Today on Tommy T’s Random Ruminations – “Simplest Fixes” edition

Simplest fixes are often the best ones

In my tech support days, we got a lot of calls from users having trouble connecting to their VPNs (virtual private networks). One user had called us three different times with no resolution. He was (rightfully so) extremely pissed off, as he was a high-level executive working from home, and many miles from his office. Previous techs had changed his password, run traceroutes to the VPN server, and even deleted / rebuilt his VPN account on the server.

Nothing had worked, and the user had already spent a lot of time on the phone with us. I have always known that the first rule of troubleshooting was to address the basics first, then go for the lesser and lesser common probabilities in order.

So – I asked the user to just delete his wireless adapter in Device Manager, then reinstall.

VPN connected instantly. He demanded to know why VPN hadn’t been working when all his other internet connectivity was fine. I explained that the part of the TCP/IP protocol that VPN uses is way up at the top complexity level of the stack, and that even minor issues with wireless connectivity can be caused by issues with the drivers that control the wireless adapter.  Uninstall/reinstall reloads the drivers – problem solved.

Then, he asked WHY the previous agents hadn’t tried this.  I hemmed and hawed a bit, and distracted him by asking him to access some of the secure folders that his account gave him access to.  He was just glad to get his VPN access back, and I thanked him and closed the call. Total call time – around three minutes.

He did send a very nice commendation email to my Supervisor and Manager, so it was a good day.

One of the techs who had tried to assist the user before actually called me up and asked how the hell I had done it. When I explained, there was a long silence on the other end of the phone.

Life’s a lot like that, frankly – the simplest remedies are usually the right ones. Don’t overthink shit and go for the most complex fixes first. They’re usually not what’s wrong.

2 thoughts on “Today on Tommy T’s Random Ruminations – “Simplest Fixes” edition

  1. Goes back further than wireless, and VPNs. That was usually the most common fix for network issues in the ethernet days, the twentieth century, reinstall the network adapter.

    Had one user rightfully pissed that he couldn’t use a tunneling protocol (pre-VPN) without re-booting the computer, though the problem was invariably they had a stock-ticker open that compromised the internet connection.

  2. This sort of thing happens to me all the time at work. Someone will call me with an issue that multiple people have tried and failed to fix, and I find the issue right away and fix it. Then the customer is mad that they had to call in so many times before it got fixed and I’m left awkwardly explaining that it’s an issue that could be easily overlooked, I’ve worked here longer than most people, I have more technical knowledge than most of my co-workers, or whatever the excuse that best fits is.

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