Recently a sad experience by one of my clients underlined for me the importance of proper communication, and explaining computer terms that are well known and understood by those in the industry, but might not be understood by those not so familiar with them.
A client was having problems with her computer. She took it to a repair shop. The technician said to her:
“We will have to send this away for repair. It will likely need to be reformatted. Have you saved everything you need?”
‘The formatting needs changing? I guess that means that they have to change a couple of things to make it work better. I have written down all my passwords, so yes I’ve saved all of that’
He was really saying:
‘This needs REFORMATTING – that term means that all of your files; your documents, pictures, music, videos, emails etc will be wiped off. All of your programs will be wiped off. We will be putting a fresh copy of Windows on. In other words, when you get it back, it will be like you just bought it from the store.
Have you saved everything? In other words, did you back up your files; did you copy all of your documents, photos, music, emails etc onto an external drive so that you can put them all back onto your computer when you get it back?
What about your programs. If you purchased them online and have files that you downloaded to install them, did you save all those installers, and any information about keys, or licenses, so you can reinstall those programs without paying again?’
She did not understand any of that, and was devastated when she got her computer back and found that all of her documents, and especially her photos, were all gone.
Of course, the technician was remiss in not ensuring that she understood the terms he was using, but it is also worth noting that if you are using a computer, it’s good to become familiar with a few important terms such as:
Web Browser File manager
Flash Drive External Drive
Cloud Online Storage
Copy and Paste Drag and Drop
...to name just a few
You can always start a list of terms that you come across that you don’t fully understand, and ask someone knowledgeable in the computer world to explain them to you - or look them up in a Google search.
Also, get familiar with the software that you rely on every day, and know how you acquired it – on a disk or through a download? Was it a trial version that was loaded on your computer when you bought it, and you later purchased the full version? Is it subscription based (you renew it yearly)?
Do you have a list of the license codes for all of your purchased software?
You don’t need to be a computer technician by any means, but familiarising yourself with some key words and phrases can be helpful in better understanding what a technician is explaining to you should you need help. It can also help if you are searching for online assistance, as it can help you better understand instructions you might read online.
If you do face a situation where a tech is telling you something, and you don’t understand the terminology - ASK! Don’t be embarrassed to say that you don’t understand the terms being used. Sometimes techs simply don’t think to explain terms, because they are so familiar with them themselves.
Everyone has their own “are of expertise” If computers are not your area, that’s perfectly ok, but not getting something explained could cost you dearly, as it did my client recently.
One day you might be grateful that you know what Reformat means – and that you knew how to do a Backup!