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.

Personally Improving Tech Service

As I’ve said many times before, the greatest value of going to conferences is talking to people. We continuously develop better networks among colleagues and voice concerns to the many techies who man the booths at expos.

One of my crusades for this year’s Ignite conference, Microsoft’s annual tech extravaganza, was to talk with the engineers from the hardware and software companies we do business with on your behalf and my IT colleagues. We get together annually and stay in touch all year long. My specific beef this year was documentation.

In one instance, I had an error message on of our clients’ system. Trying to find the resolution through the manufacturer’s documentation had me going in circles. Then, I remembered a conversation I had with one of my Ignite colleagues about a major issue he had with a piece of HP equipment. It seems that a low battery problem showed up as a “not installed” message, which left me dumbfounded because all the installation steps checked out. Resolving the battery issue resolved the “not installed” error message but having accurate documentation would have resolved the problem much faster.

I talked to Microsoft engineers about documentation for setting up encryption through Office 365. Encryption is a hassle for computer users, but it can play a key role in protecting the security of information. They admitted that documentation was a problem, and my reaction was, “What am I supposed to tell my clients?”

I’m hoping that being able to talk to engineers personally about the issues we face as IT professionals will be addressed. And with many former IT independents in my network going to work for hardware and software companies, my personal connections might help my colleagues and me get better resolutions to the issues we face. Those personal contacts will go a long way to providing you with better service.

The personal connections may prove to be even more valuable as Microsoft rolls out its new Windows 10 updates, version 1809. It has extensive updates and changes that may require tweaking for some clients, and our goal is to make your transition as seamless as possible.

If you need help with installing or tweaking new hardware and software, be sure to call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us for help. It’s likely we’ve picked up a trick or two that the documentation doesn’t cover or make clear.