Tech DIY: Our Equivalent of Calling the Plumber or Electrician

I can clean out a drain trap and change a light switch. But when I try to do something more, it usually winds up costing more than if I had called the plumber or electrician in the first place. It’s the same with your technology. There are some things you can do yourself, but there are things you shouldn’t touch.

To continue the plumber and electrician analogies, let’s look at some worst-case scenarios. When you do your own plumbing, you could break a pipe and flood all or part of your house – and maybe damage walls, floors and/or ceilings. But you’ll still have your house. With electricity, you could trip a circuit breaker – or shock or electrocute yourself or cause a short that starts a fire and…

In some ways, doing your IT can result in losing all your data, which is the electronic equivalent of burning down your home. Of course, you can back up your data in a secure, offsite location and replicate your system. You probably don’t have a full-size replica of your home or office stashed somewhere else.

So, what are some things you can do? You can download and set up apps, such as a password manager. You know all your passwords, and you can work your way through the setup process to take advantage of the random-generated passwords that make the apps work best. But if things look like they’re getting complicated, you can always call us for guidance or walk-through help.

What are some things we believe you should never do?

Never do anything that involves your website DNS, and don’t switch from one host company to another by yourself. The DNS info is at the heart of keeping your website on the internet, and one mistake can knock you offline. We can help you recover from a mistake, but in addition to the cost of our service, you’ll also pay the opportunity cost for lost business time. Another thing to keep in mind is that when you switch website hosting companies and something goes wrong, each party will claim it’s the other party’s fault. We can make sure that together we all follow the proper procedures to make the switch as seamlessly as possible.

Router changes are another task you shouldn’t do yourself. The biggest dangers are leaving open a port that can lead to security issues or not setting it up properly to manage other remote desktop capabilities.

Even buying a new computer can have pitfalls. With so many configurations available (processors, RAM, hard drive type and size, etc.), it can be difficult if not impossible to match up the right “package” for your needs.

One client experience illustrates the problems that can arise. Our client asked for help with transferring files from the old computer to the new one and assured us the hard drive had “more than enough space – more than I’d ever use.” It was a 128 GB hard drive, and after transferring app and data files, we had 30 GB of free space. However, the client also had 80 GB of music files to transfer. The problem could be fixed, but a lot of extra cost could have been avoided.

We can help make your technology life easier. Call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us when problems arise or if you want to change, add or reconfigure any part of your system. We can help you with advice or with doing the work you need. As the car mechanic said in that Fram oil filter commercial of many years ago, “You can pay me now or pay me later.” My plumber and electrician tell me the same thing.