Monday, May 10, 2021

How to get quality technical support from home

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After completing a brochure design for my client and upon hitting Command-S I noticed something strange. Instead of saving to my iMac, my document was saved to the bootable clone on my external backup drive. Curiosity turned to horror when I realized that my Macintosh HD icon was missing from my desktop. Heart pounding, I texted Mike, my IT guy, “Need you now, wyd?”

“I’m here,” he replied. I expired. Thank God.

When I left my corporate advertising job to freelance full-time from my home near Philadelphia, I reveled in the freedom of being my own boss, but I quickly found that there were certain needs that weren’t there. could be satisfied solo. There is nothing like the practical expertise of a professional who has an intimate knowledge of the ins and outs of the technology I use.

I provide creative services and marketing advice to hospitals, and my tech needs are pretty straightforward. My hardware doesn’t have to be the latest, but it does have to support the current versions of the software I’m using and provide the RAM and storage I need as a graphic designer. I need on-premise and cloud backup systems that are scheduled to run automatically. And I want a reliable resource for occasional troubleshooting and advice. I no longer have the safety net of an IT department to turn to. Instead, I have Mike.

After my urgent text message, he sent me a link to download TeamViewer, software that allowed him to remotely access my computer. Once logged in, it entered my backup drive which was mounted on my desktop. I watched it breathlessly as it moved through my system and opened folders that I rarely touched. His voice in my ear was soft as he prompted me to enter my password. Moments later, my reverie was shattered as Mike confirmed my fears. “You’ve been working from your bootable clone for three days,” he says. My hard drive was gone, my 27-inch iMac shrunk, indeed, to a monitor.

The pandemic has changed jobs, forcing millions to turn to working from home. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the US Department of Labor, 21.8 percent of employees surveyed telecommuted because of the coronavirus in November, against 21.2% in October. These figures do not include freelancers or employees already working remotely before the pandemic.

Even if your setup is limited to a laptop, printer, and cloud backup account, the point is, computers crash, apps crash, and files go missing. If you are working from home, having top notch technical support is invaluable. When you are independent like me, it is vital. If I can’t work, I don’t get paid.

When my iMac died in July, Mike helped me order a new one, customizing the features to suit my personal needs. Due to the pandemic, deliveries from Apple have been significantly delayed. I continued to work in the meantime, thanks to the redundant backup systems he had set me up with long before – something I never could have done on my own.

Mike has been my computer scientist for 20 years – a second long relationship after my 30 year marriage and enthusiastically supported by my husband. Although I consider Mike my own, I have been willing to share it with my wife on occasion.

We met at my last job. Mike worked for the IT company that served our art and advertising departments. After I left and started my home business, I called his business whenever I needed technical support, paying corporate rates for the comfort of his familiar face. Years later, when Mike became independent, it was obvious to go with him. His new hourly rate was less than half of what I was paying before and, most importantly, I was dependent on him. It was my guy.

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