Networks

Becoming Your Family’s IT Support

May 22, 2020

Becoming Your Family’s IT Support

Have you gotten the call/email/text yet? You know, the one where your mom tells you the printer is making a weird noise. Normally you’d reassure your mom it’s probably a paper jam and you can fix it the next time you visit. But you can’t, because quarantine.

While social distancing has kept us safe, it’s also forced us to get creative with how we communicate and work together. Companies have taken extra care to provide remote services for their employees, while also ensuring their networks are safe. Having a fully functional IT support team is no exception. And face it, you’re the IT support for your family, too.

Similar to how IT support can be summoned in the office by submitting a help desk ticket, we’re summoned to our parent’s or grandparent’s house to reset the Wi-Fi. But providing IT support for your family during a lockdown can create a few obstacles. Not only do you have to be the Wi-Fi master for your parents, you now have to find a way to do it all remotely. Yes, it’ll take twice as long than if you were to go over there and fix it yourself, but it’ll be worth it in the long run. The training process can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few days, but finding the right tool can help ensure your support comes across as clearly as possible.

Here are a few things you can do to make IT support easy for you and your family.

  1. Find the best tool for you. Maybe you don’t want to download a new app and decide FaceTime is easier. Or maybe you’re the lone IT person for your SMB-sized family, so the thought of managing without a ticket system is overwhelming. In this case, you might want to try a low-cost, easy-to-use solution such as SolarWinds® Web Help Desk®.
  2. Make sure the tool works for your customer (aka your mom). It’ll help to know what apps your mom usually uses and which of those would be the best for a call. To take a step out of the process, you can consider using one of the apps she already has downloaded or uses daily.
  3. Speak the language. Your mom may not know the technical terms for every printer part, but maybe saying “the blue thingy on the right” works for her. This process is easier if you’ve spent your entire life decoding her words. For example, understanding when she’s calling you after she yells out all three of your siblings’ names.

Tools like Microsoft Teams for video conferencing or SolarWinds Web Help Desk make remote support possible. Families can also use FaceTime or Skype to further communicate their tech needs. While there’s a learning curve to teaching them what buttons to press and what levers to pull, being able to see the machine you’re fixing can be much easier than trying to explain where the print head is over the phone.

While these skills can save you time in the future, just remember to call your mom even when her printer is working.


Thomas LaRock is a Head Geek at SolarWinds and a Microsoft® Certified Master, Microsoft Data Platform MVP, VMware® vExpert, and former Microsoft Certified Trainer. He has over 20 years’ experience in the IT industry as a programmer, developer, analyst, and database administrator. LaRock has spent much of his career focused on data and database administration, which led to his being chosen as a Technical Evangelist for Confio Software in 2010, where his research and experience helped to create the initial versions of the software now known as SolarWinds® Database Performance Analyzer. LaRock has served on the board of directors for the Professional Association for SQL Server® (PASS), and is an avid blogger, author, and technical reviewer for numerous books about SQL Server management. He now focuses on working with customers to help resolve problems and answer questions regarding database performance tuning and virtualization for SQL Server, Oracle®, MySQL®, SAP®, and DB2®. He’s made it his mission to give IT and data professionals longer weekends.