email your support request will save time and get your problem resolved faster.

Do these steps in roughly the order presented. You’ll probably save a few support calls. Tech support will also appreciate it.

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10 IT Troubleshooting Tips: Save Time and Money

 1.   Observe – Look closely at your monitor for clues to the problem. Check the system tray for yellow or red notification icons from programs such as Windows Security Center or Action Center. Check for error messages in your browser window or program notification areas.

2.   Check life support – Humans require air, water and food to function properly. Likewise, computers need cool air, electricity and connections to sustain life. Take steps to keep equipment cool. Make sure components like servers, desktops, monitors and routers are plugged in. Check cable connections to wireless adapters, local networks and printers.

 3.   Restart – Try restarting non-functioning programs and services such as your business application or email program before rebooting the whole computer. For example you can restart the Exchange Transport Service through the console.

4.   Save your work – Before powering off your desktop, save all of your work to the server or a memory stick.  Do not power off the server unless a backup is performed by your staff or IT service provider.

5.   Reboot – A simple power-off and reboot solves more problems than anything else. This was true 25 years ago and is still true today. The problem might be with the server, the desktop, printer or router. Power-off the non-functioning component from the screen, if possible. Otherwise, hold in the power button until it turns off. If that fails, unplug it. Wait 10 seconds before restoring power to the component. If you don’t know where the problem is, start with the printer, then router, desktop and server.

If the problem is no internet access, try rebooting the wireless adapter or router first. If the printer is not working, check status lights then power off and on again. Sometimes the problem is with the desktop and rebooting fixes the printing problem.

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6.   Narrow it down – Try other programs or websites. Check to see if other users are experiencing the same problem.

7.   Be ready – Have the problem or program on the screen when you call. Take note of what you did just before the problem occurred.

8.   Scan – There are a few basic computer maintenance tasks that might help, particularly when poor performance is the problem. Run a virus scan or disk clean-up/defrag.

9.   Research – If you don’t have an unlimited support plan, you may choose to do a little digging yourself to save a support call. Use your search engine to locate information about the error message or symptoms. Use search terms like “Windows 7 Tablet Input Service not found” or “my NetZipR 2020 router hangs frequently.” Other people have most likely experienced the same issue and you can find out what steps they followed to resolve the problem.

If the Internet is down, call the ISP regarding a possible outage, or search “Comcast outage <date>.” Usually someone will be talking about it somewhere on a forum.

10. Question – Ask yourself, or someone who knows, which vendor is responsible. Is this problem the responsibility of my managed services provider (MSP), my internet services provider (ISP) or the supplier of the software?

What’s the alternative to doing your own basic troubleshooting? Sometimes it’s actually faster to just call. The tech may have seen the problem a hundred times before and knows exactly what to do. If you have an unlimited support contract, this may be the best approach.

For clients, support recommends emailing service requests rather than calling. They will respond in 15 minutes or less. The email creates a ticket with a written record, and the problem will be resolved more quickly.

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