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Basic Tech Fix Tips to Try Before You Call

February 5th, 2020 by admin

Close up of a computer keyboard with small figurines of workers repairing it

We are always here on-demand to assist with any PC problem, but sometimes it's faster and easier to try to fix simple issues yourself first. Here are some basic tips we recommend you try first when you run into these common problems.

For browser problems

  • Restart the browser: Your browser is probably the most-used app on your computer. If multiple separate websites aren't loading (or not loading correctly), try restarting your browser first. It's quick, easy, and solves a lot of problems. On the other hand, if it's just one site that's having a problem, check services like Down For Everyone Or Just Me to see if the site itself might be the one with the problem.
  • Disable extensions: As great as extensions are, they can also introduce problems. If your browser starts behaving oddly after you install or update an extension, disable them to see if the problem stops. If it does, re-enable them one at a time to figure out which one it is. You can also check a website in incognito mode to quickly rule out any extensions or cookies that might cause a problem.
  • Clear your cache and cookies: One of the first things tech support will suggest you do if you're having browser problems is clear your cache and cookies. May as well get this step out of the way. Like restarting your browser, clearing your cache can fix a lot of under the hood problems without the need for a lengthy diagnostics phone call.

For internet problems

  • Unplug your router for 10 seconds: When your internet goes out, it's not always your ISP's fault. Sometimes your router can be the problem. Restarting your router is one of the first solutions tech support will suggest.
  • Perform a speed test: Assuming you have any internet access at all, a speed test can tell you whether it's your connection that's the problem. If you're paying for one speed but getting another, you might need to call your ISP. If you're getting the right connection speed, but things are still slow, there may be a bandwidth hog on your Wi-Fi. Try Ookla for a quick, free speed test.
  • Turn off extra downloads: Before you call your ISP, make sure your computer isn't downloading something in the background. The first suspect is, of course, Windows 10 which does background uploads and downloads without letting the user know. Windows 10 is especially difficult because Microsoft won't let you turn off automatic windows updates. You'll see them in the lower right corner of your screen and you'll be able to select and turn them off from the 'Notifications' window. This may be a temporary fix however because if you stop a download/update the next time you restart your computer it will likely restart. This is a safety feature to ensure your software is always up-to-date to keep your PC secure.

    The second suspect is Chrome and/or Firefox. So, in this case, you may want to close your browser and restart.

    To know for sure, set up this easy, free, network monitor so you can keep track of what programs are uploading or downloading in the background. Or you can always hit CTRL-ALT-DELETE and click 'Task Manager' to check what's running on your PC at the time and turn off anything you don't want.

For general PC problems

  • Restart your computer: When your computer does something weird, this is always the first, best step to fixing it. It's also extremely important when it comes to the next phase we'll get to in a bit: ensuring a problem is reproducible.
  • Close other applications: If your machine is running slower than normal, you may have too many applications running, hogging your RAM. Close background apps until you've freed up some space (of course, you shouldn't go overboard, either). This is also a good way to isolate any problem applications that may be causing trouble.
  • Free up disk space: When your RAM gets full of data, your PC can offload some of that data to your hard drive. If your hard drive is already pretty full to start with, this can cause your system to grind to a halt during regular use. Make life easier on yourself by clearing out a few gigabytes of data before you call support and see if that fixes things. This may also help you identify whether you have a faulty hard drive that's causing the issue.

These things won't fix all your problems all the time, but if you check these before you call us, you can dramatically reduce the number of calls you have to make in the first place. More importantly, our tech support team will probably ask you to do some or all of these things anyway so that phone call will go a lot smoother when you've got this out of the way first. Lastly, if all these things fail, document the problem by taking screenshots so we can more quickly and easily identify the issue and fix it faster when you call.

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