5 easy-to-fix tech troubles you can solve yourself

used with permission from HP Technology at Work

Technology issues are a thorn in the side of many businesses. Even an action as simple as opening and printing out an email attachment can come with its fair share of bumps in the road. And the whole process of calling for support and waiting for service—that can often be as painful as the issue itself. Wouldn’t it be great if you could just fix these problems yourself? Well, sometimes you can. Here are DIY solutions to five all-too-familiar tech problems:

Problem #1: You can’t open an email attachment

Possible solutions: The most common cause for this annoying—yet easily fixable—roadblock is that you don’t have the correct software needed to open the file. To determine whether this is the case, look at the attachment’s file extension to see what program is required. For example, if the extension is .pdf, check to see if you have a recent version of a PDF reader. If not, download and install one. If the file extension is one you aren’t familiar with, a quick Google search should tell you what program you need to view it. For attachments that are missing file extensions, try adding some common ones (.docx, .pdf, .xls, etc.) and see if you can open it with any of those. Another possible cause of this issue is that the file association is to the wrong program. To change a file association, open the Default Programs applet (either through your PC’s Start menu or the Control Panel), then click on “Associate a file type or protocol with a specific program.”

Problem #2: You can’t access a file after a malware attack

Possible solutions: The easiest way to recover files after an attack is to restore them from your backup—assuming you’ve been backing them up. You can do this by clicking the Start button, going to the Control Panel, clicking System and Maintenance, and then Backup and Restore. If you haven’t been backing up your files (lesson learned!), start by Googling the malware program that infected your computer and see what tips are out there. Chances are, you’re not its only victim.

Problem #3: The printer won’t print

Possible solutions: Let’s start with the obvious: make sure your drivers are up-to-date, you have enough paper in the tray, and you aren’t running low on ink or toner. Once you’ve confirmed that those three things are in order, there are a few tactics you can try. The first is to simply turn your printer off and then on again. It’s amazing how often this works. If that doesn’t solve the issue, try another easy fix: unplug it and plug it in again. Still no luck? Check your print queue for the status of your print job, and make sure your printer isn’t offline. If it is, go to the Control Panel, click on Printers, right click on your printer, and choose the option “Use printer online.” Finally, if you’re using a wireless printer make sure you’re connected to the network.

Problem #4: Printed pages look faded or low quality

Possible solutions: Assuming you have already made sure your printer hasn’t run out of ink or toner, check your Printing Preferences to make sure you’re not in draft mode. You can try changing to a higher quality paper, although this is probably most applicable if you’re using a photo printer or trying to print professional-quality materials. Other possible fixes include nozzle cleaning or print head alignment—you should be able to find for instructions in your printer manual.

Problem #5: You’re experiencing all of the above—on a regular basis

Possible solutions: If you find that this is the case, it’s time to ask yourself a question: Do I need to update my technology? There comes a point when spending time and money fixing issues with older technology just isn’t worth it anymore. Outdated is outdated—and nothing is going to change that. After the initial investment, working on newer machines means less headaches, more efficiency, and more cost savings in the long run.

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