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How to Talk to a Tech

Discussion in 'Tech Tutorials and News' started by Valerie Johnston, Sep 27, 2013.

  1. Valerie Johnston

    Valerie Johnston Techie7 New Member Techie7 Editor

    If you’re on a Windows computer and you happen to be getting tech support over the phone, the following information should help you to make the experience a lot easier on you and the tech. First, be aware that not knowing the actual meaning of some commonly used computer terms is a problem that plagues users of every experience level. People tend to use the wrong word for the wrong thing all the time. Keep this guide handy if you need tech support, as it’ll help you clarify what your problem is for the tech and help them vastly when they try to troubleshoot for you.

    My Memory Is Low!

    Memory specifically refers to RAM in the vast majority of instances when the term is used. RAM is random access memory, and you can think of it as the storage space or scratch paper for your computer. When you open up a program, it’s stored in the RAM and, as you open up more programs, you have less RAM to work with.

    Do not confuse this with file storage, which is a common mistake. People sometimes referred to their hard drive as their memory. Your hard drive is a permanent form of file storage, which differs from RAM in many ways. They are separate hardware and they should not be confused with one another. If your hard drive is full, you are not running out of memory, you are running out of file storage space.

    My Computer Crashed

    A computer crash and a computer freeze or hang are different things. When your computer crashes, it usually means that you either get a blue screen with white text on it and that you have to shut down your computer and start it up again to make it work at all. When your computer freezes or hangs, it means that a program won’t respond, the screen just goes dead and, essentially, is about as useful as wallpaper. Sometimes you can move your mouse but cannot interact with any of the programs. A frozen computer is usually doing something and cannot complete that task. A crashed computer has utterly, completely and catastrophically failed and either gave you that blue screen – which is called the blue screen of death – or completely shut down without you touching a button. Know the difference and your tech will be able to help you a lot more quickly.

    Figure 1: The Blue Screen of Death. Source: Microsoft.com

    Windows vs. Office vs. Internet vs. etc.

    A lot of people will ask for tech support for problems such as, paraphrasing: their Internet went down, their Windows doesn’t work or their Office doesn’t work. Quite frequently, they’re referring to the wrong thing and end up initiating a long troubleshooting process that goes nowhere because they didn’t give the tech the right information. Here is a cheat sheet to help you.

    Windows: Windows is an operating system under which all of your other programs operate. Office operates within Windows.

    Internet: Internet actually refers to the network itself. If your Internet really went down, it means that you can’t connect to the Internet but that your computer is probably working fine. If your Internet browser is having problems, then tell the tech that specifically. For example, if your Internet Explorer froze up, don’t tell the tech that your Internet is frozen. Your tech will think that means something completely different than a browser problem.

    Microsoft Office: Microsoft Office is an office suite that operates in the Windows operating system and on other operating systems. Microsoft makes both products but only one of them is Windows. Do not confuse the two, because, again, you’re going to send the tech off on a wild goose chase if they take your word for it that Windows has a problem when it was actually Microsoft Office that had the problem.

    Be Patient

    If your tech drags you through a step-by-step process that you’ve already tried, understand that they need to do this. They need to start from the beginning and, even if you did a bit of trouble shooting yourself, just be patient and let them do their own troubleshooting. Sometimes, you may find that you made a mistake in troubleshooting or that you were troubleshooting the entirely wrong thing, and that’s what techs are really there to help you deal with.