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Saturday, June 17, 2023

Simple Solutions for Common Tech Problems

Tech problems plague all of us sooner or later, but you can quickly become a guru at defensive and offensive moves to make yourself, or those you love, less vulnerable.

If you’ve ever had your computer quit on you, been victimized by a scam, or had a device hacked, then you know how expensive these problems can be. But what if you knew how to prevent some problems, and fix others, with a little know-how and sometimes, some inexpensive equipment? You will thank yourself again and again for mitigating headache-inducing tech problems before they happen, or using simple fixes to make devices work, or work better.

  • Deter Hackers and Scammers. Bad actors may try to take over your Facebook account or ask for money over the phone. Don’t make it easy for them. Protect accounts with multi-factor authentication. Update passwords by changing any that have been reused or compromised and use a password manager to keep track of them. Read the Washington Post Scam 101 Guide to keep up with the latest fraud tactics. Share them with parents and children.

Try This First to Fix Your Computer

If your computer quits working or quits working well, you can feel panicked and desperate. You need it now, and you don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars. Before you run to the nearest computer store, try these quick fixes to get your laptop operating smoothly.

First, turn it off and then on again. You’d be surprised how many times your problem will be gone. Here’s how to restart your computer the right way.

Try clearing the cache of your browser. This erases the record of the last pages you’ve visited that gets stored on your hard drive. 

Next, run a scan for viruses and malware. Your anti-viral software should have warned you about any problem, but check to be sure.

Delete the cookies in your browser. Cookies are tiny files that can inhibit optimal performance.

Finally, if the problem is related to a specific program, you can uninstall and reinstall the software on your Mac or PC

  • Help Seniors Avoid Future Problems. Make sure their devices are running the latest software, and that they update automatically. Check passwords like you did for your own hardware. Find a local store they can go to if they have problems. Set up screen sharing so you can troubleshoot no matter where you are. 
  • Increase Online Privacy. Read this online privacy guide to determine what settings you can change. Remove personal data from Google searches. Scrub your information from the internet wherever it makes sense. 

Quick and Cheap Device Fixes

Sometimes all you need is a little bit of tech or know-how to make what you have work better. Save a bundle of money with these four tech tips for common devices. 

Computer crashing? Do movies suddenly quit streaming? You don’t need a new router or extender, or even a better internet service plan. Get a cat 6 ethernet cable that plugs directly into your router on one end and your computer on the other. Even the longest 150’ cable is less than $31, a whole lot cheaper than other options.

Computer slowing down? You don’t need to buy a new laptop when you can solve the problem with a flash drive for about $10. Just transfer large files onto the flash drive, a removable storage device about the size of a pack of gum. 

Key fob not working after you replaced the battery? It’s likely the contacts have gotten dirty. Moisten a cotton swab with isopropyl alcohol, available for a few dollars at any drugstore, and gently rub the gold squares or circles that touch the battery. 

Furnace acting up? A faulty thermostat can cause your furnace to shut off too early or not work at all. Before you call in the pros, try replacing the batteries in the thermostat. Even if the digital numbers are lighting up it can still be malfunctioning. If that doesn’t work, you can get a new thermostat for about $20 that is easy to install.