The Best Tools and Techniques for DIY Tech Support

The Best Tools and Techniques for DIY Tech Support

Photo of a hand holding an adjustable wrench

Sooner or later, something goes wrong with your technology, and that’s when you have to make a choice. As with all jobs that need to be done around the house, you either call the professionals and pay for help, or try to do the required repair yourself for free. There are pros and cons to both options, but the barrier to do-it-yourself tech support is lower than you might think.

If you’re new to do-it-yourself technical troubleshooting, we hope you find this guide helpful. Alternatively, if there are people who constantly call you to get their gadgets working again, this might be an article you can pass on to them. We know what it’s like to be “the technician”, and most of the time you don’t need a high level of technical expertise to find a solution.

Of course, it’s hard to provide a single guide, and there will be problems you encounter that you can’t solve on your own, no matter how knowledgeable you are about them. Sometimes it’s time for a comeback or professional tools. However, this guide will help you figure out when you can deal with it or when you’ll need to call in the big guns.

detective work

A screenshot of Chrome extensions

Is your browser in question, or one of its extensions?
Screenshot: Google Chrome

Before you start fixing anything, it’s important to figure out what you actually need to fix. If there is no internet on your phone, is your wifi or your device to blame? You can tell by checking if the other gadgets you have at home can still connect. If they can, turn your attention to your phone. Otherwise, your internet connection will need to be checked.

Many technical issues will require careful diagnosis: you need to consider both the hardware and software involved. If your web browser is malfunctioning, it could be your internet connection, operating system, browser, or even a browser extension to blame. Uninstalling extensions from your browser or trying to reproduce the problem with another browser are ways to find out where the problem lies. Essentially you want to test one variable at a time.

Another tip is to try to retrace your steps and consider what changed in your technical setup when your difficulties started (a new device, for example, or a software update). In general, don’t jump to conclusions when trying to figure out what’s wrong, as you could find yourself spending several hours trying to fix hardware that isn’t actually broken.

Also, be sure to keep downloadable updates in mind when troubleshooting, especially for drivers. The playing field is constantly changing, and the problem could simply be that your gear hasn’t caught up yet.

The basics

Screenshot of Windows reset screen

A full reset can fix a host of issues.
Screenshot: the Windows

This won’t apply to every technical issue you’re having, but a good, honest reboot is the first troubleshooting tip to try. Sure, turning something on and off is a cliche, but it’s a cliche for a reason: turning your devices off and then back on can erase corrupt data and crashed processes from their memory, giving you a clean slate and a fresh start. .

For a more comprehensive solution, try resetting your devices and starting afresh, that is, returning your phone, laptop, or other device to its factory settings. It might seem like a drastic step, but these processes are much easier than before, and with so many apps and so much data in the cloud now, you can be up and running again much faster.

If you’re going to go the reset route, first make sure all your apps and important files are backed up somewhere else: you’ll have to reinstall everything from scratch. You’re within an hour or two of inconvenience, but it might just be worth it for a trouble-free fresh start. Microsoft’s instructions for resetting Windows are herefor example, while you can find Apple’s guide to reset macOS here.

Official support

Screenshot of Adobe website

The official support options on the web are worth checking out.
Screenshot: Google Chrome

We just referenced two resources from official sites run by device manufacturers, and these are some of the best options to turn to when troubleshooting. The companies that made the hardware and software you’re having trouble with probably know best when it comes to finding a solution, so head over to the official site (or social feed) for the relevant manufacturer or developer and start searching their FAQs.

Whether it be crashes in photoshop or problems with a Samsung Galaxy phone camera, there are officially written and approved troubleshooting guides on the web. It’s in these businesses’ best interests to keep the information on their sites up-to-date and accurate, because they might be in trouble if it’s not, and they’ll want happy customers, after all.

The official websites of hardware manufacturers and software developers can also be useful in other ways: you will often find software patches or hardware drivers and firmware that can be useful for troubleshooting purposes, for example. They’re not always easy to find, but worth the digging.


Screenshot of a Reddit forum

Chances are someone else had the same problem as you.
Screenshot: Google Chrome

After exhausting all the official channels you can find online, you can turn your attention to the forums, message boards, and blog posts of the web in general. There are more well-qualified and insightful amateur tech troubleshooters on the internet than you might imagine – and chances are at least one of them has encountered the same problem you have.

Exactly where you need to go will depend on the problem you are having. You may find answers to your questions at the Reddit sub for your device, for example, or a dedicated forum for the software you are using. This is where knowing exactly what is wrong can be helpful. Be sure to write down any error codes that may appear during troubleshooting and take plenty of pictures.

Also, don’t forget about social media: it can be helpful to reach out to your Facebook friends or Twitter followers to see if anyone can help you solve the problem you’re having. Most of us like to look helpful and smart in front of an audience, so if you have a wide enough selection of contacts, then you should have at least a few people weigh in.

At the same time, beware of solutions that ask you to perform suspicious or overly complex fixes. You’re probably not going to invite malware into your system unless you actually download something or sign up for a service, but you could also end up complicating your problems further.

youtube videos

Screenshot of Airpods paired to an iPhone

From consoles to headphones, there’s a YouTube video for it.
Screenshot: State of Technology/YouTube

Although it’s less easy to navigate than a text-based site, YouTube has become a bit of a home for how-to and troubleshooting guides lately. Try running a search for a particular issue or related fix, and you should see a variety of matches – not all of them will be helpful, but it shouldn’t take you too long to find the most relevant videos for what you’re experience.

Whether the Gmail app crashes or one blank ps5 screen Where low AirPods volume, chances are you’ll find a few useful clips. YouTube is also a great resource if you need to perform more advanced operations on your technology: RAM upgrade in a laptop, access your router admin pagesubstitute an AirTag batteryetc

If you get a lot of results for your query, when it comes to judging which clips you should bother with, the number of views and subscribers are usually (but not always) good indicators. Also, check the comments under a video, and if you need to quickly assess whether a video solves your problem, speed it up (in a desktop web browser, this is done by clicking the cog icon, then on Reading speed).

search it on google

Screenshot of a Google search

Screenshot: Google Chrome

Running a web search with keywords related to the problem is likely to be the first port of call for many of us when something is wrong with a technology – it’s not a bad approach. to be adopted, but it must be done in an intelligent way. Many Google results these days, whether related to technical troubleshooting or not, are designed to attract clicks rather than provide actually useful information.

The more specific your search wording, the better: something like “fix Android” won’t give you the highest quality results, for example, and you’ll fare much better with specific error codes , specific software versions, and device names and brands. If you’re not getting good results with a certain phrase, change it.

You might just open a page on one of the official forums or sites we referenced earlier, and you’ll quickly get an idea of ​​which sites actually have useful troubleshooting tips to offer and which ones are there mainly just to spread advertisements to you. places like thread of life, CommentGeek, I fix itand Use can usually be invoked, eg.

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