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Practical Computer Advice
from Martin Kadansky
Volume 11 Issue 1
January 2017
Label Your Wireless Network, Printer, and Computer, It Will Help You Later

The problem
Have any of these ever happened to you?
  • You load blank-on-one-side scrap paper into your printer and print a document, only to realize that you loaded the paper into your printer the wrong way, so you've just printed on all of the "used" sides and the blank sides are still blank.
  • You're finally talking to a Comcast or Verizon support person on the phone after waiting on hold. You reset your cable modem like they suggest and your call gets immediately disconnected because you were talking on the phone line supplied by that modem!
  • You replace your wireless router (or combination router and internet modem) and now you can't print to your wireless printer, or your computer or smartphone or tablet can't connect to Wifi.
  • You put your original in your scanner the wrong way so the pages you've just scanned are all blank or upside-down.
Frustrating, right?

My simple solution
Rather than having to figure out problem like these over and over again, I recommend labeling your equipment with time-saving notes to yourself in advance, as well as right after you've solved such a problem. Information on small things like these can be really helpful but difficult to remember. See below for my advice on a variety of notes that might be useful to write directly on (or near) your equipment.

And if paper labels or post-it notes don't appeal to you, these can just as easily be notes you type into a document on your computer or your phone, pages in a nearby paper notebook, etc., as long as you remember to consult them when there's a problem with the given piece of equipment. If you do use post-it notes, add some scotch tape because the notes' glue will fade over time.

Label your internet modem and wireless router
If your internet modem and wireless router are separate devices, I recommend labeling them with the following information:

  • "XYZ Modem - I provide internet [and telephone] service - Do not reset me or unplug my power if you're talking on my landline, switch to cell first!" - replace "XYZ" with the name of your service, e.g., Comcast, Verizon, etc.
  • Customer service/technical support phone number
Wireless router:
  • "Wireless router - I provide the wireless network - If you replace me, you'll need to tell your computer, wireless printer, smartphone, tablet, etc."
  • Name of the wireless network
  • Wireless password, or "see password chart" if you don't want to leave the password out for anyone to see
  • Username and password for the "administrative" side of the router, which lets you or a technician control the router's settings, including its Wifi name and password
  • List of devices that use the wireless network, e.g., computers, wireless printers, iPhones, iPads, Androids, scanners, TVs and other appliances, etc.
If you have a single device that is a combination internet modem and wireless router, you would combine all of the above.

And, just in case someone might replace this equipment and walk off with your label, consider posting these notes nearby rather than directly on the equipment.

Label your printer
What are the most useful things you might need to know about your printer? I suggest:
  • Make and model number, especially if it's difficult to read, e.g., HP OfficeJet 4630
  • Ink or toner cartridge types and product numbers, e.g., "Black: T101, Color: T102"
  • Purchase date
  • How to load blank-on-one-side paper for re-use, e.g., "load blank side down, head first"
For a scanner or multifunction printer:
  • How to load an original on the scanner's flatbed, e.g., "Load original face down, with top right corner of page in this corner"
  • How to load an original in the scanner's ADF (automatic document feeder), e.g., "Load original face up, with the top of the page to the left"
And for a wireless printer, I also suggest:
  • Name of your wireless network
  • Wireless password, or "see password chart" if you don't want to leave the password out for anyone to see
  • Name and location of your wireless router, e.g., "Comcast modem in living room," "Netgear on second floor," etc.
  • And if it's helpful, a note reminding you that "I [the printer] need to know the wireless network name and password, so update me if your XYZ modem or router gets replaced," where "XYZ" is the name of your service, e.g., Comcast, Verizon, etc.
Label your computers
What are the most important things you might need to know about your computer at a glance? I suggest:
  • Operating system, e.g. Windows 7, Mac OS X 10.11, etc.
  • Make and model number, e.g. Dell Inspiron 3647, iMac 21.5", etc.
  • Purchase date
  • Name of antivirus software, e.g., Norton, McAfee, etc.
  • Name of backup system or software, e.g., Carbonite, Acronis, Time Machine, Time Capsule, etc.
  • Contact information for your computer support or repair person
  • How to take a screenshot to capture what's on the screen, in case there's an issue or error that's difficult to explain to your computer support person
Where to go from here
  • The next time a problem or question comes up regarding your equipment, ask yourself, "When this happens again, will I remember it, or should I write it down?" If writing it down makes sense, add that information to the label on (or notes about) your equipment.
  • What other information have you found helpful to write down about your equipment?
  • http://www.kadansky.com/files/newsletters/2008_02_27.html - "What's this thing on my screen?" - How to take a screenshot
How to contact me:
email: martin@kadansky.com
phone: (617) 484-6657
web: http://www.kadansky.com

On a regular basis I write about real issues faced by typical computer users. To subscribe to this newsletter, please send an email to martin@kadansky.com and I'll add you to the list, or visit http://www.kadansky.com/newsletter

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Copyright (C) 2017 Kadansky Consulting, Inc. All rights reserved.

I love helping people learn how to use their computers better! Like a "computer driving instructor," I work 1-on-1 with small business owners and individuals to help them find a more productive and successful relationship with their computers and other high-tech gadgets.

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