How many times have you heard this reply when you call IT support “Hello IT support , Have you switched your PC on and off , is your PC plugged in?” or the worst when you don’t even reach a person and you have to listen to pan flute hits of the seventies .
I am going to provide you with some tips to avoid the above mentioned and make your IT experience a bit more bearable.
What happens quite often when a PC fault is logged is that the user (You) cannot explain the fault in a manner that makes sense to the IT technician (the user is not communicating in fluent Geek). This can be solved by getting to know a few simple things about your PC.

Get to know your hardware, knowing the name and function of a few ports on your PC:

The following ports sends video outputs to your screen, there can be multiple screen outputs on your PC; you can use any one of them to connect to your screen

HDMI is the new standard for HD video, it not only sends video, but is capable of handling audio and networking.

The technical name of the normal network port is the RJ45 port. You can check if you have network connectivity by just checking if the two lights on the port are flickering.

Wireless networking
Most note books have wireless network cards built in; this is represented by the following logo

Keyboard and mouse
These are called PS2 ports, they can be found on older PCs, most of these ports have been replaced by USB keyboards and mouses.

This is a layout of speaker connections with surround sound capabilities, these can come in a six-port configuration and a three port configuration, the three most important ports are:
Green: Speakers or headphones
Blue: Line in (You can input any sound device in this port to record audio)
Pink: Microphone

The USB port is a multifunctional port that can support many devices.

The new generation of USB port is the USB 3 port; this port can transfer data faster if used with a USB 3 supported device. This port can be recognised by its blue colour.

Printer ports
Old parallel

New USB printer connections

Some other ports you may come across
ESATA, this port can be used to connect external hard drives, and has very high-speed transfer capabilities.

Serial Port, these are very old ports and most of them have been replaced by USB – some older technologies still use these to communicate with hardware.

Mini and Micro USB connections are being used more often these days on mobile phones’ external hard drives and almost any smart device. These are not usually found on PCs but it’s good to know what they look like and what they are called.


Operating systems
Most companies use Windows as their operating system, so I will mention a few tips about Windows operating systems.
It’s always good to know which version of Windows you have installed on your system before you call IT support. You can check this by right clicking on “My Computer” in the “Start” menu, then you select “Properties” and all information about your PC and Windows will be displayed.

Always make sure you can access “Task Manager” – this will enable you to stop programs that have frozen or processes that are slowing down your PC. This can be accessed by right clicking on the task bar and selecting “Task Manager”.

Applications are the programs that are installed on your computer; the most commonly used is the Microsoft Office package. This is a very comprehensive group of programs that covers most office needs. These systems do not cause problems very often and they are almost never the culprit when something fails on your PC. Please note that there are a lot of settings for the different programs that need to be set up 100% for all the Office programs to function optimally. IT support could use your inputs here since they would need to adjust these settings according to your needs.

Companies cannot work without network connectivity these days, so ensuring your PC is connected could save you some frustration and the IT tech some time. A quick way to check if you are connected to the network is to open network connections icon on your Task bar – here you will be able to see if your Local Network connections are active or not.

The icon will have a red cross over it if the network cable is disconnected or faulty, it will have a Yellow exclamation over it if there is a configuration problem. Mentioning the state of your network to IT support will make it a lot easier to pinpoint your fault. Your Internet connections will also be displayed here, and you will also be able to see their status in this window.

Getting the correct message to IT saves time and frustration for both parties. Try and describe the problem with the correct terms and names, don’t call them thingies. I just mentioned a few common names of ports, if you don’t know the term or name just ask, or better, Google it!

Sometimes it’s not even necessary to call IT; you can solve the problem yourself.

Always try the following before you log a fault:
1 Restart the PC – It works 90% of the time.
2 Make sure all your cables are plugged in properly and working – you don’t know what the cleaner did or the last person who walked past your desk.
3 If it’s an application that’s hanging, use Task manager to stop it, and try loading it again.
4 Check the status of your network connection.
5. If the PC displays an error message take a screen shot of it (press the Screen Print button and you can paste it in an email and send it directly to your IT support).

When do you really have to call IT support?
1 Your PC is not turning on at all.
2 If you restart your PC and it is not loading Windows.
3 The PC is displaying a blue error screen.
4 Applications keeps on giving errors when loading.
5 When your PC starts doing strange things, anything out of the ordinary, this could point to a virus infection.
6 And, of course, when smoke is coming out of your PC! (Because nothing works once the smoke is out.)

Hope these tips will save you some time and frustration, and hopefully earn you some street cred with the IT crowd!

Lucy Brazier, OBE is one of the world’s leading authorities on the administrative profession. Author of ‘The Modern-Day Assistant: Build Your Influence and Boost Your Potential’, she is the CEO of Marcham Publishing, a global force synonymous with world- ... (Read More)

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