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How to Troubleshoot Internet Connections from Near and Far

Tech Talker shares tips for helping your friends and family when the Internet stops working.

By
Eric Escobar,
March 24, 2016
Episode #214

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When the computer doesn’t start or “The Facebook” won’t load (as my uncle says), you're likely the person who gets a frantic phonecall.

I’m basically free tech support for my entire family and most of my friends. I’ve spent years helping them and have a ton of tricks to make it as easy on everyone as possible. Recently, I discussed how to troubleshoot computers, phones, and tablets remotely.

And yet ... this becomes impossible if the problem is the Internet connection! Fear not because in this week’s episode, I’ll share some tips for helping your friends and family when this conundrum occurs.

Use FaceTime or Skype

Typically when the Internet goes out, cell phones can still connect because they use cell towers to communicate when WiFi isn’t available. In this circumstance, I FaceTime my relatives with iPhones and iPads, and I Skype with any of my relatives and friends that have Android devices.

Next, I have them turn the camera around so that I can see what they see. From here, I can direct them and assess what’s happening from there. This is way easier than trying to have them describe what they see. It’s literally a game of telephone where they may not understand what it is they see, or leave out some really important detail like, “I tripped on the power cord and it came out.”

It makes things much easier when you’re able to see the faulty set-up.

Record It Ahead of Time

Now I use Skype and FaceTime as a last resort, and I like to have my family and friends help themselves—that way, they don’t feel bad for calling me at all hours, and they have an opportunity to learn a little in the process.

My parents went to Europe last year, and I showed them how to put their phone into airplane mode, how to check how much data they were using, and how to connect to WiFi. My mom was nervous about forgetting this when she was gone, so I simply recorded me running through all of the steps on her phone.

That way she could just reference any of the videos if she had any questions. It took just a few minutes, but was a life saver when she traveled abroad. This goes for all sorts of troubleshooting. I have family members that typically run into the same issue over and over again—from not knowing how to flip a picture rightside up to having to reboot their network.

If they forget, they can just reference the video you recorded for them. This really works well for complicated steps or problems that they frequently run into. The couple of minutes it takes to record the video could well be worth the time. Plus, I love getting calls from my parents when they say, “I fixed the printer myself watching your video!” In fact, many of my podcasts are born out of answering questions from my family and now I have somewhere to point them when they have issues!

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