JUNE 2012: Seriously, is there ever a good time for computer problems?
When the unplanned happens, don’t panic — take charge! Leap onto these quick fixes before scouring chat rooms or calling an IT pro:
1) Reboot. Yes, you’ve heard it before. That’s because it works! But what rebooting doesn’t do is solve the underlying problem. You’ll still need to address it later so remember to keep track of what you were doing when the wrench showed. And in your plans. It’s best to let your computer rest a few moments before turning it back on, and if you want to reboot a computer that’s frozen, hold the power button down for at least five seconds.
2) Check the connections. Loose connectors or connectors that need re-seating can cause all kinds of problems. Unplug your computer and all the peripherals, and then plug them all in again, firmly. Don’t forget about the cables that connect your modem or your router.
3) Scan for viruses. Viruses are annoying. And insidious. And a total time suck…if you let them win! Run a full-disk scan to get rid of any that may be hiding deep inside your computer and creating havoc (or slowing you down).
4) Swap cables. Sometimes the cable or plug has gone bad. It happens. And what an easy fix! So keep spares on hand in case of an emergency.
5) Reinstall software. This is easier than it sounds, even for operating system software. To make a fresh start, first make a full backup of your hard drive and then remove the program or application completely (this process depends on your computer and the software but it’s much simpler now than it used to be). Now reinstall and hop on your way.
A tip to keep you from freaking out if something goes wrong: back up! All the time. Automatically. Set it and forget it. To an external drive (even a thumb drive) and/or to the cloud. With a full backup waiting at your beck and call, you’ll be less likely to want to pull your hair out if your computer acts up.