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Top Five Easily-Fixed Computer Problems

Top Five Easily-Fixed Computer Problems

by Alan Thornton - Decatur Computer Help

In my 20 years of being the guy that helps Decatur and Avondale folks like you keep their computers running smoothly, I often see the same problems crop up again and again. Here are five common issues, suggestions about how to prevent problems and how you or an IT professional can fix them.

1. The machine won’t boot

There can be a couple of reasons for this. Power supplies can go south and need to be replaced. Sometimes hard drives can stop working - in which case you’ll want a new one and a new copy of the operating system and your programs put on the new “brain.”

The good news is that 80-90% of the time, I’ve been able to recover data - such as photos, videos, music files, text documents, spreadsheets, databases or lists - from an old drive.

2. Data was deleted by mistake

Sometimes the deleted data can be recovered from the drive, but I wouldn’t want you to count on that. The easiest solution is to use an online data backup solution like Carbonite or Mozy. There is an annual charge for this kind of service but having the data encrypted in the cloud also allows you to move that data to a new machine if you need to replace your old one. Also, in a catastrophe like a storm or a fire where your computer and your on-site backup are both destroyed, your information is still safe. Another good thing about these programs is that they do backups around the clock so that you don’t end up losing a day’s work (or a week’s or a month’s information.)

The other way to save data without a regular service charge is to automate the backup to an external hard drive that is always attached to your machine. Your automation should be a tried and true program that allows you to see the result, rather than one that changes your information into something that you cannot read. I like the free version of Syncback by 2 Bright Sparks but you might want help setting it up to make sure it is doing the job.

Also, you might want to remember that less likely that you’ll remember to keep the external drive attached for backup if you’re a laptop or tablet user as most people are these days.

3. The machine slowed down or became unusable when on the Internet

This normally happens when the computer has various virus-like problems that we refer to generally as “malware.” The malware often installs other programs on your computer and uses your Internet connection to do nasty things such as send other people spam.  This protects the bad folks by using you as a layer between them and the people who are trying to shut them down. Many people decide to take their computers back to factory settings when this happens but that can cause them to lose data. Users may also have to repurchase programs like Office or Quickbooks.

Removing the malware is usually possible for computer repair folks who’ve been fighting these sorts of problems for a while. Naturally, better protection makes is less likely that you’ll get into trouble in the first place. And, the best protection isn’t usually as expensive as the solution that often comes installed as a free trial on your new computer.

I have fixed badly-infected machines in less than an hour but preventive planning could have kept most of the problems from occurring in the first place.

4. The machine has been dropped or had liquid spilled into it and stopped working 

Sometimes parts can be replaced to help in these situations but often a good backup (see above) or copying the data from the old hard drive to a new machine is the best solution. This is especially true if the machine is more than a couple of years old.

Meanwhile, try not to move a laptop anywhere without putting it in a padded case - and please don’t leave beverages on your work surface near a laptop.

5. The computer can’t connect to the Internet

The problem can be caused by a bad network connection (wired or wireless), a problem with the modem or router (which may need to be reconfigured, replaced or simply restarted) or by a problem with the Internet Service Provider. Computer repair folks are usually pretty good at troubleshooting these problems and fixing them quickly.

Those are the big ones, but there are lots of smaller issues that can be annoying or waste your time. The best solution is to have someone you can contact to find out what to do when a problem arises. Often I log on to my clients’ computers remotely while I’m on the phone with them and show them what to do to accomplish their goals. That way they’ll know what to do the next time rather than having to call someone to fix every problem that arises. 

Just as you went to school to prepare for your career, you will want to have some help with common sense information about your computer to keep you moving forward before you encounter one of the issues above with no plan to solve the problem.

Please contact me if you have questions about any of these items or just want advice on purchasing, setting up or maintaining a computer or network.

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Alan Thornton of Decatur Computer Help has been one of Atlanta’s top-rated computer-repair companies on Angie’s List since 2003. His contact info is (404) 932-4348 and alan@decaturcomputerhelp.com.
Alan Thornton December 07, 2013 at 09:39 AM
Thanks to all of you who have contacted me about computer and other tech assistance. I'm always happy to help with information whether or not you need on site help from me at the time. I'd like to be your source for reliable technical advice. I live and work in Decatur. Alan Thornton (404) 932-4348

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