1. Is it plugged in and turned on? This may sound like an obvious thing to check, but you would be surprised how many ‘broken’ printers and ‘dead’ monitors were simply unplugged by the cleaning contractor the night before.
2. Have you tried Ctrl+Alt+Delete? If an application hangs, hold down these three keys and then end the application. Remember: Ctrl+Alt+Delete is your friend!
3. Have you tried rebooting your PC? This classic response has recently been made popular again by the television series The IT Crowd. If your PC has hung or is reacting slowly, or if you have no network access, try restarting it. If it has completely hung, hold the power button for 10 seconds.
4. Is it in the recycle bin? If you accidentally delete a file, check the recycle bin. Quite often it’s hiding in there.
5. Have you recently saved your work? Be sure to save regularly, as this will prevent tears when Windows throws up a blue screen or tells you, ‘This application has terminated unexpectedly’.
6. Is there a cable loose? If you’re experiencing a dead mouse or keyboard, make sure they are plugged in properly and then reboot. It’s quite easy to pull a cable loose accidentally with your foot or while rearranging your desk.
7. Does the problem only affect you, or is it network wide? If your email isn’t working or you cannot connect to a shared resource, check with colleagues to see if they have the same problem. If they do, the chances are that your helpdesk already knows about it and is now taking calls from everyone in the office.
8. Can you recreate the problem? By some strange twist of fate, the problem you are experiencing will often disappear when the IT person arrives. This leaves you wondering if the IT person has signed a pact with the devil, while the IT person is left wondering whether you just like calling him or her to your desk.
9. Are you prepared to be honest? White lies to the IT staff don’t go down well. Remember that dodgy screen savers don’t install themselves and that tea spilled on keyboards leaves a brown stain under the keys. IT staff don’t bite, but they do appreciate honesty.
10. Do you have chocolate and black coffee ready for when the engineer arrives?
Although some of these suggestions may seem trivial or even annoying, they can actually save time and money. The chocolate, of course, is simply a bribe - but hey, it works.