How to get out of trouble

Whether you want to solve computer problems yourself or enlist the help of someone more technical, you’ll save time and minimize frustration if you know how to do a few simple things.

Reboot your router/reboot your modem

Persistent issues with connecting to the Internet require rebooting your router and/or modem at some point. 

You shouldn’t have to do this all the time. If you do, something needs to be repaired or replaced.

But every so often, you’ll need to do this to troubleshoot a problem or to assist your Internet Service Provider in troubleshooting a problem.

Reboot simply means restart the device, just like rebooting your computer. There are geeky ways to do this, but I’ll just cover the easy way here.

  • First, identify the thing you want to reboot.
  • The router and modem might be two different pieces of equipment, or they might be all one device. Locate your router and or modem.
  • Now locate the power cord that connects that device to an electrical outlet. 
  • When you’re ready to reboot the device, unplug the power cord. (You don’t have to crawl around on the floor; unplugging either end has the same effect. 
  • It’s almost always easier to unplug the end of the power cord that connects to the device rather than to the electrical outlet.) Hold that cord in your hand, count to 30, and then plug it back in. 
  • Wait a couple of minutes for the device to come back to life and see if that fixed your problem. If it didn’t, you can contact your service provider confident in the knowledge that you’ll know how to do this when they ask you to.

Turn off your computer

That sounds simple and generally it is. Click on Start | Power | Shut down. That’s all there is to it most days.

Sometimes, though, computers don’t start up properly or shut down fully, and you might need to shut down manually.

  • To do this, press and hold the power button on the computer. You need to hold it down until you hear the computer shut off, and sometimes that can take as long as 15 seconds.
  • You want the computer to be silent, and you don’t want to see the power button flashing or illuminated in any way.
  • Press and hold that power button like you mean it.

If a technician tells you to disconnect the computer completely from its power source, you need to unplug it from the electrical outlet.

If the computer is a laptop, you also need to remove the battery (unplug from the outlet first!) to stop all electrical current from flowing.

Know what operating system your computer is running

Maybe you want to use Google to find a solution to whatever computer glitch is troubling you, or maybe you want someone to help you.

One of the things you need to know is what operating system you’re running.

The easiest way to find this on a Windows computer:

  • Press the Windows key and the R key simultaneously (WinKey+R)
  • Type winver in the field next to Open
  • Press the Enter key
  • This will open a new window with the information you need. See this article for other ways

If you’re using a Mac:

  • Click on the Apple icon in the top left corner of your screen
  • Click on About This Mac
  • This will open a window with the information. (See this article for more.

I hope you feel a little more comfortable with your computer skills.


Which Windows operating system am I running?

Find the macOS version number on your Mac


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About the Author

The Technology Shaman, Cate Eales, has been helping people make online computing safe, accessible, and fun for over 30 years.

Cate lives in Kelowna with her husband, Eric. She owns and operates Computer Care Kelowna, a mobile computer business providing on-site service for home and small business customers.

Cate is here to help you and your home or business computer get along.

E-mail Cate at [email protected] with comments, suggestions, or questions.

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