INTHEBLACK July 2020 - Page 65



WORK SMART
// T E C H TA L K
STORY GLENN REES
Left: Get to know your
router’s settings to
change wi-fi channels,
secure your network
and more. Below:
Tools like CleanMyMac
can help reduce
storage clutter and
optimise your
system’s performance.
HOME OFFICE
SELF-HELP
Right: A wi-fi analyser
like NetSpot can be a
big help in diagnosing
connectivity problems.
CAN’T CALL TECH SUPPORT? SOMETIMES THE ANSWER
IS AS SIMPLE AS RESTARTING A DEVICE, OR FIGURING
OU T TH E P ROBLEM BY PROCES S OF EL IMINAT I O N.
O
FULL HARD DRIVE?
Above: A wireless charger can
reduce wear and tear on your
charging port. Left: Both macOS
and Windows offer good back-up
tools. Below: Use an app like
Speedtest to check your internet
performance at various locations.
ne challenge when working remotely is
not having an on-site tech support team
to call on, but did you know you can
solve many tech problems by using some
relatively straightforward techniques? Let’s
start with some general tips that may help
with a range of issues.
A full or near-full hard drive is a hassle, and
it can affect your computer’s performance.
The techniques in this article will help
reduce storage clutter, but if they’re not
enough, you may need to archive older or
lesser-used files on an external hard drive or
in the cloud. You can do the latter by using
OneDrive’s Files On-Demand feature in
Windows or macOS’s store in iCloud tool.
Dropbox Business offers a similar feature.
TROUBLESHOOTING TIPS
Use a process of elimination. Most tech
problems have a range of possible causes,
so take a systematic approach towards
eliminating them.
• Check the simplest causes first: Monitor
not working? Check that the cable is
plugged in properly. Smartphone not
charging? Try another cable. Checking the
simplest possible causes first could save
you a lot of time and hassle.
• Restart it: If you’re having trouble with
a device, try restarting it. That clears its
memory, and may fix the process that
caused the issue. However, if it’s a
computer, use the operating system’s
restart feature if you can. The hardware
reset button should only be used as a last
resort, as it can result in data corruption.
• Take note of any error message, either
writing it down exactly or taking a
screenshot. You’ll need it to search for
solutions online or when making a tech
support call.
• Check official resources: Tech vendors
generally offer rich self-help resources
online, such as frequently asked questions
(FAQs), knowledge bases or forums to
help customers.
• Know your limitations. You’ll find a lot of
unofficial solutions on the internet. Many
70 ITB July 2020
LOST A FILE?
need an ethernet cable and possibly an
ethernet adapter for your laptop. If that solves
the problem – or your wi-fi network remains
flaky – you may need a new router.
If there’s still a problem when connected
directly to your modem, try another laptop
if you can. If that doesn’t help, contact your
internet provider.
are useful, but some may land you in even
more trouble – particularly if your device
is still under warranty. If in doubt, seek
help from the vendor or a professional.
SLOW COMPUTER?
SLOW INTERNET?
Slow or unreliable internet could be due to
your broadband connection, your router,
wi-fi, a network cable or your device, so it’s
definitely a problem that requires a process
of elimination.
Try restarting your router. If that doesn’t
work, consider the devices that have a bad
connection, and work out if there’s a common
denominator. If it’s one computer connected
via an ethernet cable, for example, that cable
could be loose or need replacing.
If the troublesome devices are on wi-fi, try
moving one close to the router.
If the speed increases as you move closer,
it’s probably a wi-fi issue. Newer wireless
routers support two frequency bands, which
appear as two separate networks: 2.4GHz and
5GHz. Choosing the latter could be a simple fix,
as it’s likely to be less congested, faster and
offer greater range than 2.4GHz.
Routers can also use different wi-fi channels,
so check your router’s manual for instructions
on how to switch to another channel that may
have less interference.
Experiment with the position of the router,
use a wi-fi analyser, or buy a wireless extender
to improve wi-fi coverage.
Still got problems? Try plugging your laptop
directly into your broadband modem. You’ll
A slow-running computer can really affect
your productivity and concentration, but it
doesn’t necessarily mean you have to buy
a new computer. Here are a few things you
can try first.
First, remove any unwanted apps and check
for clutter that has built up over time, including
programs running in the background. Windows
and macOS have tools that allow you to do
this, but third-party optimisers such as iolo
System Mechanic for Windows can speed up
the process.
Alternatively, a clean reinstallation of your
operating system will nuke everything you
don’t need. Just be sure to back up everything
you do need first.
Can’t find a file? First, check Windows’
Recycle Bin or macOS’s Trash to see if you
have accidentally deleted it. Perhaps you
accidentally saved it to another folder, so
use you operating system’s built-in search
function to look for the file.
If it’s gone, don’t panic. Tools such as Disk
Drill can recover “permanently deleted” files.
However, act quickly, because it won’t work
if new data has overwritten the area on the
drive where the file used to be. Disk Drill can
even recover files on a damaged storage
device, or deleted emails.
Want an earlier version of a document?
Dropbox, OneDrive and similar apps offer
a version history feature.
SPILLED WATER ON YOUR LAPTOP?
We all know we shouldn’t drink near our
laptop, but what do you do when you ignore
that advice (like most of us do) and spill
liquid over the keyboard?
First, if your laptop is connected to the
mains, disconnect it from the power point
immediately, and power it down. Quickly
wipe away as much liquid as you can, and
unplug the power cable and external devices.
Open your laptop as wide as you can and
turn it upside down, placing a paper towel
underneath. Let it drain for a day or two.
The next step involves disassembling your
laptop and drying the components, but that’s
best done by a computer technician.
MAINTENANCE TIPS
Here are some simple suggestions to help you
head off problems before they arise.
• Use antivirus software. Among other nasty
symptoms, malware can really slow down
your system, so if that’s a problem for you,
try running a virus scan.
• Back-up. Make sure you back up
everything you need, including data files
for applications such as Outlook, that may
not be in an obvious place. Using a
file-syncing app like Dropbox is a good
start. For important data, however, you
should also use dedicated back-up
software daily to copy the files to a second
location, such as an external hard drive.
• Save your work regularly – just in case
your computer crashes. Turning on
auto-save, if your application supports it,
can make this easier. Just be aware in
recent versions of Microsoft Office,
auto-save will only work if you name and
save your file to OneDrive before starting
on the document.
CPA
PODCAST
Career skills revisited: working from home:
cpaaustralia.com.au/podcastwfh
intheblack.com July 2020 71

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