Any writer who types up their manuscript or uses a computer for research worries over annoying and time-consuming computer problems. Calling tech support can lead to an even more frustrating experience. Of course, sometimes calling tech support is necessary, but it can often be avoided by trying to resolve the issue first yourself. Here are some tips and tricks you can use to help narrow down and fix the problem.


What is the problem and where is it located? – Once you narrow down what the problem is (or at least the symptoms) and where it is you can more easily find the solution. For example, if your internet is slow (btw, this is a symptom that can be caused by a lot of different things),  make sure that it is isolated to just the internet. If your computer is also slower than usual to open other files and folders, most likely your internet connection is not the problem. It’s probably the computer. Now you know that tech support for your ISP (Internet Service Provider) isn’t going to do you much good, you will have to call tech support for your computer manufacturer.


Check your connections! – If your computer or modem isn’t turning on, or you can’t connect online, or a device isn’t working properly, it might be because something has come unplugged. Especially if you have animals, children, or things plugged in to awkward places. Check not only the power cords, but also other connection cords from the computer to the modem.


Reset the connections – Physically reset the connections. Unplug the cords and replug them in. Try restarting the computer. If all else fails, try a powercycle. Turn off the computer, unplug the power from both the computer and the modem (and your router if you have one), wait a few minutes, plug the modem back in first and wait for the lights to stop flashing, Plug back in the router (again, if you have one), then the computer. Finally turn the computer back on and see if your problem is resolved.


Run your antivirus program – Viruses cause havoc within your computer, even affecting things that aren’t normally associated with them. If you have a weird little glitch, try running your antivirus program.


Make sure everything is up-to-date – Operating system, device drivers, software for various programs and resources, Java, etc. etc. etc. Normally you get one of those little pop up messages saying “your (blank) is out of date. Click here to update now.” Sometimes you will not know something needs to be updated until it stops working. Usually computer manufacturers will have directions available to update the drivers and software that came with the computer on their websites.


What has changed? – Take note of what has changed since the last time your computer worked. Have you added a new device or program to your computer? Downloaded a new antivirus program? Have you gotten a new electronic device that might cause interference with your wireless connection?


Know your hardware – First, it makes it easier to look up specific information on your problem online. All computers can become slow, but the steps you will need to take to resolve your issue will change depending on operating system and version. If you do end up calling tech support, you will save them time by knowing what kind of computer you have and what the operating system is. Second, those blinking lights on your modem mean something. Check out the modem manufacturer’s website for troubleshooting information. Make sure you know what brand of modem you have.


Clean out your files –   Every time you go online you computer creates temporary internet files to help it access pages more quickly. After a while these start to pile up. Clutter can cause problems, so you should clean out your cookies, temp files, and history every so often. You can do it manually, or get a program like ccleaner to do it.


When in doubt, google it – There are very few problems that can come up that have not been experienced by someone else. There is a lot of free advice available online. It is also what many tech support people do when they can’t find the answer to your problem right away.