tech tips for writers

Tech Tips for Writers #172: 3-step Solution to Computer Problems

tech tips for writersTech Tips for Writers is an occasional post on overcoming Tech Dread. I’ll cover issues that friends, both real-time and virtual, have shared. Feel free to post a comment about a question you have. I’ll cover it in a future Tip.

Q: I’m not a techie. I use my computer mostly for email and the internet. Are there easy first steps I can try when everything goes wrong? Please don’t make it complicated or geeky!

There are three steps you should ALWAYS try before calling the experts. These will fix the problem about half the time and are within everyone’s skillset. Oh–do these in order:

Step One: Turn it off; turn it on

This also works for lots on non-computer problems (like the TV, the modem, even your car). Turn the computer off. Wait ten seconds. Turn it on and let it go through its start-up cycle. If that didn’t work, go to Step Two.

Step Two: Run a virus check.

Finding your virus program is as easy as going to Search and typing in ‘virus check’. Or ask Siri to find it. It may be an email brought with it a virus. This will walk you through the usually-simple steps of removing that. If that didn’t work, go to Step Three

Step Three: Google it.

I see your face. You think this is too techie. Here’s an example. My husband trundled upstairs and dropped his computer in my lap last week mumbling about his mouse being wonky. It was. Bless his heart, he already went through Step One and Two. Well, I repeated them and then Googled exactly what he had told me the problem was–“My mouse is wonkie on my Surface Pro.” Within ten seconds, I had five solutions. Within a minute, we fixed the wonky mouse.

So, the corollary to Step Three–Google it–is have a friend hold your hand while you do this, as my husband did with me.

Now, there is a Step Four which works amazingly well if your problem occurred immediately after a system update but it’s a bit geeky. If you’re feeling brave, read on.

Step Four: Uninstall the Windows Update

You find Windows Updates by typing that phrase into the Search bar. Then go to ‘View Update History’ ‘View Installed Updates’, and then pick the most recent update and remove it. Some updates–though not addressing your problem–gunk up the computer with their drivers and stuff and that causes whatever your problem was.

OK. What do you think? Am I in the weeds with this post?

More TechTips for Writers:

11 Bits of Wisdom I Learned From a Computer

Top 10 (Tech) Tips for Writers in 2018

My Favorite 5 Tech Tools for Writers

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the Man vs. Nature saga. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Quest for Home, Fall 2019. You can find her tech ed books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning


94 thoughts on “Tech Tips for Writers #172: 3-step Solution to Computer Problems

  1. Pingback: Favorite Tech Tips for Writers |

  2. Pingback: Top 10 Posts — and Most Commented — for 2021 |

  3. Pingback: Tech Tip #172: Create series on Goodreads | WordDreams...

  4. Pingback: Top 10 Posts — and Most Commented — for 2020 | WordDreams...

  5. Pingback: Make Your Own Digital Bookshelf | WordDreams...

  6. Pingback: Tech Tips for Writers #171: Turn Your 2-in-1 into a Tablet When Flying | WordDreams...

  7. Pingback: Tech Tips for Writers #171: Turn Your 2-in-1 into a Tablet When Flying – Today's Author

  8. Pingback: Top 10 (Tech) Tips for Writers in 2019 | WordDreams...

  9. Pingback: #AuthorToolboxBlogHop: Great Internet Shortkeys | WordDreams...

  10. Step one always makes me think of the IT Crowd: ‘Have you tried turning it off and on again?’ Thankfully it usually works 😀

    I think I disabled Windows Updates a while ago on my laptop because there was an issue with the, then latest, update, and forgot to re-enable it. Oops!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Jacqui, reading your post was delightful. My husband is a lot like mine. I’m the one who updates his CCleaner because he gets frustrated doing it. I copied your 4 steps and will be sending them to my husband via email even though he’ll probably always ask me to do them.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. These are great tips, Jacqui, and so simple that we sometimes forget. I guess the computer sometimes needs some downtime, even if only for a few seconds – just like us. A nanna nap. 🙂
    A wonky mouse amuses me. Reminds me of the children’s picture book ‘The Wonky Donkey’. Do you know it?

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Excellent tips Jacqui, and I know because I’ve been through all 4, lol. And I have a surface pro that has been possessed since the last update in the Mercury Retrograde, and Google Chrome extension has been a nightmare.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. I’m proud to say that I do all 4 steps, save for when the update was done to windows. That time I had my brother return me to the previous version – windows 7 and stayed there for a few years. I’m using 10 now, and am in no hurry to update that one – I’ll take in technology slowly. When people get to win 22, i’ll update to 17.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Tech tips for a tech moron like me! The only one I already knew was to turn the computer off and then on. My second step used to be to yell down the hall for one of my sons to come help. Now it’s a phone call to one of those adult sons. Thanks for tips that might reduce the calls to them.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Oh my gosh, have you ever watched “The IT Crowd”? It’s a British comedy and centres on the 3 members of the IT department of a company. They answer the phone with “Have you tried turning it off then on again” and get so sick of saying it they set up an answering machine to say it instead. Your first point took me straight there =)

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Google has saved me a lot of frustration when it comes to computer problems. When I can’t figure it out, I call upon my son because he can usually have things fixed within a short time.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Step zero: Make sure it’s plugged in or the battery is charged and it’s turned on.

    Recently an engineer on my team told me his monitor wasn’t working and he’d tried everything to fix it. I went to his cube and pressed on the ‘on’ switch. Magic.

    and I am unable to call an expert. Sadly when I ask for a computer expert most people point to me.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. That’s the extent of my knowledge, too.

    My husband’s cousin is a computer genius. He co-founded Cisco Systems. The first time I met him (this was in the 1990s, so bear with my ignorance), we were talking about computers, and I told him I was having trouble with mine. He asked if I unplugged it, and I said yes. (At this point, I should note my husband was behind him, facing me, frantically gesturing for me to stop talking. Which, of course, I did not.) Richard then said a bunch of stuff I didn’t understand. When I told him so, he said, “But I thought you unplugged it. Didn’t you do any of this afterward?” To which I replied, “What does pulling a plug out of the wall have to do with… whatever you just said.” He looked crestfallen. My husband broke into laughter, poorly covered by a fake cough.

    Richard meant unplugging boards or cards or something inside the machine.

    That’s an embarrassing memory that sticks with you. And twenty-some years later, I don’t know anything more than I did then.

    Liked by 3 people

  20. Jacqui,

    Good tips! Knock on wood but ever since we moved over to Apple computers, we don’t have near the troubles as we did with the Microsoft operating system. Restarting one’s computer can fix a lot of problems. That trick even works on smartphones. 😉 Thanks for sharing. Have a great week, my friend!

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Jaqui, your post makes me laugh. I desperately call a tech friend when in trouble and avoid updates unless they are necessary. If it works well, why bother.
    There are no ” real life people ” to talk to. 😊.
    Lazy me.


    Liked by 2 people

    • No problem with calling for help at all! Often, thanks to these sorts of steps, they’ll be able to solve it for you quickly.

      I will push back on the updates a bit. Many of them are for security reasons. Better to have those installed.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. Great tips, Jacqui! 😀 If anyone in the house has any tech issues my first go-to is turn it off and on again! Once at work many years ago I called tech support as the computer didn’t work. They asked for me to check it was plugged in! Frustrated and quite convinced it was of course plugged in, I clambered under the desk but lo and behold … found the plug lying on the floor. Taken out by a cleaner of the weekend! Oh, my embarrassment! 😞 Goggle can be great for solving a lot of issues … glad your husband’s mouse problem was quickly sorted. Have a great week! 😀

    Liked by 3 people

What do you think? Leave a comment and I'll reply.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.