Common IT support questions and the answers we give


When providing remote IT support, we here at Dave’s Computers deal with users of all skill levels. From experienced hardware engineers or software developers to those using a computer for the first time. We deal with them all and are happy to adapt our approach to suit each.

Some questions come up more than others, so we put together a cheat sheet highlighting the most common questions and some answers that we hope sufficiently explains the answer to all levels of user. This is something we do a lot in order to give users of all levels of experience the knowledge necessary to make informed decisions about their IT. Plus, a little understanding makes providing remote IT support much easier!

Here are some of the more common questions and the answers we tend to give.

What does a virus actually do?

We all know that computer viruses are bad. Very few people actually know why or exactly what they do. Viruses are programs that copy themselves constantly, hence the term virus. These programs then spread across an operating system, programs and to other computers if it can. The virus attaches itself to files and will then either delete, lock or destroy files and folders. A virus is designed to cause havoc and it does it well.

Why does the internet sometimes go slow?

Back in the early days, the internet was often referred to as the ‘information superhighway’. To answer this question, it is useful to think of the internet as a highway. As more people (cars) use the internet, the busier the internet (highway) becomes. The more traffic (users) the internet has to cope with, the slower everyone travels.

The traffic can be local i.e. within your building or block or further afield. Aside from specific instances such as hardware failure, network issues or a DDoS attack, it is usually too much traffic on too small a connection that causes slowdowns.

Why do I need more RAM?

RAM, or Random Access Memory, is fast memory that your computer uses to find the files it needs. Think of your desk at work. All the files you use often you probably keep close at hand so you can quickly reach them and use them. Files you don’t use so often will likely be in your drawer or filing cabinet. Still close to hand but will take slightly longer to find.

RAM is akin to those files you use often. The more files you have at hand, the quicker you get the job done. The more RAM you have, the more files your computer can access quickly, the quicker it can get its job done.

Why are you defragmenting my drive?

This is another question where an analogy works best. Think of your hard drive as a bookcase. If you have all your books in order, you know where to find them fast. The more you use the bookcase and the more books you add, the longer it takes to find something. If you stop putting those books back in order, it takes even longer to find the one you want.

A hard drive is the same. The more programs (books) you add, the longer it takes the operating system to find a file it needs. Defragmenting a drive sorts all the files (books) into order so everything is tidy and it is much quicker to find things.

How can I tell what emails are spam or phishing and which are not?

This is a tough one to answer but there is a couple of simple rules to help. If an email comes out of the blue from someone you don’t know, it will likely be spam. If the email asks you to visit a site and input information, it is likely phishing.

Some spam is easy to identify, ‘I lost 60 pounds in 60 days with these pills’ are obviously spam and are hence, easy to identify. Others, not so much. Other spam or phishing attacks will look identical to emails your bank might send or your credit card company. The main difference is that your bank or credit card company would never need your personal information, password, PIN number or other details as they would already have it. If in doubt, delete. Otherwise, call your bank and check using their advertised number and not any numbers included within the email. Never click an email link unless you’re sure of it.

Why do I have to reboot/reset my computer/router/printer/whatever?

Rebooting a computer or router resets everything. It’s like having a good night’s sleep. The mood you were in before you went to bed has gone (hopefully), it’s a new day, you feel refreshed and ready to tackle the world again. It’s the same for a computer. You might think that software is static but the way it is used in a computer is not.

Sometimes a computer gets stuck in a loop that it cannot escape from and a reboot will reset everything so it can work normally. The same for routers, printers, network servers and any piece of technology.

Why does my computer run so slowly?

This is probably the most common question we are asked. The answer is not simple though. It could be many things, but the most common issue is that the computer is being asked to do too many things at once. Even the fastest computer can only perform one instruction at a time. Usually, it is fast enough to perform them all so quickly that you think it can to multiple things at a time, but it isn’t.

The most common causes of a slow computer are; too many browser tabs or programs open at once, an antivirus scan running in the background, it is performing a malware scan or it may even have an infection. We check for all of these issues when you call us for that remote IT support.

Delivering superior remote IT support is as much about the approach as it is about the skills. Putting yourself in the user’s seat for a second can completely change the way you approach IT support. It’s something we train everyone here at Dave’s Computers to do on every call!

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