A computer gone haywire can ruin your day at the office, but just because your Online Poker website isn't loading, don't hit the fire alarm just yet. Check out the simple solutions to these common computer complications from our own IT expert.
By Bart Hipp
In this day and age getting by without a computer is hardly possible, and getting a job without some basic computer skills is just as unlikely. So what happens when you're in the middle of working on your Career Builder résumé, updating MySpace, checking out the hottie from the gym's Twitter to see what she's up to, and without warning your internet stops? Have no fear because here are a few common troubleshooting tips to resolve those pesky problems without having to call your IT guy.
These will get you back up and “working” in no time.
The Tortoise Doesn't Beat the Hare
The first key to a slow or dead internet connection is to know EXACTLY what the problem is. There's a big difference between MySpace pages taking a long time to load, and Google taking a long time to load. Where Google doesn't have much information on the main page, a basic MySpace page can contain thirty-seven videos of someone's drunken aunt lip syncing to Thriller. The latter SHOULD take a long time. A quick test for slow internet is seeing if Google loads. If it does, and does so quickly, then the problem is the web page. Your computer is fine!
If Google doesn't load then you need to find out why you don't have an internet connection anymore. Under the start menu of a Windows machine you can go to your Control Panel and open the Network Connections and see what the icons say. If it says that the connection is limited then you can right click the icon and click “Repair” and see if that helps the issue. If it says disconnected then it could be your internet provider.
If you have a router that splits the internet signal and it says connected but you still have nothing then it could be the internet provider. A great way to fix internet connections is to reset the power to everything, starting with the wall and going to the computer.
First turn everything off and then start the modem again. Once most of the lights come back on, plug in the router, and when that comes back on turn on the computer. Us IT nerds call this a “power cycle.”
If that doesn't resolve the problem you may want to call the internet provider.
“My Browser is Crashing Like a Student Driver!”
Every time I hear this complaint about browsers, I have to question when the problem started. Chances are that this issue began some time ago and you've ignored it for quite a while. The first thing a seasoned IT person will tell you to do is restart the computer. Sometimes this works and they can get you off of the phone quickly and hope that you get someone else on the line when you call back.
If a reboot doesn't fix the problem then you have another problem. Ask yourself, “What's different?”. At first you might think that's a dumb question, but honestly if nothing has changed then nothing should change. Your browser doesn't just crash without a reason. You may have installed a toolbar accidentally with an update (Yahoo and Google are notorious for this), or maybe you're trying out a new browser. Regardless, determine what has changed with the software that's crashing and go back to the way it was when it worked!
Shaken, Not Popped-up
This must be one of the single most common problems that the internet has caused with our computers. Despite what you might think, not everyone gets spyware pop-ups, and although they're relentless, there are ways to prevent them. On any PC with windows, Internet Explorer has a built in pop-up blocker that runs without you telling it to, and it does a fairly decent job. If it happens to be turned off you can turn it on using the tools menu in IE, and there are even options to customize it there.
If however the pop-up blocker is on and you're still getting those pests then you likely have some sort of spyware on your machine. Don't worry, spyware isn't always malicious, but it is always annoying. Most spyware just checks what websites you've been to and sends you advertisements based on what you look up. A great tool to help you remove this spyware is called SUPER Antispyware and it can be found at www.superantispyware.com. This scanner will check your entire computer and remove a better portion of the spyware you might encounter, and it has a fully functional version at the best price: free.
Download this and run it once a week and you shouldn't have many more problems.
Call Dr. Mario, You Might Have a Virus
Sadly if your computer is telling you that you might have a virus and to click somewhere for a free scan, then it's already too late. The message telling you that you have a virus? That is the virus and it wants to you click so that you can infect yourself with even more viruses. It's like the hot girl telling you to come over to her place to meet her friends because they would love you, and then you get there and realize that they're a crazy cult and just invited you over to convert / kill you. Pretty soon you're wearing all green and staring at a single grain of sand because it holds a message of world peace.
Luckily you have some friends grounded in reality ready to yank you from their clutches. One of them is a FREE piece of authentic antivirus software called Avast!. Download Avast! from download.com and let it run.
If it's unable to remove the virus for you immediately, it should at least give you instructions on how to start your computer in safe mode and remove it from your computer. If you don't have a second computer to use then make sure you write down those directions before you have to reboot the machine, otherwise you have to go through the process again.
Dot, Dash, Dot, Dot, Dash
I cannot stress this enough. If you get an error, a code, a strange message, or an odd window then write down what it says. Write down the EXACT message. You might think you can remember it, but you can't. Was that a dash or an underscore? Don't know? Just write it down!
Google has a vast wealth of knowledge and you can always look up any message you might get that you don't quite understand. Someone on a website somewhere has encountered the exact same problem and solved it before you. Use them and the power of the web to help you during your crisis. If all else fails and you can't find it on Google then the IT person you may have to call might know something about the message and what it means. This is what they do, and how they make a living.
Use Your Head
Common sense can go a long way in the world of computers. Don't click shady Viagra advertisements, don't send Sir Jean-Maude Loucen your bank account information so he can deposit 3 million US dollars as part of a will fulfillment, and don't click that e-mail file from the old buddy you haven't talked to in 8 months who suddenly wants you to see a video of his crazy cats.
Everyone has computer problems from time to time but they don't need to be frustrating. We can all learn from the problems, and maybe even help someone else out when they have problems themselves. Who knows, the hottie at the gym may have a problem that you know how to fix, and what better way to impress?