problem solving / Tech ed / Tech Tips

How to Solve the Hardest Computer Problem

About a year ago, I posted a poll on my blog asking readers what they thought was the hardest techie problem they faced on a daily basis. Their choices were:

  • Can’t double click an icon/program
  • Text got deleted
  • Couldn’t exit a program
  • The menu command they wanted to use was unavailable/greyed out
  • The computer didn’t work
  • A program had disappeared

By a 3:1 margin, the answer was, the computer didn’t work.

Let me tell you how to solve that.

Most of the problems I face in my computer lab are the result of user error, or user lack of knowledge on how to do whatever it is they want to do. This particular issue is no exception, though more frustrating than most. You sit down, ready to whip through that letter or document that must be done. Three seconds later, you’re ready to throw the computer out the window. Before you do, here’s what I want you to do:

  • Check the power light on the tower/CPU. Is it lit up? This stumps everyone. You think the computer should be on, so don’t think to check the power. At least 10% of the time, this will solve it for you
  • Check the monitor power. Is it on? You see that the CPU is on so assume the power is working. Who the h*** would turn the monitor off? Nevertheless, this is the culprit more often than I ever would have thought.
  • Wiggle the mouse around. If the little guy is sleeping, the computer is too.
  • Is the computer plugged in? You pushed all the power buttons, but no lights came on. This sounds like a serious problem. Before we declare it so, check your power. Are the plugs plugged in? If the plug for the computer is in an outlet on a light switch or timer, is that on, too?
  • Check the connections between the monitor and the CPU, as well as the keyboard/mouse and the CPU. These could jiggle loose–and they will–and then nothing works. Easy fix–plug them back in.

That’s it. If you are that 5% that these steps won’t solve, you have a legitimate Serious Problem. Believe it or not, that isn’t often. Usually the computer works, maybe slowly because something is causing it problems. There are simple solutions for that, too, which I’ll cover later.

Or, drop me a comment. I’ll let you know.

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