When you run a home business, you are inevitably going to run into technical difficulties. It’s the nature of things. While sometimes you will have problems which ruin your entire day, others can be fixed with little difficulty. Here are some things you can try to fix computer problems as they come up.
I fix most of my own technical problems and only rarely have to get help. Usually, that means it’s not on my end of things, such as when the internet is down. I’m helping my son build his own computer, so you will probably agree that I’m a bit more comfortable with technology than many.
Be aware that you will lose any unsaved work with many of these solutions. If your computer has frozen up, the work is often lost regardless. Taking steps to get your computer running again won’t change that.
These instructions are by no means comprehensive. They’re just advice that may help. If they make things worse, I take no responsibility for that. Don’t try anything you think will damage your devices.
Problem: Computer Is Not Responding
Try To Save All Work
Before you do anything else, try to save any open work you have. This will minimize the heartbreak of losing progress. If the program is completely frozen, you will probably not be able to save your work, but try it first to be sure.
See If You Can Figure Out Why You’re Having A Problem
Sometimes the problem you’re having is so basic, you can spot it if you pause and take a look. A window on your computer might not be responding because it’s waiting for a response in a popup that has gone behind the main window. A connection may be loose. A battery may be near to zero. Check all your windows, connections and battery levels to see what you can find.
Shut Down The Program
It’s annoying when your computer stops responding for a time. If you think you know which program is causing the problem, try closing that program. Closing excess programs can help the rest run better, and you may be able to open it right back up.
If it’s your Windows computer giving you trouble, use Control-Alt-Delete to see if you can get the Task Manager to come up. If the computer is completely frozen, this won’t help, but you can often locate the problem process in the Task Manager and end it. You can also bring up the Task Manager by right clicking on the taskbar.
The problem process may be using too much CPU, Memory or Disk. If the problem is not in a process you’re familiar with, you may not want to end it using the Task Manager. When in doubt, you can look up the process online to find out what it does. Some processes are not good to end in Task Manager, as they’re related to how your computer runs. If one of those is causing a problem, you need to restart your computer.
The problem process is usually the one you’re using. Web browsers freeze up sometimes, especially if you have a lot of tabs open. Other programs can freeze as well, because that’s how computers are some days. Hopefully your work is saved often enough that you don’t lose much progress.
Turn It Off, Then On Again
You can solve many problems can by turning the device off, then on again. There’s a reason why many tech support people have you try this first. Try it on your device. Try first for the normal shut down routine. If that doesn’t work, try the power button. If that doesn’t work, unplug it. If it has a battery and unplugging is irrelevant, swear profusely. Swearing won’t help your device, but it might ease some tension.
Actually, if it’s battery powered and being difficult about shutting down, try holding down the power button. It may take several seconds, but I’ve never had that fail.
Tech support will usually tell you to wait anywhere from 5-30 seconds before restarting. That’s only necessary some of the time. I make sure the computer is fully shut down and the fan isn’t running before I restart.
Problem: Printer Is Not Responding
My kids use our printer far more often than I do, but I still have to troubleshoot it sometimes. Ours gets fussy at odd times, and we usually see a message about the printer not responding as we hear it printing.
Check Print Queue
Open up the print queue for your printer and see if there are any jobs ahead of the one you’re trying to do. Sometimes it will be stuck on a previous job. Ours has been known to hold old jobs for days before the kids tell me that they’ve been having trouble. Cancel all the old jobs before adding any new ones.
We sometimes get a message that another computer is using the printer. We have four computers, so this would be reasonable if it weren’t for the fact that no one else has ever been using the printer at that time. The only thing that works for my printer with this problem is to shut it down using the power button, then unplug, pause, replug and turn it back on. This takes a few minutes, but is faster than just unplugging and replugging the printer because it gets whiny if it’s not shutdown correctly. I have to acknowledge the improper shutdown before it wants to do anything.
Check The Printer
The printer may be low on ink, be out of paper, or have a paper jam. Usually the print manager or print queue will alert you to this.
If the ink is low, try cancelling the print and submitting it again. Some printers lie about when they’re low on ink and you can still get some perfectly good prints out of them before changing the cartridge. This may save you from having to dash out for more printer ink. I prefer to order cheap printer ink from Amazon because we aren’t printing things for the long term here. I have yet to have any of it damage my printer, but that is a possibility, so take the chance only if you’re willing.
If the paper is out, put in more paper. I hope this could have gone without saying.
If the paper is jammed, figure out the various places you can open the printer to remove the jammed paper. There’s usually a place to open it up in the back, as well as removing the paper cartridge.
Problem: No Internet Connection
Here’s a problem that is often on your end and easy to fix, but otherwise you will have to call for help.
If you’re using wifi, make sure you have a good wifi connection. You should be able to see it on the taskbar. If you aren’t close enough to your router, of course you won’t have a connection. If you need wifi in more of your home, look into a range extender.
Windows can handle some troubleshooting for you. Right click on your wifi icon and select Troubleshoot problems. This won’t always give you an answer, but it might.
If you’re using a wired connection, make sure it’s well connected at your computer and the router. Kids, pets and time can loosen connections.
The next thing to do if you have no internet connection is restart your router. For most, the easiest way to do this is unplug the router, pause and plug it back in. It may take several minutes before you know if you have a connection again. It’s so easy I’ve given my older kids permission to do this. So far they always forget that option and wait for me. You can also try unplugging the power and disconnecting the cable, then reconnecting both.
If this doesn’t work, it’s time to call your internet provider. Pay attention to any parts you could have handled on your own for future reference. The equipment can vary quite a bit, so I’m not going to get too specific here, but there are other things you can do on your own on most equipment. The less often you have to sit on hold with your ISP, the better.
If your home phone goes through the same service as your internet, you are probably better off calling your internet provider from your cell phone. Shutting down some of your equipment will also shut off the house phone, which will terminate the call. Then you have to hope that they will call you back, or call in again knowing that you might have to start troubleshooting all over.
Problem: Computer Runs Slow
Now here’s one you could damage your computer with, so be very, very careful. The benefits can be worth it.
Open the Task Manager on your Windows computer. That can be found by hitting Control-Alt-Delete, as described above or by right clicking on the taskbar. Select the Startup tab.
Do not disable programs you don’t understand. You will mess up how your computer runs. However, if you have programs such as Spotify, Steam, QuickTime and so forth, you probably do not need them to run at startup. When in doubt, do a search online and find out if the program is safe to remove from startup. Once again, don’t do this if you aren’t certain it’s safe.
Limiting what runs at startup can speed your computer up quite a bit. There are many programs and apps that like to add themselves to your computer’s startup that do not need to be turned on before you start using them. They slow the entire system down by doing this.
You will need to restart after this.
Problem: Computer Is Making Noises
Sometimes your computer gets noisy, and it’s not an ad or video playing in the background. It may just be that it needs a good cleaning.
This is one of those things you have to be careful about, especially if you have a warranty and don’t want to void it. Do not do anything that will void an active warranty.
Desktop computers are not difficult to open up for most people. There are some good instructions here. I usually just follow the dusting instructions – it’s rarely necessary to remove and reseat cards. If you’re feeling ambitious or things look that bad, follow the instructions carefully. You will need some canned air and a small paintbrush at the very least.
I also use canned air to clean out keyboards, just along the surface. I don’t open them up – just blow the air along the lines of the keys. This won’t do a perfect job, but it will get some of the gunk out. This is usually enough to get it working pretty well again.
Now if your kids have been eating Nerds at the computer and drop some into the keyboard, well, I hope you have better luck cleaning those out than I did. The big ones are difficult to get out and get in the way of the keys. Better to make sure the kids don’t eat at the computer, especially anything that can drop small bits into the keyboard or other parts. Lucky for my kids, we had a spare keyboard.
If you want to clean the surfaces of the keyboard, spray a cleaner lightly onto a microfiber cloth and wipe the keyboard down. Don’t spray directly onto the keyboard – you do not want a lot of moisture there. It might work its way down to the electronic parts and damage them.
Problem: Popup Ads
Frequent popup ads on your computer can be a sign of adware on your system. They’re also annoying. It’s time to give your system a solid malware scan.
The first thing to try on a Windows computer is Windows Defender, which comes built in on current systems. It does pretty well these days. You can also try other reputable brands, such as Bitdefender or Malwarebytes. Be very careful what malware scanner you use, as many will cause more problems than they solve. Stick to the quality companies.
Run a full scan. A quick scan is faster, but it won’t catch everything, and when you have a problem you want it handled right, not fast.
Do not run two malware scanners at once. They will give each other trouble. You should have one always on, and you can choose to have an on demand scanner as well.
I hope these solutions will help you with some of the basic problems you can face with your equipment when running a home business. Knowing how to handle the basics can save you a lot of time on the phone or with your computer in the shop.