How to solve common help desk issues

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One of our favorite phrases is “when in doubt, reboot it out”. Since we offer managed IT services in Utah, we see a lot of issues throughout the day. We can guarantee that rebooting whatever device is giving you problems will likely solve about 80% of your issues. Unfortunately, it’s not exactly a cure-all, and you will still encounter some issues that can not be solved with a simple reboot. There are a few issues that pop up on the helpdesk on a regular basis that also are easily solved.

Printer won’t print

This is probably one of the most common issues we encounter. You print things on a daily basis, and suddenly, your printer just will not print out anything anymore. Barring an actual error message on the printer, what we will do in this situation is first we clear out any outstanding documents from the printer queue. This can be found by double clicking on the printer from your devices. In Windows 10 this can be found by clicking the start button and selecting the cog looking icon for your settings. Select “devices” from the window that appears and then click on “printers” on the left. Find the offending printer on the list and click on it. It should give you the option to “open queue”. When the queue opens, click on each document sitting there and press the delete key to clear it out. Once the queue is clear, then we go to our favorite standby, reboot the printer. We usually ask the client to reboot by pulling the power cord out of the printer and putting it back in after about 30 seconds. After the printer is up and running again, we have someone attempt the print again. Very often this little trick works.

Computer won’t boot

Another common issue is just that the computer won’t boot. Obviously, there are several things that could be wrong in this situation, but there are a few steps you can do to help us diagnose and fix it more quickly. If the computer just doesn’t seem to turn on at all, you press the power button, and nothing happens, it’s most likely a power issue. Check the power strip the computer is plugged into to make sure the strip is turned on. Also just check to see if it’s plugged in securely. Sometimes a cleaning crew can accidentally switch things off or loosen a plug as they are cleaning, so this is important to check first. If the power strip is functioning properly, and it’s all plugged in securely, it usually points to a power supply failure. Your managed IT support provider can help you replace it, and it’s usually a fairly inexpensive fix.

If the computer does turn on, but it doesn’t end up getting to the login screen, you can attempt to boot into safe mode. In versions of Windows prior to recent ones, you could press f8 while it was booting to give you safe mode options. Windows boots so quickly now that the window for getting f8 to register is almost non-existent, so they removed it. If your computer is having issues booting though, it will recognize this and offer you some options.

First, while the computer is turned off, unplug everything from the computer, except the keyboard and mouse. See if it will boot to the login screen. If it is still giving you issues, you should be given the option to “troubleshoot” your startup. Go into the advanced options of the troubleshoot menu and select startup settings. We typically choose “Safe mode with Networking”. If you are able to access your computer in safe mode, it’s a good idea to scan your computer for viruses at this point. Then I would hand the reigns over to your managed IT support provider.

Computer has too many pop ups

What you have here is a virus. Go to and download the free version of the software. Run a full scan on your computer. It’s usually safe to remove anything it finds, but if you have any questions about it, I would check with your managed IT support provider before removing anything that looks like it should stay.

Keyboard doesn’t work

You try to type and nothing happens. Unless you recently had a massive spill on your computer, there are a few things you can check. If it is a wireless keyboard and mouse, replace the batteries in the keyboard and mouse. With a fresh set of batteries, if it’s still not working, or it was already a corded keyboard, try to find a different corded keyboard and mouse and plug those in. If they still won’t type, try to plug it into a different USB port on the computer. Usually one or more of these solutions will resolve the issue.

Most of these solutions will likely be the first thing a helpdesk will tell you to do when you call in about them, so it’s a great idea to get in the habit of checking these out before calling so you can get right to the meat of what is really going on with your computer!