After 28 years of troubleshooting computer systems, I have a tip for all of you non-technical types... that have an issue and don't know where to start.
- Before you call a tech, pull out your hair or take your computer to the dumpster, follow these simple steps.
- Turn off the computer.
- Unplug the computer. (If you have a laptop then you MUST also remove the battery.)
- Power all devices off. This means everything. Every Printer, Monitor, USB Device, Mouse, Keyboard, Phone line, Modem, Router... everything that has batteries, a power cord or plugs into the computer. (ONLY after turning the computer off and unplugging it.)
Helpful Hint: If everything is plugged into a surge protector, turning OFF the surge protector is the SAME as unplugging. This saves time and effort also. You MUST unplug the computer itself though, without fail.
Helpful Hint: If you are concerned you will NOT remember where to plug something back in, get a pen and some masking tape or a sticky pad and label them... (ie: place a 1 on the tape and put it next to the hole and then put a 1 on the cable that goes in that hole) DON'T WORRY! Most devices that can plug into more than one place won't mind if you move them. Most are color coded already to make it easy to find where they go. (blue plug goes in blue hole, etc.)
Double Check: Once you are sure everything is off, make sure that any phone lines or cords from modems or routers are unplugged. Anything that can or might supply power to the computer... unplug. If you see a green light on the back of the computer, something is NOT unplugged.
- Count to 300 or simply wait 3 minutes for all devices to discharge. Plugging them back in right away defeats the process. (Patience here, allow proper time... make a sandwich, call your Mom, pick your nose, just wait at least 3 minutes.)
- Plug in any cables you have unplugged in reverse order. (ie: We turned the computer off FIRST and unplugged it FIRST so we will plug it in LAST)
- Turn on the power to all devices (NOT THE COMPUTER ITSELF!) and make sure they are re-connected to the computer.
Double Check: Make sure all devices are re-connected and have power.
IMPORTANT!: It is very important that you plug in and turn on ALL devices BEFORE you plug the computer in. Ensure that everything (printer, mouse, monitor, USB devices, Router Cable...etc.) is plugged in and turned on before you place the power cord into the computer.
- Plug the computer in. (replace the battery also if it is a laptop, unless the problem IS the battery)
- Push the power button and start the computer.
If I had a nickel for every time that following the above steps resolved a computer problem, I would rival Bill Gates in my wealth.
Many devices constantly supply power to the computer motherboard and allowing them to discharge can alleviate minor hardware issues.
If the above steps do NOT resolve the problem. Do not attempt to fix it yourself or from instructions you find on the Internet. Call a technician immediately and tell them everything that you were doing when the problem occurred.
Computers are the most excellent tool we humans have created and they will work for years without issues IF they are set up and maintained correctly. Remember to have a tech tune-up and clean out your computer at least once every 6 months and Happy Computing!