What to do when your technology isn’t working the way it should

FrustratedThis tip works for just about anything that uses technology – computers, smartphones, tablets, printers, televisions, cable boxes, remote controls, home networking routers and access points, cordless phone systems, smart appliances, etc. And in my experience, it works 80% of the time, so it’s useful to do before you call someone for help! Read on for specific instructions.

Restart, re-power, renew For computing devices, restarting them (or shutting them off and turning them back on) will often cure system problems. If your device has a removeable battery, take it out, count to 30 and put it back in. For devices plugged into the wall, unplug the power, wait 30 seconds and then plug it back in. If your device has disposable batteries, replace them all with fresh ones. Tech support companies all know that restarting your computer is the first thing you should try when it isn’t behaving, and now you know too!

Here are a few specific instances where a bit of technology needs to be restarted slightly differently:

fiosFIOS Routers, cablemodems and set-top boxes In addition to the power cord, there is a coax cable that you should unscrew. You should leave it off for about a minute, and then screw it back in before you plug the power back in. Your cable repair folks will invariably do this first when trying to fix a problem.


fujitsu-laptop-pcHome Networking setups Turn off your printers and computers, then turn off everything else (switches, routers, cablemodems, access points, etc.). Once everything is eitehr turned off or unplugged, you can then start to plug everything back in and turn everything on – but in a specific order. I call this out-to-in: from the internet to your computers and printers. It’s pretty straightforward, think of your cable feed as the furthest out, followed by the networking gear that connects to that cable feed, followed by the devices that are connected to that networking gear.

  1. cablemodem
  2. router (if separate from the cablemodem)
  3. access points (if you have any)
  4. switches (if you have any)
  5. printers and other devices
  6. computers

By turning everything on in this order, you make sure that all the electronic connections and configurations are solid. The cablemodem needs to connect to the internet through your service provider before it can pass signals inside. Then comes the router, which takes those signals and distributes them to everything inside the house. But first, the router has to be ready to name and number all the devices as they are turned on, so the router has to be fully running before proceeding. Then, you repower any network devices (access points and switches) you may have that further distribute the internet connection inside your house. And finally, you can turn on your printers, followed by your computers. Now all your devices should be working correctly.


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