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Are techies twiddling their thumbs at your expense?

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Four weeks ago, David Moore commenced his expose into the secrets of computer maintenance — rules that are carefully guarded or simply too embarrassing to share. This week, he reveals some of the reasons computer technicians do what they do.

So, you now know a bit about purchasing software and backing up. You’re probably already thinking like a computer technician. But sometimes even the most experienced computer user will wonder, “Is my hired computer technician having a lend?”

Hear are three reasons we do things the way that we do.

13. Why powering down and rebooting fixes so many problems (turning it off and on is not fobbing you off).

The old “reboot” is the butt of many jokes both inside and outside the computer community.

It seems like it is the first thing you are told to do when you encounter a problem.

That used to be the case. Believe it or not computers are actually more reliable these days.

However, you will still be told to reboot or power down your machine in many cases.

The reason for this is that every computer (and that includes things that contain computers such as cars, dishwashers, dryers, mobile phones… well almost everything really) contains software – lots and lots of software. Software is imperfect and the longer it runs the more likely it is to misbehave.

Rebooting your computer forces the software to start from scratch.

The reason that this is good, is because it is the path that the program has run most often. After all, it has to do it every time. As a result it is the path that the programmers will have tested the most and made sure that it works (if only for their own convenience during the coding process).

Hardly used functions will misbehave the most. In fact, it has been found that most people only use 5% to 8% of the functionality of any particular piece of software.

There are other reasons too, including heat, memory errors etc., but I won’t go into them here.

The point is, before you get frustrated by a misbehaving device and resort to spending money on a technician, try powering it down first. If the device has a battery or a standby mode of some sort make sure you really disconnect the power — take the battery out — and wait 5 minutes before turning the device back on.

Getting into a routine of powering down your computers and accessories every night will help avoid these creeping problems catching you out and save you money on your power bills.

14. What’s best for you is often what’s easiest for them.

Usually, there are multiple ways to solve a problem. Strangely this includes not solving the problem.

This may sound like a bad thing to you but it really isn’t.

Sometimes we computer people just can’t make the likes of Microsoft and Apple fix the problem they’ve given you.

Often we need to provide you with an acceptable workaround.

To get you going as soon as possible and with as little fuss, your computer technician should suggest simple best-of-breed solutions to bypass a problem or provide a solution. These will be, due to the inherent complexity of the computing world, the things they are most familiar with.

It is about providing you value for money and not killing ourselves in the process.

15. Getting hidden passwords and data back is often scarily easy…

…free and available to everyone.

Don’t believe me? Go here http://www.nirsoft.net/

This is just one example of many websites containing many utilities for getting around all sorts of security.

Most antivirus software will warn you that this software is a security threat if you download it.

In your hands it isn’t. In someone else’s it may well be, especially if you aren’t there when they are using it.

There are many legitimate reasons for this software to exist and to some degree the existence of this website makes those reasons self evident.

When you lose your email password do you want to:

a) Spend an hour or more on the phone to your ISP waiting for it to be reset only to have your internet then go offline because the same password lives in your modem; or,

b) Let your technician run this program and get it back for you in around 5 minutes?

I thought so.

David Moore has 25 years experience in the computer industry and is now Principle PC Hater at ihatemypc.com.au.

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