It’s that holiday time of year again, and that means it’s over the river and through the woods to…well, fix your family’s Wi-Fi and other tech problems.
If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance that you’re the “tech person” in your family. That means your family is constantly asking you for help, then blaming you whenever something goes wrong. (“Steven, you know how you fixed my printer back in July? Well, now my internet doesn’t work. Do you think you broke the internet?”)
In that way, being the tech support for your family can be enormously frustrating. But, at the same time, thanks to the increasing role of technology in people’s lives, you’ve got a really important job to do. In many cases, if you’re not there a few times a year making sure the computers are up to date, the photos are backed up, and the tech is humming along as it should, then your loved ones are in a position to have people exploit their computers, lose their photos to a hard drive crash, or otherwise be miserable because they just don’t know any better. Unlike you and me, they aren’t out there keeping up on all the tech news and reading how-to guides.
So with that in mind, we’re going to run through a crash course—with copious links to tutorials we’ve written in the past—that will help you whip your family’s tech life into shape, so their networks are secure, their computers are backed up, and everything is connected so you can easily help them in the future. The guide is divided into sections that, based on years of experience as the family tech support team, are the areas that are the most common (and pressing).
Update, Update, Update
Tech-savvy people tend to update frequently because they want new features and security patches. Non-techie people tend to put updates off—sometimes for very, very long times. Once, while helping a relative with their computer, I discovered they hadn’t even updated Windows 7 to Service Pack 1 because somebody had told them that Service Pack 1 was bad and would crash their computer. Oh, and this was six years after the service pack was released and Windows 10 was already out.
With that in mind, one of the first stops on your tech support tour should be to check out your family member’s computers and devices to ensure they are up to date. Not just that, but talk to them before updating their stuff, and clearly explain to them why you’re doing it. Many times people are upset when things look different or behave differently as a result of an update, but if you clearly explain to them that the update is to ensure their devices are secure and so nobody can steal their identity, infect their computers, or otherwise make their life miserable, they’ll be much more accepting of any changes.