PCs

What are your most common desktop support issues?

We'd like to know what you’ve found to be the most common, important, or recurring desktop support issue.

Every once in a while, I’ll walk through the office and ask everyone how their computers are behaving, if the network is working all right for them, if they have any ideas for improving things, or if they need anything, in general, to make their computing business life any easier.

I always get some replies from those who claim to need the latest and greatest processing power, or perhaps a request or two for a wide screen monitor -- or even dual monitors -- and so on (most of them in jest, of course), but regardless of the more frivolous requests, this seems to be a great way to gauge what might be going on with the users I support. Generally speaking, and with only a few exceptions, I can usually comply with their requests.

My biggest request is probably in an area that very few TechRepublic peers are specifically faced with, but something that might be somewhat related to your particular situation. As one who supports an office full of AutoCAD users, there are invariably some ideas on how to change or improve our CAD standards, or requests for some customized program to be added or changed, and so on.

AutoCAD is unique in that its open architecture allows for a great deal of customization, and that’s been something I’ve been doing for more years than I care to reveal. Among the thousands of lines of code, most of which I’ve written myself, lie a few elusive bugs, some routines that don’t quite work as hoped, and so on -- especially considering that much of the code was written for versions several generations old. If I say so myself, however, it’s probably among the best customized installations around, but it’s never been perfect; there’s always room for improvement.

That’s probably my biggest issue. Anyway, I thought it would be interesting to see what you’ve found as the most common, important, or recurring desktop support issue -- regardless of whether you’re on the delivering or receiving end of the support. What kinds of common requests do you hear? What kinds of common requests do you make?

And while we’re at it, what kind of desktop support issues would you like to see addressed in this blog? As you probably know, there are several of us who are regular desktop support contributors, so here’s your chance to make a request. Between all of us, we could probably come up with something that could address your specific issue, and here’s your chance to speak up -- we’re all ears.

42 comments
egadsby
egadsby

thanks you for this article. I am a IT support tech at a small company. My support varies from scheduling and handling daily backups to supporting users with various software applications and standard office support: pbx phone system, printer support, installing programs, updating pcs, fax and print issues to Golmine support for the sales team. I don't know all but I do reasearch constantly because someone may need help in an area or they complain about why PCs are "slow" etc, etc. I could not tell you whats our most common desktop issue from a IT perspective but I do know that users often forget what you tell them. Now is this me I am not explaining correctly , am I using technospeak, Maybe. What I really want to know is how to gauge peoples attention and improve my troubleshooting and customer relationship skills.

khalid722
khalid722

email, printers and of course sloooooooooooooooowwwwwwwwwww pc's , usually down too duplexing mis match

vhinzsanchez
vhinzsanchez

Being on the country where everyone wants a powerful computer and doing nothing (well, sort of). Everybody wants to upgrade their RAM or replace their unit. They only use it for some Word, Excel and Outlook and sometimes in chatting or watching videos. Wanting to upgrade to 1GB and use the latest MS Office (2007) and make their XP look Vista that's why they are asking for an upgrade.

Tig2
Tig2

Hey guys! We who contribute to the Desktop blog wrack our aging brains weekly to make sure that we are speaking to the topics that YOU, the IT professional, are facing. Sys Admins- what kinds of things would you like to see from the Desktop people? What kinds of things would you like to hear from the Help Desk folks when you call? Is "first call resolution" a thing of the past? Speak up guys! Your opinions and input matter!

VikingCoder
VikingCoder

Interesting that you mention dual monitors. As a developer, I find a second monitor almost indispensable in my daily work. With more and more technical information moving from books to online/electronic forms, I need to have the screen real estate to have the documentation open on one screen, and my code in development open on the other. I can get along without a second if I have to, but it definitely slows me down. What I'm trying to say is that what is "frivolous" depends to some extent on your individual situation. Kudos to you for listening to your users!

briant11
briant11

My most common Desktop Support problems are, the printer won't print, how do I stop the computer from updating itself, how to do certain tasks in Microsoft Office, and how to speed up the internet connection. Obviously, some are a lot harder to answer then others but when confronted with these issues I try my best to answer the query.

Joe_R
Joe_R

Read the original article? What are your issues?

choffman123
choffman123

First call resolution is totally tied to customer satisfaction!, I?ve seen it over looked in too many companies. Every one is worried about call time. If your in a corporate help desk give them more time to solve the issue? it will improve your users view of the help desk?

mgordon
mgordon

I have a 76 percent first-call resolution ratio. We don't put all that much emphasis on it but it definitely relates to customer satisfaction. Since we are a corporate helpdesk, we can do things that a public facing helpdesk cannot do, for instance, all helpdesk staff are also domain admins and can handle common printer and password problems. We have a citrix environment and printing is by far the most common issue -- people somehow get logged onto more than one Citrix server at the same time and applications lose their binding to the client printer.

adam.howard500
adam.howard500

How about some tips to convince users that it is in their best interest to learn a procedure? Often, it seems to me, that users will decide that a procedure is "techincal" and because of this a technician should do it for them. This happens even though the procedure requires knowledge and/or judgments that only the individual user can provide. To borrow an example presented elsewhere in this thread -- archiving emails. The user should be doing it themselves so that they know where to find the emails should they be needed. Yet some users I've encountered deem this a "technical" job and therefore a technician should do it for them. No, I'm not talking about them not knowing the procedure and wanting me to teach them the procedure (I have no problem with that). What I'm talking about is the user wanting me to do it FOR them so they don't have to be bothered (at least that's the impression they give me). Either that or they simply consider the procedure "technical" and therefore outside their responsibilities. So, how do you convince this user that they should learn this procedure so they can do it themselves? Or would this be something to put in a leadership posting?

Ivy Clark
Ivy Clark

I have 2 monitors on my desk too, and I won't know how to work with just one these days.

Joe_R
Joe_R

Maybe the request isn't so frivoluus after all. I'll have to give that one some thought. Thanks....

Joe_R
Joe_R

Those issues do indeed come up from time to time in my office.

MechanicalPC
MechanicalPC

Over the past 15 years the 1d10t errors have been getting worse...can't get rid of them...regardless of the situation...usually caused by a short circuit between the keyboard and the chair...I think it's an engineering design flaw.

ddiroma1
ddiroma1

I would have to say VPN is by far the biggest desktop issue. Followed by Slow PC's, Email, then printers.

Penguin_me
Penguin_me

I worked in a school not that long ago, and we had an interesting issue. Some of the RAM disappeared from some of the desktops. A cleaner walked in one evening after school, and found two kids with a computer open in front of them, they denied taking the RAM, and said they were just curious about the inside of the computer. We promptly checked the 'net logs for these two students and found they'd looked up on eBay how much a gig stick of RAM makes. Needless to say they were suspended for that. It didn't stop there though. We had just bought a load of new Shuttle PC's (bad move, I know) they came with thumbscrews for easy access. Being Shuttle PC's the PSU was at the top, right above the MOBO. One kid thought it would be fun to remove these thumbscrews while the system was on. It fried the MOBO, I spent 2 days going round replacing all the thumbscrews on all the new PC's. The lesson ? Make sure you replace thumbscrews as soon as you get them, and make the proxy server send you a warning when a kid goes to eBay.

CuteElf
CuteElf

So far, it's been Archiving stuff on Outlook 2003, or losing it...or having the note from Sys Admin saying "Your mailbox is full". Users not knowing how to archive / save their files, really. And the Oh Crap I Forgot My Password! CuteElf

OurITLady
OurITLady

I've been working in desktop support on and off for many years and the one issue that hasn't changed in all that time is the "how do I...." question. It's often something fairly basic and frequently something that could have been avoided if more companies did a proper induction course covering the simple aspects of the IT within the company or department. I've tried many times (and in several companies) to get the various departments to give me or a colleague just a couple of hours with new starters to explain the printer setup and drive mappings, plus maybe a quick overview of the common applications, but most companies seem to view that as a waste of time. I can only dream of an employer that realises the RTO of some decent training, be it in-house or external..........

Jessie
Jessie

I work supporting desktops and servers in some of the worst urban schools in Missouri. My most common desktop issues have to do with theft of mouse balls and keyboard keys. The fix for the mouse ball theft of course is to either glue the little suckers shut or replace with optical mice, but I'm looking for ways to prevent the students from stealing the keyboard keys. Of course, the kids I'm dealing with, when they find they can't steal the mouse balls will either cut the mouse cord, or rip off the buttons... I can't win. The best deterrant I've found for this behavior is a vigilant teacher... but the vigilant teachers quickly get better jobs in better school districts, and the cycle starts all over again.

TonytheTiger
TonytheTiger

Every Monday, at least a fourth of our users forget their password, and after three-day weekends it's closer to half. Fewer than 5% of our users have never had that problem.

chris
chris

The majority of issues involve printers not printing, emails not opening, finding "lost" files, and a multitude of "How do I?" questions relating to Word and Excel. We are a construction firm and many of the issues come from users in the field. Even the most seasoned computer users seem to need more support when they are out of the office and in the field.

mailstuff95
mailstuff95

wow. that's the exact opposite of my work place. we have an average fcr of 91% or better. but i can tell you that customer satisfaction is pathetic. i hear complaints from end users and even other it staff in different sites. when you hear it from end users its bad, but when you hear it from other it staff you know it's going down the crapper. if your fellow it staff can't stand your service, then can you imagine what an end user would think? fyi, we've got offices in perth, melbourne, sydney.

Franna
Franna

I have the same problem here, users thinking that it's "computer related" the technician should come and sort out the problem, even though they can do it themselves. Knowing your users also helps alot. But I think that a 1 or 2 hour training course so to speak for new employees, will surely help alot

stevek504
stevek504

Two monitors for development personnel (hardware and software) is almost a basic requirement these days. Management, and probably other departments, can use the laptop + monitor method to gain desktop space.

rahammers
rahammers

I have seen an amazing number of people requesting dual monitors when they have a docking station. Pretty much a dual monitor system if only somebody shows them. If you have that configuration users can have dual monitors if they position their laptops properly at no added cost. I agree, the added realestate sure is nice when you have something you need to monitor while working elsewhere in the system.

lauren_ukkerd
lauren_ukkerd

I also have suggested in various IT positions I have held to create a new user's guide with the basics a new employee would need to know such as logging into the network, password policies, accessing email, etc. I was also told basically each time no, there really would not be a benefit in that because users would still call for help. This is true but if you have a new employee-user training it would possibly cut down some of the calls the call center would receive.

mgordon
mgordon

It may be difficult to implement, but two ideas come to mind. One is virtual keyboard: a laser projected image of a keyboard and a ccd watches where you touch. Absolutely no contact and the emitter could be put behind bulletproof glass. Another is various kinds of touchscreen and associated virtual keyboard. Glidepoints could be epoxied into desktop surfaces.

Joe_R
Joe_R

That's a tough one. Checking them out and paying a deposit wouldn't work. Not replacing the stuff wouldn't work. Maybe someone will have an idea.

adam.howard500
adam.howard500

When I worked on help desk, we had a group of users who would call at least once every day for a week after they changed their passwords. If the policy required a change every 90 days, then count on calls from these people at least once a day every 90 days. These users also assured our tech group that there was no reason there should be so many different passwords. I sort-of shut them down on this when I pointed out that for basically every password they had to remember, I had to remember an equivalent; then I added that I had to remember a network admin password, a SQL Server admin password, several ODBC passwords, several support web site passwords, etc. Once I pointed this out, people stopped complaining about the number of passwords (at least to me). Maybe this will work for others out there, too.

vhinzsanchez
vhinzsanchez

Been there, done that. Even only after a night, there are users who forgot their passwords locking their accounts after several tries...their complaint is that there are too many passwords to remember.

derek
derek

Which begs the questions. . .in most cases aren't password policies too strict? If you don't need to require changing passwords and no repeating passwords etc. . .then don't you just add to the tech support overhead by doing that? Comments?

imarjay
imarjay

we have reccuring issues with docking stations.The docks are mostly connected to projectors

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Waking it up? It wasn't me. 0:-) Missing a thread? Yes. :(

jdclyde
jdclyde

looooser! :p [i] don't you just HATE that? ;\

adam.howard500
adam.howard500

I didn't mean to imply that you didn't want them calling. If I did, I apologize. And, no, I'm not saying they shouldn't call. The reality is that there is nothing we (the support people) can do about "too many passwords". Often I'd point out that this came from on high and there was nothing I could do about it. On those few occasions where I was asked what I thought about a plan that would require another password for the users, I'd ask if there is a way to use the existing network password (among the other items I wanted / needed to mention). Management rarely listened. Actually the idea for going into the list of extra passwords I had to know came when a user asked if I had to remember as many passwords as the average user. So, I listed all the apps I used that needed passwords. This user (user A) later overheard another user (user B) saying "too many passwords" to me and came over. User A told user B that I had to remember a lot more than user B did and had me list off the apps again. So I did. Sometimes, though, it seems that the users would lose perspective. Hearing all the extra apps that I had know passwords for may have helped to restore said perspective. In a few cases at least, I saw a different perspective from the users after they heard the list (much better perspective in my opinion).

TonytheTiger
TonytheTiger

[i]I sort-of shut them down on this when I pointed out that for basically every password they had to remember, I had to remember an equivalent; then I added that I had to remember a network admin password, a SQL Server admin password, several ODBC passwords, several support web site passwords, etc.[/i] That reminds me of the hypochondriac down the hall... tell her you have a slight headache, and she pulls out a list of every medical condition she's ever had. [i]Once I pointed this out, people stopped complaining about the number of passwords (at least to me).[/i] I quit telling the lady about my headaches too... but that doesn't mean I still don't get them. I didn't mean to imply that I didn't want them calling. They didn't want to forget their password any more than I wanted them to.

TonytheTiger
TonytheTiger

and I keep it in my wallet. Our average users have between 2 and 6 (they CAN sync their Lotus notes password with their Windows password but many choose not to). IT people have 12 to 15, and I have another 10 or so at home. Even I can't remember that many... and even though I have them on a card, I sometimes forget which password is to what :)

szlzezezpzzz
szlzezezpzzz

Why do we have password? Security security security. It truly depends on the unique situation of the company. Some are more lock down than others, but the password is the first line of defense into a users computer. Usually a high security company will use multiple means of security. Say a flash drive acting as a key card with a pin number. Now there is biometric security. fingerprint reader, an iris reader. The second you must think about how people breach security. There are multiple ways to crack a password, and there are automatic programs that do this. the faster CPU's become, the faster and more powerful these password cracking programs become. but if you have a solid password policy you can eliminate most of these threats. even if a password is finally cracked it usually takes at least 2 months or you want a new password by then by timing out the password after 3 failed attempts prolongs the cracking. I would deffinitely take more work load for a more security.

PlexusSage
PlexusSage

I agree that strict PW policies create additional overhead for both the end user and the IT department. If they're too complicated and too difficult to remember, especially if they change every 90 days, users will resort to writing them down on a Post-It and affixing it to the monitor. If security is that vital to an organization, maybe an RSA, smart card or bio-metric device is the way to go. Otherwise, if your organization is smaller, a strong password changed every 6 months, and a quick account disabling of ex-employees is a good way to go. I also suggest the following basics: Strong security on shared resources w/Auditing enabled Disabling USB ports and CD burners Internet Gateway Appliance for anti-spam, AV and web filtering Charlie www.plexus-it.com

alec.wood
alec.wood

"We work for the users, not the other way around" That kind of talk might get you lynched round here ;)

TonytheTiger
TonytheTiger

but someone high up in state government decided these things without my input. Personally, I think the policy's sole purpose is to get rid of older employees, who are less computer savvy, as well as usually being better paid. Being a taxpayer too, I applaud efforts to reduce the costs of public services, but I'm afraid that core services will suffer. For example, a bridge inspector's core service is observing the conditions of the structures he inspects... entering that data into the computer is secondary. Replacing him with a younger person might get you less computer problems, but less experience at noticing cracks in bridge structures. I think that too often, the IT "tail" is wagging the company (or government) "dog." We work for the users, not the other way around.

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