The power of waiting

01Aug08

If you have a broadband Internet connection at home, you’re probably familiar with the seemingly universal troubleshooting process for when problems arise. Can’t connect? Sites loading slowly? Just power cycle the modem and router. These steps are so deeply ingrained in the tech support process that you can be sure the support rep will ask you to perform them — even if you diligently followed the same mantra before picking up the phone.

Thus, I admit with some embarrassment that I had a very typical broadband issue recently: some pages wouldn’t load. I rebooted all the gear, but things still weren’t right. So, I contacted tech support and asked them to check for routing problems on their network. They said all was fine, and asked me to not just reboot my modem, but to unplug and reconnect all the cables too. I followed their instructions, and somehow the problem was resolved.

Later, I figured out why their rebooting process worked and mine didn’t. While I was fishing out cables and reconnecting them, the modem and router were turned off. This extra delay, which perhaps only amounted to 30 more seconds, apparently cleared out some cached information that my earlier 10 second power cycle did not. In a roundabout way, this brings me to the moral of the story for customers and support reps alike: when a troubleshooting process involves turning things on and off, it pays to wait a little bit longer than you think. Somehow, a lot of gremlins can be vanquished in those few extra seconds.



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