When there’s a computer glitch, people go ballistic. Even worse, they want to know what caused it— and sometimes, there’s no good answer. That doesn’t mean there aren’t fixes.
Emails that don’t show up in the recipients Inbox for days. The spinning beach ball of doom. Or the printer that suddenly stops speaking to you. These computer glitches happen all the time, and when they do, they seem to threaten our unstable relationship with technology. I’ve seen people launch into completely irrational rants over simple problems— I’ll never use a computer again! Samsung/Apple/Microsoft/Dropbox is evil! I will never, ever, figure out how to use this stuff!
The truth is, sometimes a glitch is caused by the human using it, and sometimes it’s not. And glitches happen to me too, along with every other personal tech user. True, I know a thing or two about how to troubleshoot, but sometimes a computer glitch even makes me shrug my shoulders. I tend to take a calmer approach, though, and try not to fly off the handle when things go wrong. Going crazy changes nothing (computers don’t really care if you’re freaking out), and prevents me from thinking clearly about what I can do to solve the problem. Glitches are frustrating, but only if you expect technology to always work. A long time ago, I resolved to adjust my expectations. It’s only a machine, after all, and like any machine, it can break down.
Yes, even if you paid a lot of money for it. Yes, even at the worst time ever.
Next time you encounter a glitch, don’t take an axe to your laptop or hurl your mobile phone out the window. Here are three common glitches, and easy ways to fix them.
You can’t get a signal
If you’re counting on a Wifi signal to go online (say, at a Starbucks) and you can’t connect, you might want to start throwing lattés. But there are a few simple things you can do that usually take care of the problem. First, establish that the router is, indeed, working at Starbucks (sometimes you can drive yourself crazy trying to connect to a router that no one else can connect to). If it is working, and you’ve connected to it once before, your phone “remembers” the password (which might have since changed), and that can junk things up over time. So head into your Wifi settings, and “forget this network”. Then select it again and retype the password.
The next step would be to power down and restart your device. A restart will clear the cache, reset the software, and sweep out any code that’s misbehaving. (It also gives you a few minutes to walk away and get a cold beer.)
Lastly (worst case), you can tell your device to Reset Network Settings which will wipe your phone clean of any information about any Wifi networks. You will have to re-enter the password to every network you use after that (so make sure you know what all those passwords are!), and your Bluetooth devices will need to be reconfigured, but it often fixes the problem if nothing else has worked.
Your Text Messages are Delayed
“Happy Fourth of July,” reads the text message from your dear friend. How nice! Except it’s July 5th. Where has this message been? It’s possible that a temporary overload on the network slowed the message down, or that your friend’s phone ran out of battery power before the missive went out. But sometimes it’s your smart phone’s software.
To keep your messages traveling smoothly, power down your phone every few days. You should also clear out any old conversations you no longer need, because if a lot of them piled up, a phone’s text messaging app may be overwhelmed (though there’s no way for it to tell you). If messages are appearing out of order, check to make sure the correct time zone is selected.
If you’ve downloaded any 3rd-party messaging apps, emojis or ringtones, and notice messaging problems soon afterward, un-install any 3rd-party apps, then quit and restart your messaging app to see if they were the culprit.
And of course, there’s always a benefit to powering down and restarting your phone. If problems persist, you’ll need to see your cell provider.
Your application is running slowly
If you could just. Get. The program. To finish…. saving. But the app is running slowly, and it’s killing your productivity. Here are some reasons why that might be: First, you might not have enough hard drive space.
If there’s not enough free hard drive space, your computer will have trouble saving versions of the file you’re working on. Now might be a good time to clear some things off, or delete stuff and see if that helps. You might also need to update your computer, or the software you’re using. Over time, bugs and speed issues can develop if you’re not using the most up-to-date software. So make sure you’re updated, and that might speed things up. You also might have a virus/malware infection, but that’s an easy fix— run an anti-virus software scan and see what it uncovers. And lastly (say it with me!), power down and restart. Again, a restart might complete some updates, free up memory, and clean up bugs that will free your computer from whatever sludge was slowing it down.
Don’t be like Lucas
Remember Lucas Hinch? He’s the 37-year-old Colorado Springs resident who got so fed up with his computer, he took it into a back alley and shot it eight times. You don’t want to lose your cool like Hinch, so if you’re feeling murderous toward any expensive electronic device, walk out of the room and go do something else.
Some people believe that electrically charged particles in our body’s cells and muscles change when we’re stressed, and that this can mess with electronics. The phenomenon, they say, explains why computers seem frazzled when we are. More likely, we aren’t thinking as clearly when we’re stressed. So step away, and come back to your computer later. You’ll be amazed at how much better you can handle the situation.