Doctor Digital, what do I do when my [insert device/platform] needs fixing? Help!
Doctor Digital Says
One of the most frequent questions Digital Ready Coaches get is about how to fix something that has gone wrong. Might be a busted Facebook Pixel, or photos loading badly, or some device isn't talking to another, or a software installation or connectivity issue. Moments of technology failure tend to produce panic and a need to just get it fixed NOW! In the spirit of enabling and making sure you have all the tools you need to do some self triage, the Doctor is in to give you some tips on troubleshooting so you can become your own techspert.
We all know the helpdesk humor of 'have you turned it off and on again?' There is truth in this meme and it is a good first step as often that is what is required to fix whatever little glitch is going on. Likewise if it is software related, a reboot, log out and log in or update is a good initial investigation into the problem. The next step is to identify the problem. This sounds simple (it doesn't work!) but to be able to fix it, you need to rule out what it isn't. Start with the obvious ones, power source, the internet is working, no notified outage for software, apps, power, caps lock on etc.
Once you have determined what isn't broken, time to go to the source. Whatever it is that you have, a device and/or software, head over to the webpage of the brand or manufacturer. Look at their FAQ's, see if there is a helpdesk to call, download a manual to see what is suggested. Most companies will have support for their products/services and it is unlikely that what you are experiencing is unique, you might just find what you are looking for is only a couple of clicks away.
One of the great benefits in a digital world of niche experts is that there are millions of how-to videos, forums and blogs available for just about anything. YouTube, Reddit and Google are fantastic resources. Type in the problem you are having - my [insert brand] POS won't load up for example, and press search. There will be a stack of responses by people who have had the problem you are facing and you can use their experience and wisdom to help you out of a stressful situation. This will also help you identify if there have been other users with issues, and whether there are known problems.
Once you have some additional clues to what is going on, then you can keep troubleshooting until you get a result. If you are engaging with online forums, it helps to have some screenshots that identify things like error messages, some details on the brand and model or version of what you are dealing with, as these nuances can help get to the problem faster. The majority of issues can be resolved by using this method of identifying the problem and then looking for solutions.
Don't be put off if you aren't 'technical' - you just need to be curious, patient, and follow the trail of information. If your device or service is truly busted and you have exhausted all avenues, then it is worth looking at your sales documents/warranties to see if you are eligible for a replacement, or contact the vendor to see what opportunities there are for repair and whether it is worth it or not.
Using a process like this is also proactively helpful in the purchasing phase - checking out the device, model, system or software you are interested in, looking at user reviews, tech reviews and seeing what some of the pros and cons are. You might want to steer clear of anything which seems to be temperamental or complex or has poor service and support.
What you won't expect is the feeling of elation you will get from solving a problem yourself, which makes all the frustration worth it when humans conquer the machines. So next time you are about to throw your tech out the window, take a deep breath and follow the steps above.