As various forms of technology become more and more ubiquitous at work and home, it seems every family has a member who finds themselves in charge of answering the others’ tech questions. It’s undoubtedly true that more and more people are becoming familiar with some forms of technology as remote working and classes become common. Still, it’s also the case that tech evolves as quickly as people can learn.
For this reason, you may still find family members turning to you for help using technology to access healthcare, get the news, communicate, and more. It can certainly be frustrating to receive the latest in a long line of messages asking for tech support, but there are strategies you can follow to make it easier.
1. Check the Basics
If your family member comes to you with computer problems, checking for a few of the most common issues right off the bat can often save time and frustration for everyone involved. Software updates are important to ensure that a computer performs optimally even as the hardware ages, so look to see if any pending updates are waiting to be installed. These will also help counteract cyber threats from malware and viruses by automatically updating security.
Hardware problems such as faulty power supply or partially-damaged hard drives often give themselves away through noises like buzzing or increased fan activity, so pay attention to any odd noises the machine is making.
There is always the possibility that a computer’s hardware is too aged to support modern software, particularly if it belongs to an older family member. This can be easily confirmed if a machine cannot run the latest operating systems. If the computer cannot download updates, that’s a sign that it may be time to update to a newer device.
2. Make Sure They’re Protected
The tactics used by malware, viruses, and phishing scams are constantly evolving, so even your more tech-savvy family members may be unfamiliar with the best practices for protecting themselves from these hazards.
They’re likely to end up contending with junk programs from unverified websites by clicking links or allowing downloads from sources that only appear reputable. There are also more advanced threats out there, like ransomware that takes a device hostage by locking the user out and demanding payment.
3. Introduce Them to Easy Social Media Guides
Despite your best efforts, sometimes you can’t be there to solve every tech problem—and other times, you may simply need a break. The latter is especially common when it comes to repeated asks for help with matters of social media.
As of 2019, 69 percent of people between the ages of 50 and 64 were using at least one social media site, with Facebook being the most popular, and that number is only increasing. Fortunately, there are many easy-to-follow and straightforward guides you can share with your family members that can help them learn about social media on their own, like this one for Facebook.
4. Back Everything Up
Losing files and data is always a huge blow, and helping someone try to recover lost data is always more complicated than simply helping them protect it in the first place. Having multiple back-ups in place of files stored on a computer is the best way to keep from losing them, and you can help show them how.
You can introduce your family member to back-up options like external hard drives and cloud storage. External drives are a reliable way to preserve files and keep them on hand. However, they are still vulnerable to damage and loss, like anything else in your home. If the data is valuable, it may be wise to use cloud storage as well so that the data is hosted remotely and subject to regular maintenance by professionals.
5. When All Else Fails, Bring in an Expert
Although there are basic steps you can take to make it easier to help your loved ones with their tech issues, you may not always have time to help, you may not always be qualified, or you may simply want to wean them off their dependence on you. Help them look into computer repair services in their area, so they’re prepared to deal with anything with help from professionals.
Good professional tech support providers are trained to troubleshoot advanced computer issues and help people at all tech-literacy levels understand them. They can also provide parts replacements if required.
Basic Tech Support Can Go a Long Way
If you frequently find friends and family looking to you for help resolving tech issues, having a few tips in your back pocket can alleviate a lot of that pressure.
The trick is to get them to understand the basics. Once they do, they can reliably take care of their own minor tech issues and also know where to turn for professional support.