Home Working IT Support Hints and Tips

Over the past 2 weeks, this has been my most used phrase!

If it's just your computer that is suffering an issue, shut it down, restart, and see if that works. If not first time, try it a couple more times. That often helps.

If you're having Internet connection issues, then sometimes the whole system needs shutting down, and restarting, but in a particular order.
1. Switch off computers and router
2. Switch on the router and wait 5 minutes
3. Switch on the computer, wait 5 minutes and see if the issue is resolved.

If you're having to use your mobile phone for work purposes, but have poor reception at home, chek to see if you can switch to Wi-Fi calling. This routes your mobile calls over your broadband connection. You will need to check with your mobile phone provider that this feature is included in your calling package.

If it is included, then you will find Wi-Fi calling within your phone settings. Switch it on (make sure your phone is connected to your home W-Fi), and you should see greatly improved calling quality.

If you're currently fighting over who gets to use the family computer, have you got any old PCs and laptops in the loft?

If so, even if they are old spec, get them out, dust them off, and try installing a Linux operating system. This can make them run much faster than whatever Windows operating system was installed, and it might just give them a new lease of life, and help keep others in the family happy. Search online for Ubuntu or EndlessOS, and there will be plenty of instructions out there to get you up and running. And it's all free.

Many of us having to work from home are now relying on our personal mobile phones for communication. That works for some. However with the current situation potentially going to last for several more weeks, if you feel that a new, separate, business phone line would work better for you, then look for a VOIP provider. You can get a business line set up within minutes, use your computer as the phone, and it can cost less than £5pm, with no long contract commitment. There are packages for solo workers and teams. My recommended provider is SOHO66.co.uk.

Video call and conferencing is fast becoming the norm for lots of us. But there are a few tips that can make things run better for both ends of the video call:

1. Test it first. Don't wait till your first important call to see how the system works. Test it on a friend or colleague first.
2. Don't have your back to a window or bright light. Have the light in front or to the side.
3. Use a headset. You and the other end will get much better quality, and there will be less background noise picked up.
4. make sure you have peace and quiet. Warn the rest of the household that you will be on a call, and make sure they don't inturrupt.
5. Check what's in the background. Don't let it be a sinkful of washing up!
6. Make an effort with your appearance. This is a work call. It's not expected that you wear your normal office attire, but make sure that it's appropriate for your job and position. 

IT Professionals have spent many years compiling and sharing amongst themselves, a massive database, that will help resolve any IT issue you come up against. Usually this is a closely guarded secret, but in these highly unusual times, I am pleased to be able to provide a link to this resource, and based on the queries that I have been aswering over the past 2 weeks, I guarantee it will help with the majority of issues. Click here.

Tips will be added Daily

If you're new to Home Working, or are just strugging with the extra strain that the current situation is placing on your Home IT Systems, over the next few days and weeks I will be putting up some (hopefully helpful) Hints and Tips based on the support calls that I am receiving.
If you have a particular issue that I haven't covered, get in touch and I'll add it to the list.

The bain of everyone's life: Passwords.
If you've got some time on your hands, now is the time to get to grips with all your passwords. Whether you use a notebook, or a Password Manager (try Dashlane), you can feel much happier knowing your password list is up-to-date. But make sure you stick to a few rules:

1. A completely different password for each service/account
2. Keep the passwords random
3. Don't use birthday/child name/pet name/town etc.

Log in and check the privacy settings on all your Social Media accounts, especially things like Facebook, Instagram etc. I recommend setting Friends Only, but whatever you choose, make sure you know what the settings are, and you are happy with who can see your information.

Something that everyone knows ought to be done, but very few do. This applies to computers, tablets and phones. Whether you use an external hard drive, or an online account, make sure:

1. Important data is in at least 2 (preferably 3) locations.
2. New data is backed up automatically (good intentions for a manual backup rarely last)
3. For very important data, don't rely on online storage. Remembr that this syncronises with your device, so if you delete a file in error, it can be lost online as well.

Check updates on your computer and phone to make sure that the latest software (and therefore security) is installed. This applies to your Internet Security program as well.

If you have a friend or relative who's struggling with an issue on a Windows 10 PC, you don't need third-party software to help them out. As long as you and the person who needs assistance are both running Windows 10, you can use the Microsoft Quick Assist app to help, even if you can't be there in person.

From the Quick Assist window, click Assist Another Person; that option displays a six-digit security code, with instructions for communicating it to the other person. Have them search for and run the Quick Assist app; they need to enter the code you just provided them and approve your request to view or control their PC. 

Many people are using the ZOOM Video Converencing app very successfully, and for most people, concerns over privacy hacks probably aren't and issue. It's unlikely that your daily chat with Aunty Doris, or your local Pub Quiz is going to be of much interest to anyone else. However if you need something a little more secure, check out IPVideoTalk. Very easy to use, and currently free for most situations.

Tasks to fill your spare time

Use any spare time to deal with some IT tasks that you probably know about, but always put off. A bit of time spent on these tasks can make your IT life so much easier and smoother.