TechMeme Friday: From the Tech Support Trenches

Tech Support Kitty MemeBefore I was a Technical Marketing Engineer at NetApp, I got my start in the trenches of technical support. I started at a small company as a help desk technician. In that role, I’d receive emails, calls or help desk tickets and use my troubleshooting super powers to try to fix an issue in a semi-reasonable amount of time. But when you start out in IT, you aren’t blessed with the decade or so of experiences (including mistakes made) that you may have now, so you learn a bit by trial and error, like our feline friend.


People often laugh and joke about tech support with the “did you try turning it off and on again” meme, but there’s actually some truth to that approach. Powering off a system and turning it back on again does the following (more or less):

  • Stops all processes and services that were previously running
  • Starts the system back up in a specific order and restarts services that may have been having issues previously
  • Clears caches that may or may not have been stale

Troubleshooting Process


So, there are some real, valid technical reasons to “turn it off and on again.” However, tech support experience tells us that we shouldn’t resort to such extreme, disruptive measures at the start of the troubleshooting process. There is a methodology to follow and ways to fix problems in less disruptive ways. For instance, the OSI model can teach us how to follow a proper process to troubleshoot issues.


Start with physical (i.e. is it plugged in?) and work your way up the stack to the application layer. Chances are, you’ll find the issue before you even get to the application.


That way, you can fix just about any system (including Windows!) without having to reboot.


Of course, there are times where you will still need to reboot a system, but you can do it with the peace of mind knowing you exhausted all your other options first. Pro tip though; don’t chew on the wires.

Community Manager

Justin - you nailed it and with great humor!  thanks for the post