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Help Desk Problems

46 - The most common helpdesk pr-min

IT helpdesks in large organizations are often extremely busy places, with staffing and budgetary issues that can affect the ability to deal with large volumes of help requests – which is a major problem with help desks and their resourcing.

By knowing the most common issues your users experience you can be prepared to put strategies in place to assist the helpdesk to function in a more streamlined manner, such as creating an IT helpdesk troubleshooting guide. This will not only improve the efficiency of the helpdesk but will enable you to achieve higher levels of customer satisfaction. In this article you will learn more about common it help desk problems and solutions.

Common IT helpdesk problems and solutions

When you’ve been working on your company’s IT helpdesk for long enough you start to get a feel for the sorts of issues that employees will call up and ask about.

You may have different questions to these ones depending on what industry you provide support to (for example your employees may use specialized software that generates a lot of calls to the help desk) but in general, these are the most common help desk problems and solutions people call to get advice on:

1. They can’t log in.

Whether they’ve forgotten their password or left their caps lock on while trying to type it, these users can’t access the systems until the helpdesk comes to their rescue. It’s probably one of the most common requests you’ll find in any IT helpdesk troubleshooting guide.

Solution: Make sure the employee isn’t trying to enter a password with caps lock turned on. Also, check to see if the password has expired, or the account is suspended due to inactivity. Send the employee a password reset link. Other solutions can involve establishing a self-service password reset portal or adopting password management software in your organization.

2. They’ve deleted files they shouldn’t have.

In many cases, you’ll get a call from someone in a panic wanting to know how to recover files they have sent to recycling or files that were in the recycling bin that has since been emptied

Solution: First check to determine if the file is in the recycling bin or not. If the recycling bin has been emptied, you may need to reinstate the file for the user from the server backup.

3. Computer is too slow.

This can often be a simple fix because the user has too many windows and applications running at once, using too much memory.

Solution: Assess the user’s CPU usage to determine if they have too many apps running at once – especially if these use up a lot of memory. Remove any temporary files from the Windows folder with the user’s permission and delete any large unused programs and files taking up space on their hard disk drive. Also, check that the user does not have viruses or malware on their machine.

4. Internet outages.

Users are unable to connect to the internet or wifi for a variety of reasons that may require troubleshooting or may be related to a general, system wide outage.

Solution: Determine whether or not there is a widespread outage being experienced across the company. If not, work with the user to troubleshoot why they might not be able to connect to the internet.

common help desk problems

5. Problems with printing.

The reasoning behind this can vary from the printer not actually being turned on in the first place through to issues with how their printer settings are configured to physical problems with the printer itself such as a paper jam.

Solution: Identify the specific issue. Get the user to check the printer is turned on and that the printer is showing up for them to print to. They may need to add a specific network printer in their settings. For other issues such as paper jams, talk them through the instructions from the manufacturer relevant to the specific machine.

6. User has lost access to the shared drive.

There are many reasons why this could happen, but it generally involves the IT help desk mapping the network connection so the user has their share drive access reinstated.

Solution: Ping the server to see that the user is able to connect with it. Then you will have to help them to remap their network drives so they can access them once more.

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7. Computer has a virus.

This isn’t a great scenario and solving the problem can be quite complicated. This machine needs to be isolated from your network immediately so that it doesn’t impact the company more widely

Solution: Immediately have the user remove their machine from the network. The next steps will depend on the actual virus that is on the machine and what is needed to remove it.

8. Keyboard or mouse aren’t working.

This is a problem in particular faced by users who have wireless/battery operated keyboards and mice. At some point the batteries will die, catching the user unawares.

Solution: Determine if the Bluetooth connection between the mouse, keyboard and computer is established and working. The next step is to get the user to change batteries.

9. Blue screen of death.

The BSOD is another of the most common IT help desk issues. It can mean different things and users will panic when they see it and call the help desk straight away.

Solution: The Blue Screen of Death indicated a system crash. Often the issue is caused by either the hardware or one of the computer’s drivers. Sometimes all it needs is a quick reboot. If this fails, you may need to get the user to disconnect any unnecessary hardware to eliminate external causes. Also, attempt to boot the machine in safe mode. Other solutions include checking the hard drive for bad sectors and installing any necessary updates.

10. Computer won’t start.

Again there can be a range of reasons for this from the computer not being plugged in, the battery is flat through to the hard drive being broken.

Solution: Step the user through various potential fixes such as ensuring the power cord is plugged in and switched on. The next step is to get them to perform a reset. If it still isn’t working, you may need to deploy tech to investigate further.

When you have common IT help desk requests you can take the pressure off your staff by using tools and creating resources especially for the job. For example, you can assist employees with the most common help desk problems and solutions by placing frequently asked questions on your intranet site, create a self-service kiosk for employees, or use DeskAlerts to send notifications to the entire organization when there is a known IT issue affecting multiple users.


What are the most common IT issues?

The most common IT issues experienced by companies today involve:

  • Cyber security (for example phishing, poor password hygiene, hackers and other unauthorized access to information)
  • The use of outdated software and equipment (including a failure to update and patch software, not returning equipment at the appropriate stage of its lifecycle, failure to perform other maintenance)
  • Issues with new technology implementation
  • Data loss from outages, malfunctions, human error and cyber-attacks (including a failure to put appropriate power protection in place to avoid critical data loss from a surge)
  • Failure to back up important information
  • Not having an IT strategy in place including preparing for resourcing issues, which is a major problem for help desks
  • Using unlicensed/illegal software

Why do enterprises need an IT help desk service?

IT issues can affect your company’s ability to function. If you don’t have an IT helpdesk troubleshooting your issues in-house, your employees will face lengthy periods of downtime whenever something goes wrong with the IT environment that they are unable to troubleshoot for themselves. An IT help desk is a single point of contact for your employees to get IT assistance on a range of issues from the straightforward through to the catastrophic. Having a help desk can help you to identify any patterns or trends that are emerging in terms of known issues so that you can appropriately respond. The help desk is also invaluable should there be an outage, cyber-attack or other widespread issues.

What are the types of problem-solving methods?

Problem-solving skills are highly prized in today’s workforce. There are several different problem-solving methods that can be employed by IT professionals and others to find solutions to known issues. These include:

Trial and error: where different solutions are attempted over and over again until eventually there is a successful resolution.

Difference reduction: where large tasks are broken down into smaller steps to determine which step will get the closest to finding a solution.

Means-end analysis: where the current situation is compared to the result that you would like and you identify the most significant differences between both situations.

What is the most common IT help desk problem?

The most common problem fielded by many help desks is related to password issues, including forgotten or reset passwords. Users often require assistance with login credentials, leading to frequent support requests for password resets and account access problems, particularly in the context of IT and online services.

What are the typical challenges faced by IT service desks users?

Typical challenges faced by IT service desk users include technical issues like software or hardware malfunctions, network connectivity problems and password resets. They also encounter difficulties in accessing or configuring applications, dealing with slow system performance and seeking guidance on using software tools. Communication breakdowns, unclear error messages, and issues related to remote work setups are also common IT help desk issues, requiring timely and effective support from IT service desks.

How do you fix common IT problems?

Fixing common IT problems often involves taking a systematic approach. Some of the most common help desk problems and solutions are:

  • Identity the issue including symptoms and error messages.
  • Begin with basic steps like restarting the device, checking cables or connections, and verifying internet connectivity.
  • Consult a knowledge base or documentation for known solutions. Many problems have been addressed before and documented.
  • Ensure that all software and drivers are up-to-date, as outdated versions can lead to issues.
  • Run antivirus and anti-malware scans to identify and remove threats.

What are common IT issues?

Common IT issues include:

  • Software problems
  • Hardware failures
  • Connectivity issues
  • Security breaches or virus infections
  • Data backup and recovery issues
  • Login and other access issues.
  • Problems arising from software or operating system updates.
  • Software or hardware not working well together.
  • Sourcing, setup, and compatibility of new IT equipment.
  • Supporting remote workers and ensuring secure access to resources.
  • Printing Issues
  • Mobile device problems.

What are the threats to the help desk?

Threats to help desks include:

  • Social engineering - scammers impersonating legitimate users to extract sensitive information or gain unauthorized access.
  • Malicious requests - attackers seeking to exploit help desk access to compromise systems or data.
  • Phishing attacks - deceptive emails aimed at help desk staff, tricking them into divulging confidential information.
  • Credential theft - breaches leading to stolen login details for help desk accounts.
  • Insider threats - disgruntled or compromised employees posing a risk to help desk operations.
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