Does Not Compute: How to Seek Computer Help

If you're not wholly computer literate, it can be difficult even to ask for help with any problems you encounter. The technical language used to describe computer processes and hardware aren't always obvious, and it's easy to get frustrated. Still, all is not lost; with a few tips, you'll find it much easier to describe your problems to IT support services and to fix that frustrating issue you've been dealing with.

Give Context

Sometimes, it's difficult to diagnose a problem without understanding the wider picture of how it came about. If you're not sure exactly what the problem with your computer is, then try explaining exactly what you were doing when it occurred and why you can't continue. Some information that may help includes what other programs you had open, exactly what you last clicked on or pressed when the problem began and anything you've tried to solve the problem so far. Of course, you should remember that IT teams will often have checklists to work through, so they may ask you to try some of these things again anyway — including the infamous 'turn it off and on again'.

Replicate the Error

If your computer is not frozen or badly broken and the issue you're having is more of an error message, the person assisting you will need to be able to replicate the problem in order to fix it. As such, make sure you know exactly what causes the problem — or how to make it appear, even if you're not sure why. Sometimes, just trying again might work. If that's the case, it's much better to know this now than when an IT support professional tries it!

Visuals Will Help

If you don't know exactly how to describe your problem and the IT expert assisting you doesn't seem to know what you're referring to, then you can always rely on visual aids to help you. Find the print screen button on your keyboard; this will take an image of your screen. You can right-click and paste this into a program like Paint or Paintbrush — that way you can save it and send it to the person helping you. If this doesn't work, or if your computer is frozen, taking a clear photograph of the screen with your phone may be a good alternative.

Computers can be frustrating even when they're functioning perfectly well, so preparing yourself adequately for the times that they don't is very important. Armed with these tips, hopefully the situation will be a little easier to navigate.