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How Do I Teach Myself Basic IT Support?

July 10th, 2024 | 8 min. read

By Marissa Olson

Computer problems and IT issues are bound to happen; even if your IT team is experienced, teaching yourself some basic IT support is probably a great idea. It’s just a fact of life!

Whether at home or in the office, there will come a time when your computer system freezes, a file refuses to save, or a document sent to you becomes corrupt. When this happens, you most likely call your IT department, right?

Calling your IT department or your specialized IT person isn’t always the best and most proactive option. Instead of waiting for help, you can sometimes prevent these issues from happening or know how to resolve them yourself.




Call it job security, a thirst for knowledge, or even a cost savings for your business; knowing just a few basic IT skills allows you to have a more productive and less stressful workday. More importantly, how great would it be for you to be self-reliant rather than requiring an IT team to resolve your common IT issues?

We’re providing you with a list of some great IT tricks that prevent you from going to an IT team to get the resolution you need. Stay tuned; some of these tricks might surprise you.

Be in the Know: Basic IT Skills You Need To Know

Use Search Engines

We use search engines (such as Google, YouTube, and Bing) all day long. Whether you need to know how long to cook your chicken or what the best time of year is to buy a home, search engines provide us with valuable information we’re interested in learning.

Using a search engine for your IT issues should be the same way. When the machine goes down, does an “error code” ever appear on your printer/copier or computer? You probably aren’t sure what that specific code means.

When an error code appears on your printer or copier display, write down the error code and type it into Google. Attach the machine's model number as well to narrow down the specific code you received.

One of three things will most likely come up in your search:

  • You’ll find a response from someone who received the same error code as you did. They most likely have a resolution that you can use on your machine. All you’ll have to do is follow the steps they’ve listed out

  • A troubleshooting article published by the service provider of the machine or the machine company itself can appear in your search results. They have mapped out the steps you can take to resolve the basic IT issues based on the code(s) you’re receiving.

  • The search engine sometimes suggests, “People also ask,” providing you with similar questions based on your search. These can be found at the bottom of the search page. Look at some of these questions and the search engine's responses. They most likely relate to the problem you’re having. 

Of course, there will always be times when your search doesn’t bring up a correct or helpful resolution for the issues or error codes you’re seeing. At this point, you would need to either call the company of your machine or the person who typically assists your basic IT needs.

Are you wondering how much managed IT services will cost your business? Read our article, How Much Do Managed IT Services Cost?

Get Plugged In: Learn Which Cable Goes Where

This basic IT skill could seem a little more like common sense, but hear us out. Most printers, copiers, and computers offer so many different functions, and with an increase in function comes an increase in the number of cables and cords attached to a machine.

You might even feel overwhelmed by the number of cables running in and out of the system, so you’re afraid to touch anything.

However, most of the external cables connected to your machine are simple, typically consisting of:

  • The power cable
  • The USB cable
  • The Ethernet cable
  • The printer, copier, or computer cable (today, this is most likely an Ethernet or USB cable)
  • Extra hook-up cables such as a mouse or a keyboard

Take a little extra time to learn what each cable does and where it is supposed to plug in, whether to the wall or a device. You can even learn more about your machine's cables by reading the owner's manual that came with the product.

This tip is also helpful the next time a problem appears. Sometimes, you have a loose cord that continues to slip out of your machine. Double-check all your wires and cables when a problem arises to ensure they are all securely plugged in.

Don’t want to mess around with wires? Do an online search for the device’s make and model and ask how to connect it wirelessly through WiFi or directly to your smartphone or tablet. There are plenty of ways to connect devices.

Learn the Basics: Technology 101

This next basic IT skill might also seem a little underwhelming. However, the more you know basic IT lingo, the easier it will be to understand and resolve your machine’s issues. Acronyms can be your friend!

Lifewire published an article, Top 20 Internet Terms for Beginners, that we found very useful, especially for people who aren’t too familiar with IT. Some of the most common terms we see when dealing with IT support are:

  • IP Address: Your computer, printer, copier, and every device that connects to the internet uses a specific Internet Protocol (IP) address to identify the product. Usually, IP addresses are assigned automatically to your machine. IP addresses are assigned for tracking purposes whenever your machine performs any function. Think of it as your machine having its own license plate or social security number.  
  • Router: Your router is critical to keeping your business safe and secure and providing a defense against hackers. It directs specific content to the appropriate place, whether that be your computer, printer, or copier.
  • Cloud Computing: Many services nowadays offer cloud storage of your files, allowing you to access your work from multiple devices. Cloud computing is great for businesses with remote employees, as they can save files, photos, and images in the cloud and access them from any device they choose. It’s a great way to collaborate without being together in the same room.
  • Firewall: A firewall is another IT security term, consisting of software or hardware that protects your computer from hackers and viruses. Firewalls range from small antivirus software packages to complex, expensive software and hardware solutions. Whether your device comes with a firewall or not, you should certainly use and activate it to ensure your files and documents are kept safe.

  • Malware: Malware is any malicious software designed by hackers to get into your IT systems. These hackers seek to vandalize your computer, obtain your private information, take remote control of your computer, and manipulate you to purchase or give them your money. Do you want to know the best way to prevent malware? Firewall!

Learning basic IT terms is the very best thing you can do when trying to understand your devices and how they work. The more educated you are, the better they’ll perform and the more satisfied you’ll be. With the direction and advancements in technology today, these basic terms you will find when your “cable guy” is installing TV or Internet in your home. So, learning the basics of IT is becoming a life skill.

Know How to Judge Safety Online

If you can’t already tell, the safety and security of your IT and your business are among the most important aspects you should focus on. Using good judgment when using the Internet is critical in protecting your company.

Ever see something like this:

“CONGRATULATIONS! You're the 1,000,000 visitor to our website! Click here to claim your prize of $1,000,000!!”

We hate to break it to you, but you didn't win. Advertisements like this are ripe with malware and other software that puts your computer at a high-security risk. Learning how to judge the relative safety of a website helps avoid those that may harm your computer.

We can’t stress enough the importance of thinking through something on the internet before you click it, especially before giving away personal information such as your name, address, and other information you wouldn’t want someone to know.

Another safety component that falls under this category is consistently resetting passwords and understanding that you should not use one password for everything. It’s important that you become acquainted with password reset policies and password manager programs to keep your business information safe and confidential.

The Final Say: Basic IT Skills and Your Business

Knowing everything about basic IT skills probably doesn’t sound so basic to you, but that’s perfectly okay. Computers, copiers, and printers can be challenging to learn, so we want to give you the resources to do so.

If you want to learn more about IT support, reach out to us
here and let us know. Our job is to give you peace of mind to help you win more business

Marissa Olson

A true southerner from Atlanta, Georgia, Marissa has always had a strong passion for writing and storytelling. She moved out west in 2018 where she became an expert on all things business technology-related as the Content Producer at AIS. Coupled with her knowledge of SEO best practices, she's been integral in catapulting AIS to the digital forefront of the industry. In her free time, she enjoys sipping wine and hanging out with her rescue-dog, WIllow. Basically, she loves wine and dogs, but not whiny dogs.