Everyone knows someone who can setup a wireless network, or printer, or laptop so Why do you need an IT guy?
I know I am biased so lets get that out of the way. I am an IT guy. It is how I make my living so of course I think you need one but now I am going to attempt to convince you. I would like to do this by asking questions and then answering them with some common solutions or troubleshooting steps. This will not be all inclusive but will get you thinking of times where an IT guy would benefit you, your family and/or your business.
1. What do you do when your computer is running slow? There are a lot of different options in this scenario. Below are some of the common ones:
- It could be your computer is really old. Maybe you bought it 7 years ago and it is just “time” to get a new one. This is the most expensive option. You need to research and buy a computer that meets your needs. You need to transfer all of your data from your old computer to your new one. You need to reinstall all of the applications you use. You need to sign in again to all of the cloud services you use like dropbox and google. Its takes time and effort and when it is not something you do on a regular basis, it takes longer than you think but sometimes it is necessary. If you are in this situation, let me help and spend time doing something you would rather do like hanging out with your family.
- It could be that your hard drive is failing or it’s using old technology. There are two “main” types of hard drives out there: Hard disk drives (or HDD) and Solid State drives (or SSD). There is also a hybrid drive but usually not worth buying. A HDD has a spinning platter(s) coated in a magnetic material and uses an “arm” with a magnetic head to read and write data on the spinning platters. This is inefficient because the data is written randomly on the disk and as it fills up it takes longer for the “arm” to find the data. A SSD is multiple banks of solid memory chips. There are no moving parts which make them much more reliable and they are 100 times faster than a HDD. Replacing your HDD with an SSD in your older computer could make it feel like new again and it’s a lot cheaper than buying a new one.
- It could be that your internet is slow and not your computer. There are several points in the chain where the breakdown could occur. The first one I would check would be your wireless router. The easiest way to test this is to disconnect the wireless router from your modem. You can tell which part this is by looking for the coaxial cable (the black round one pictured below), That is the modem. You will then see what looks like a bigger phone line cable and that is called the ethernet cable (blue one below). The ethernet able will be coming from the modem into the wireless router most likely. The wireless router should have antennas coming out of it but not always. Unplug the ethernet cable from your wireless router and plug it directly into your computer. See if your computer/internet is running slow still or did it speed up. If it sped up, you need to replace your wireless router. Wireless routers are usually made pretty inexpensively and so don’t last more than 2 to 3 years. There are exceptions of course. If your computer/internet connection is still slow, call your internet provider and they can run some tests. The modem is usually provided by them and they can replace it if need be.
2. What do you do when your printer won’t print and you have a report due in the morning? Again, there are a lot of different options in this scenario. Below are some of the common ones:
- It could be that your printer is off. Make sure it is on and try again. Seems simple but you always start by eliminating the easiest solutions. It could also be that the power supply in the printer went bad. In this case, its best to get a new printer. They are fairly inexpensive in the grand scheme of things. You can find a good one for $150 or less.
- It could be that you are out of ink/toner. Again, another simple solution but make sure that you have ink and that the cartridges are installed correctly. Also, ink cartridges can clog of the print heads and then a page might print but it will be blank. The same thing will happen if your drum on your laser printer is used up. Another thing in this area is that toner cartridges come with a pull tab that opens the toner container inside the cartridge. It’s happened where this tab has not been pulled. The ink cartridges will also have some form of tape over the holes where ink comes out.
- It could be that you are not connected to your printer. Check to make sure you have an internet connection if it is a network printer. If it is usb, unplug and plug the usb cord back in to your computer. If all else fails, restart your computer and then your printer.
3. What do you do when you need to store a lot of files (such as music, pictures, videos, and office files) in order to share them? I think some people would say “To the cloud!” but sometimes that is not the best place. Access to your files from anywhere could be a benefit you want but there are options for that while maintaining these files on site. Let’s discuss this in a few steps.
- First, you will want a on-site server to host the files on. There are many types and what you choose will depend on the features you want. The main two though are Windows and Linux. If you have a bunch of windows PCs, you may want a windows based server for central management and authentication. Windows is the most expensive option though and not all situations require this. A Linux-based NAS, or network attached storage, box works wonders for home users and office users alike who just need a central location for file storage. If you already have a windows server on-site but just need more storage, they can hook in and utilize the central management and authentication features of that server.
- Once you have decided what box to go with, you need a backup solution to protect your data. Some solutions will also provide access to this data off-site from your mobile device or laptop. Backblaze and Crashplan are two solutions that I recommend. They both provide access to your data offsite and are fairly inexpensive while easy to use. Crashplan offers some free options also. More on that in the next question.
- Last but not least we need to map all devices in the home/office to this server so that we can use all of this data! It’s the whole point right?
4. How do I get all of my files backed up so that I don’t lose it in the event of a disaster?
This is an interesting question because their are different definitions of a disaster. Most people think of it as a fire or flood but it could be as simple as your two year old knocking your cup of coffee onto your laptop. The point is, a disaster is any event that causes you to lose your data such as all of those important work files or family pictures. Think about it, most people are not printing off their photos anymore. It is all on your computer and you are not backing it up. Poof, bye bye baby pictures of your 11 year old who just went into 6th grade! “They grow up so fast” says everyone who has ever had kids. You managed to keep those pictures through 4 laptop and desktop changes but now they are gone. This is not fear mongering but a reality for a lot of us. The weird thing? Most solutions are completely free or cost very little. Google Photos will backup your phone pictures under a certain size for free. Apple iCloud backup gives you 5GB for free and 50GB for $1 per month. BackBlaze will backup your computer for $5 per month with no limit on the storage usage. Crashplan will back up to external hard drives and other computers for free. The point is to backup your data and do it before something irreversible happens.
So I think I have shown that it pays to get a reliable IT guy you can trust. It’s almost like a good mechanic right? Information Technology can be something scary but with the right help, it doesn’t have to be! My contact form is here or drop me a comment and I promise, you won’t be disappointed!