by Nathan Riley
Every profession has its own “Top 10,” from mail carriers (“Top 10 houses on my route with mean dogs”) to dermatologists (“Top 10 reasons people have bad skin”). Working an IT service desk is no different. Here are 10 common tech support issues and likely causes, in no particular order.
1. Blue Screen of Death
Many users don’t bother actually reading what’s on the infamous BSOD, so you’ll probably have to ask them to read it to you before telling them to take a deep breath and reboot (in most cases). A BSOD section on your IT help desk self-service portal can reassure users and save you time spent telling people to restart their computers.
2. I can’t log in.
This is easily one of the most common tech support issues and the causes range from the silly (the user left “caps lock” on) to potentially major (the user’s account has been suspended because he was playing Farmville all day.)
3. I accidentally deleted some files. Can I get them back?
As soon as the danger of the user hyperventilating is over, explain his or her options. Sometimes people think that once a file goes into the Recycle Bin it’s gone forever. That’s an easy fix. If they’ve emptied the Recycle Bin or “Shift-Deleted” files, they need to know to stop using that drive until the files are retrieved.
4. My computer is too slow.
A lot of people don’t see a problem with having sixteen windows open at once, and you may have to explain how too many windows will slow things down. They may have picked up malware, however, so you need to encourage them to explain exactly what happened, even if they were doing something they shouldn’t.
5. My computer shut down for no good reason.
Have you ever seen the puck-like cakes of dust that can build up on computer cooling fans? A lot of people don’t understand that their computers can overheat and that they may need to be cleared of dust periodically.
6. The printer won’t work.
Have you ever had this exchange before?
You: “Is the printer turned on?”
User: “I never had to turn it on before.”
It doesn’t occur to a lot of users to check the obvious before submitting a help desk ticket.
7. My computer is making a grinding noise.
Some hard drives are designed to make sounds when a spindle gets stuck or heads go bad. When the user admits to not having backed anything up recently, resist the urge to go to their cubicle and throttle them with a USB cable. Seriously, this is the kind of information your self-service portal should contain, letting users know that they need to stop using the machine until the problem can be properly diagnosed and fixed.
8. The internet is slow.
Spyware and viruses are two main causes of slow internet service. You’ll need your end users to be honest about sites they have visited. Assure them that you only want to know exactly what happened so you can fix it. You can always laugh at them behind their backs during your lunch break.
9. The wireless network keeps kicking me off.
While overloaded routers do happen, you’ll need your end user to check that the wireless router is securely connected. Walk end users through the process of connecting to the router, connecting to the modem, and connecting to the provider’s website.
10. My computer won’t recognize my USB device.
The obvious first step is to try the device in another USB port. Users may also check to see if other USB devices are recognized, or if their USB device works on someone else’s computer before resorting to more in-depth troubleshooting methods.