5 Simple Tricks The IT Department Uses (That You Should Not)

All of this computer magic is at the tip of your fingers - leave it there.
5 Simple Tricks The IT Department Uses (That You Should Not)

When I was in school getting my networking degree, I worried that someday soon, a degree in IT would be as worthless as knowing how to ride a penny-farthing. Since everyone is using a computer every day of their lives, what need is there for an IT department? Shouldn't we all know how they work by now (magic)? Well, if a decade in the field has taught me anything, it's that your average user can't be bothered to learn how to fix their own computer, especially when there are CHUDs in the IT department with the techno-know-how to do it for them.

But here's a secret those fat cats in the tech office won't tell you: Your common PC issues aren't that hard to fix. It's just a matter of knowing what to do in a way that won't make things 150 percent worse (do not hit it with a hammer, no matter how much you want to). Here are some common computer problems that are easy enough to fix, but only if you know what the hell you're doing.

The Task Manager Is Your Best Friend

5 Simple Tricks The IT Department Uses (That You Should Not)

The Problem

How many times have you been working in a program you use every single day, only to have it completely freeze up on you? The screen will blank out, or maybe you'll get that useless "Not Responding" message at the top. And what's worse, clicking the X at the top does fuck-all to close it. Meanwhile, you're sitting there in your chair, twiddling your thumbs, able to do neither jack nor squat.

5 Simple Tricks The IT Department Uses (That You Should Not)
Erik Germ

The Easy Fix

Much like summoning the malevolent sex-demon Zepar from the depths of Hell, you can also conjure up a solution to many of your frozen system problems through one simple incantation: Ctrl-Alt-Del. You might be familiar of the Task Manager on Windows PCs, but it may surprise you to see how many users don't understand how useful it can be. When the Task Manager first comes up, you will probably only see a few things listed in the application tab, including the aforementioned "not responding" program. You're also given the option to end that task at the bottom.

x Windows Task Manager File Options View Windows Help Applications Processes Services erformance Networking Users Tack Status least sexiest demons Goo
Erik Germ

Uhh, you can ... just ignore the other two. I was doing ... research.

It seems like a no-brainer to fix your frozen program, but the task absolutely will not end if it doesn't want to, and instead wants to continue fucking up your work day. That's when we would typically switch over to the processes tab at the top, which gives us a look at everything currently running on your system.

Windows Task Manager X File Options View Help Appications Processes Services Performance Networking Users Image Name User Name CPU Memory chrome.exe *
Erik Germ

What the effing fuck, Chrome?

Ending the process that is hanging you up is a lot more efficient than ending the task, and it works almost immediately. That's usually the first place an IT guy will look when you call about a program not working. But while it's a great solution to a systematic problem, it can also make things worse if you don't know what you're doing.

Why The IT Department Doesn't Want You To Do It Yourself

What you may have noticed from the image of the Task Manager is the lack of a program name in the processes tab. They don't spoon-feed you the program name to make it easy to identify, but instead list the application's file name. The reason IT doesn't want you to fuck around with the processes is that we know what those programs mean, while your average end user does not. It's obvious that a process called outlook.exe will kill your Outlook program, but what if a casual user sees a program called "wininit.exe" eating up a lot of memory and decides to end it?

Windows Task Manager X Do you want to end the system process 'wininitexe'? Ending this process will shut down the operating system immediately. You wi
Erik Germ

You have the power, but do you want the power?

And that's a best-case scenario, since this process asks you just what the hell you think you're doing. What if you end the WiFi program? You'd be kicked off the internet and would have to, like, read a book or something. Or what if you ended one of the 10,000 RunDLL32.exe processes which are necessary to run your computer? You could cause some real problems for your system and end up in a much shittier situation that you were before. That's a quick way to piss off the IT department -- which, as Cracked has already established, is something you don't want to do.

The Computer Is Slow To Boot Up


The Problem

If you have a computer that is more than a few months old, odds are you have run into the age-old issue of the "Slow Boot-Up Shuffle." It's the dance you do when you power the system on which involves stomping your feet while walking around in a circle of impatient jazz squares.

5 Simple Tricks The IT Department Uses (That You Should Not)

It's just a jump to the left!

Unfortunately for you, only the IT department has the magic wand they can wave to speed the cursed thing up for you, right?

The Easy Fix

I'll let you in on a little insider tip: There's no magic wand. Very rarely does waving our hand in front of a computer screen fix a problem, unless it's the '90s and our goal is to discharge static on one of those old CRT monitors.


No joke, that was a thing we had to do.

There's no magic involved in making your computer boot faster, unless you consider built-in programs magic. For a lot of programs, like Skype or Dropbox, the program sets them to boot with the computer so they're ready to go right away. You can usually turn off the "boot with Windows" option in most program settings, since those programs take it upon themselves to enable it. But some programs don't have that option and still boot with the computer, slowing it down considerably each and every day. Luckily, there is another way to turn off startup items called MSCONFIG, which gives you a list of everything that boots with the computer and the option to give them the finger, like, so hard.

System Configuration General Boot Services Startud Tools Service Manufacturer Status Date Disabled Adobe Flash Player Update Service Adobe Systems Inc
Erik Germ

So now that you know MSCONFIG exists, leave it the hell alone!

Why The IT Department Doesn't Want You To Do It Yourself

If you know what you're doing, MSCONFIG is an excellent way to disable the bullshit that clogs your startup pipes. There are a ton of unnecessary programs that boot with your PC, like Java and Adobe updates, iTunes, Google Toolbar nonsense, and so many others. But squeezed in amongst the expendable items are programs you absolutely don't want to disable. Aside from some important graphics and sound programs, your IT department may have some programs installed specifically to support your system. Disabling something like that is a fast track to HR and a potential pink slip for the effort.

The Hard Drive Is Almost Full

5 Simple Tricks The IT Department Uses (That You Should Not)

The Problem

Few things are worse than a topped-off hard drive. Once your disk space gets down to a certain point, everything starts to fall apart. Every program that you use needs to write data to your drive, and if you're out of space, odds are you won't be able to work. It gets even worse when you simply cannot find anything to delete. Especially when you can't bear to part with your gigabytes of pictures (porn pictures), videos (porn videos), and music (porn ... soundtracks?).

5 Simple Tricks The IT Department Uses (That You Should Not)

"Love that funky wah-wah effect."

So how the hell are you supposed to free up space when there is no space to free up?

The Easy Fix

On the surface, it may not look like there are any deletable items in the folders you use every day, and that might be the case for you. Luckily, your friendly neighborhood IT guy knows where the rubbish hides out on your hard drive and the most effective way to get rid of it. For instance, on a Windows PC, you have regularly scheduled updates which install automatically. Windows Updates is kind of a one-and-done thing that doesn't require much user input, but when it's done, those update files need somewhere to go. Your IT guy can navigate to the folder where those excess files are stored and delete them without any problematic side effects. It's the same deal with temporary files used by programs, and old log files that write and overwrite themselves constantly, eating up your space that could be better utilized by some hilarious cat memes. By themselves, those kinds of files don't take up a lot of real estate, but when enough of them get together, they can really be a pain in the ass.

Why The IT Department Doesn't Want You To Do It Yourself

Unless you're willing to delete stuff you've downloaded yourself, it's probably best you leave the rest of the folders on your computer alone. I've been around the internet enough to know that the most common response to "How do I fix ____ on my computer" is "Delete the System32 folder." If you don't know already, that is extremely bad "advice." System32 is the folder that makes Windows work. Without it, you just have an expensive paperweight whose only feature is to complain that it can't find the files needed to access any features.

I accidentally deleted the data under system 32 folder, data gone DE dementedrmt asked on May 16. 2012y I accidentally deleted the data under system 3
Erik Germ

Oh, dementedrmt, you sweet, foolish angel baby.

People can be gullible, and it's not really their fault for not knowing how a computer works. But right there is a prime example of why you don't want to run around just deleting whatever you want. Almost everything under the C:\Windows directory should be considered off-limits, since it's the lifeblood of your system. The absolute worst-case scenario any IT professional will give you is that you need to buy a bigger hard drive. That's an extremely small price to pay, since you can get a decent-sized drive for less than some of the coffee at Starbucks nowadays.

System Restore Can Be A Lifesaver

Mitigation Backup Disaster Plan Redundancy Recovery Response Monitoring

The Problem

It is very easy to not get a virus on your PC in 2016. Microsoft in particular makes it very difficult to continue using your computer without some kind of protection installed. But even the best computers can get some of the nastiest viruses out there -- the ones that seem to only exist to make your life a living fucking nightmare. This is the time when the super nerds actually feel like superheroes, because nothing is better than saving a PC in distress after the person using it mucked it up so badly.

5 Simple Tricks The IT Department Uses (That You Should Not)

From zero to ... still zero.

The Easy Fix

I mentioned how Microsoft has all sorts of protection built into their systems. This protection doesn't just save you from viruses, but also virtually anything that is mistakenly installed on your computer. One such safeguard is called System Restore; a kind of time machine created to protect you from yourself and take you back to the blissful time when your computer wasn't totally screwed.

5 Simple Tricks The IT Department Uses (That You Should Not)
Universal Pictures

"When this porn site installs a virus on your computer, you're gonna see some serious shit."

System Restore will typically make a snapshot of your settings every time you install a new program or whenever Windows runs an update, so it can roll back to that if the user deems it necessary. So if a virus somehow gets installed, or maybe a developer releases a bad update to a program that totally tanks your computer, you can choose a date on the calendar to Quantum Leap back to.

System Restore X Restore your computer to the state it was in before the selected event How do I choose a restore point? Current time zone: Eastern St
Erik Germ

Sorry it doesn't look like a DeLorean. I don't make the rules.

Why The IT Department Doesn't Want You To Do It Yourself

As far as self-diagnosing your computer, System Restore is probably the least harmful action you can attempt on your own. It was built to be a fail-safe for your deplorable computing habits, and is actually very intuitive to use. But if you have the means, you should definitely consult a professional before diving in. A lot of times, the restore points generated will be labeled "Critical Windows Update," which basically means "This shit is important." Those updates are installed to protect your system from some kind of major security flaw Microsoft has found in their software. Going back to before that update was installed is leaving yourself open to the kind of attack that probably dropped you into a shitty situation in the first place.

Plus, if your issue is bad enough, a System Restore won't do much except make it tougher for a professional to diagnose what your issue was before the time jump. Also, if you mess with the space-time continuum enough, your computer might end up in a timeline where Biff Tannen rules Hill Valley, and that's the last thing any of us need.

The Computer/Laptop Won't Turn On


The Problem

Here's a horror story scenario: You sit down in front of your computer, ready for a night of work or games, and the power button doesn't do anything. You've checked the power cable, made sure the power isn't out in your house and you just haven't noticed until now, and you've prayed to whatever deity typically answers technological prayers. None of that has worked, and your computer is currently dead in the water.

Jeff Nagy/iStock

Not literally in the water, but I appreciate your commitment.

The Easy Fix

So many things can cause your computer not to boot, but the most common issues are often some of the easiest to resolve. If your computer doesn't turn on at all -- meaning no lights come on, no fans spin, and no blood pours out of the CD drive -- some bad hardware can usually be diagnosed. Usually, though, some kind of flashing light or beep can be heard when you try to fire your system up, and those light or beep codes will tell an IT department everything they need to know to get you up and running again. A lot of times, especially with laptops that are constantly being taken from place to place, you'll have some bad hardware, like memory sticks.


They look delicious, but take it from me: Do not eat them.

Other times, something else inside the system may just need to be readjusted or replaced to get you going again good as new. Like, maybe a toddler shit in there or something. Most computer parts are easily and cheaply swapped, but you really only get the full benefit of it when a professional handles it for you.

Why The IT Department Doesn't Want You To Do It Yourself

For the love of all things that are holy, please do not go rooting around the inside of your computer by yourself, especially if the company you work for owns that computer. If you don't readily know where the components you need to work on are located, you could legitimately mess up your whole system. For instance, the memory sticks issue I mentioned earlier. Sure, taking the memory out and putting it back in can fix a computer that won't boot up. But some PC manufacturers make it difficult to even find the RAM to remove. On a laptop, you may have to remove the keyboard, take off the screen, and then unscrew a panel underneath to get to the system board where the RAM is located. Furthermore, if you have a carpet in your home, you're susceptible to static electricity. If you manage to zap your computer with the static shock, you can make friends with the idea of your system never working again.

5 Simple Tricks The IT Department Uses (That You Should Not)
Brandon Alms/iStock

Worst. Superpower. Ever.

In short, computers are an IT professional's bread and butter. Actually, if we're talking about IT workers, I should probably say computers are our Doritos and Monster Energy Drinks. However easy most problems are to fix, our job is to make sure you can do your job. And we can only do that by making sure your computer isn't trashed. So while this may have been a peek behind the curtain of what we do, it's probably best you stay on the other side of that curtain. If nothing else, the smell alone back there might make you sick.

Please don't ask Erik Germ to fix your computer on Twitter.

For more dark secrets from these modern heroes check out 6 Reasons The Guy Who's Fixing Your Computer Hates You and 5 Gross Things You Learn About People Fixing Their Computer.

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