How to solve the most
common tech support problems yourself.
Try this first
I know it sounds like a no-brainer, but before you do anything else, restart
your computer. Technical support says that most of his customers solve their
problems with this simple step.
checking for operating system updates is important, because forgetting to do so
could significantly impair your PC’s performance.
you’re at it, make sure that your operating system is fully updated by running Windows Update. Neglecting updates could
deprive you of important bug and performance fixes.
having problems with a peripheral, try switching it on and off. If that doesn’t
work, try disconnecting and reconnecting the device. As a last resort, download
the latest drivers and perform a full reinstall.
My computer is too slow
The first step to fixing a slow computer is to verify that your machine is
the actual source of the problem. Videos that seem to buffer forever, and
websites that take ages to load, may not be your computer’s fault. Many people
mistakenly identify a slow system as the problem when “it’s actually not the
computer, [but] their broadband connection.”
If the problem is your PC, check whether you have plenty of free space on
the hard drive holding your operating system. Windows needs room to create
files while your system is running. If your hard drive is maxed out,
performance suffers. Now is the perfect time to clear some space. Open your
Control Panel and run “Programs and Features” (Windows). Look through the list
of installed applications and remove anything you don’t need (usually, if it
says it’s by Microsoft you should leave it installed). You can also download
“Revo Uninstaller” from various websites (Google it). Spend time uninstalling
many of the apps you don’t use. Most of the time this will speed up slow
Pop-up ads are appearing on my desktop
If you’re not running your Web browser and are still getting pop-up ads on
your desktop, you’ve most likely installed adware—a program that displays
unwanted ads. Although benevolent adware exists, most of the time adware is up
to no good. Getting rid of it isn't easy. “There’s a ton of little
system-utility tools out there that promise to clean up everything, with names
like PC Speed-up, PC Speed Pro, PC Speedifier,” “A lot of times those programs
are not going to do much. Some programs will work, others are snake oil.”
Instead, use a trustworthy adware scanner like the free version of
Malwarebyte, Adwcleaner or JRT. Another great one is the AVG rescue disk, but
this software must be burned to a CD or a USB thumb drive.
If all else fails, there’s always the nuclear option: a complete system
reinstall. It might take a long time, but it’s the only sure-fire way to remove
adware or spyware. Remember to back up all your personal files.
Google doesn’t look right
Browser hijackers are a particularly nasty breed of malware. Such programs
take over your Web browser and can stealthily redirect your Google searches and
other queries to fake pages meant to steal your personal information or to
further infect your system.
Running a real-time antivirus utility is the best way to stay safe. If your
browser has already been hijacked, uninstall the browser and use your antivirus
program in conjunction with Malwarebytes to remove the intruder. In many cases, doing this automatically using
removal tool may fail. In this case, we suggest you go to a site such as
“bleepingcomputer.com”, become a member, read the instructions for new users,
and post a new thread asking for help.
I keep seeing ‘There is a problem with this
website’s security certificate’
Sometimes the biggest problems have the easiest fixes. According to support
technicians, the lion’s share of issues are due to an incorrect system clock.
Website security certificates sync up with your computer’s clock. Old
computers in particular run the risk of having a dead CMOS battery—the watch
battery in your computer that keeps its system clock ticking. Click the clock
in the system tray and select Change date and time settings to correct any
My printer won’t print
Let’s assume that your printer’s drivers are up-to-date, and that it has
enough paper and ink or toner to print. Try turning the printer off and on.
Unplug the printer and plug it back in. Check your printer’s print queue by
looking for the printer icon in Devices and Printers, and double-clicking it.
The print queue shows you the status of each job as well as the general status
of your printer. Empty the queue by canceling each job. Ensure that ‘Use Printer Offline’ isn’t
checked. Sometimes, printing while your printer is turned off can cause Windows
to set your printer to work offline, and that can stall jobs sent later.
Check to make sure your desired printer is set to be the default printer
(the driver icon should have a check mark on it). Lastly, check the printer
properties and make sure you are using the correct port. If your printer is a
network printer, it will use an IP address as the port. You need to check and
make sure the IP address in the printer is the same as the address in the
driver. Do this by checking the printer’s menu for network settings, and find
tcp settings, and look for the IP address. Compare it to the one listed in your
printer driver. If they are not the same, consult your printer user’s manual
and change the IP address to match the printer driver. Also make sure, in the
tcp and IP settings for your printer, you turn DHCP off, auto off, and select
IP address to MANUAL. If you don’t do this, the next time the printer powers
off and back on, it may change the IP address again.
I can’t open email attachments
If you have ever encountered an attachment that you couldn’t open, it was
probably because you didn’t have the software necessary to view the file.
The usual suspect is the .pdf file, for which you can download a free PDF
reader such as Adobe Reader or Adobe Acrobat. If your problem involves a
different file format, a quick search on the attachment’s file extension (the
three letters after the period in the filename) should tell you what type of
program you need. Common ones are .doc for Microsoft Word, and .xls for
Microsoft Excel which are both a part of Microsoft Office. If the attachment
lacks a file extension (which might happen if it was renamed), adding it back
should set things right.