As an IT professional, I deal with a lot of technical issues on a daily basis. Things go wrong for a myriad of reasons and there are any number of possible solutions, but there are definitely a few tips you can follow to avoid landing at your IT person’s desk.
Here are 7 tips anyone can use to become a better IT user at work and home.
1. Enter at your own risk
More problems stem from Internet-related baggage than anything else. Going to unsecured websites, opening email that is from someone you don’t know, or clicking on links and ads that appear on webpages can all download harmful software to your computer. Being mindful of the places you go digitally can help keep you from accidentally downloading something that you don’t want. A lot of times this software just causes more ads and pop-ups on your computer, but sometimes it can be very devastating. Malicious software can capture information that you send out through the Internet, including bank and/or credit card information. The website where you shared personal information may be secure, but the software hidden on your computer may have bigger plans.
2. Don’t save your passwords
I know! It seems impossible to avoid, but saving your passwords (digitally or in written form) is just as bad as not having a password. Better yet, you should be changing passwords regularly to ensure security. Saving your passwords can open access to your personal and financial information online. Just as bad as saving passwords is keeping easy-to-guess passwords. Using your name, or the name of a family member, or an important date in your life can all be easy to guess for someone that knows even the slightest bit about you. Be creative!
This advice is as old as computers, but people still forget. When things go wrong, the first thing you should do is restart your computer. Restarting stops programs that are running, including the ones running in the background, and resets everything that has been changed but not saved. Restarting can resolve many problems, and it saves a lot of troubleshooting time.
4. Google is your friend
If restarting doesn’t resolve your issue, go to Google. Type in what your device is doing (or not doing) and see what the results are. I’ll let you in on a secret… IT professionals don’t always know the answers right away, but they know Google does.
5. Updates help
It’s shocking how many people I know that don’t run updates on their devices. Whether it be your computer, tablet, or smartphone, all software will release updates at some point. Running updates regularly can fix so many issues, and keep you from getting new issues in the future.
That’s right: experiment. This sounds scary at first, and things can certainly go wrong, but the easiest way to learn how something works or what something does is to try it. Don’t worry – your IT person can probably tell you what went wrong, why it went wrong, and how to accomplish what you were hoping for in the first place. It’s a great way to expand your tech knowledge.
7. Never tell a lie
One time I was helping a colleague with his computer screen which had “mysteriously” blanked out. An hour after troubleshooting every possible cause, he confessed he spilled a whole glass of water down the front of it. Had I known that from the start, I could have had a brand new screen up and running in less than an hour and not wasted so much time. Bad call. If you do need assistance from an IT professional, just tell him or her exactly what the problem is. Trust me, they’ve seen it all.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, let me tell you an important technology tip for the workplace – be extra nice to your technology support staff! They’re a busy crew in any size organization, but they can drop everything and save your day when you least expect and most need it. A smile and a thank you will go a long way!