As a managed IT Support provider we have compiled a list of the most common IT technical issues we see on a day to day basis while managing over 4,000 Microsoft endpoints.
Here is what to look out for, and how to solve them.
The (IT) Golden Rule: Reboot your machine
TL;DR: Rebooting works most of the time: any device; any issue.
Although almost an IT cliché at this point, you will be surprised how many problems this resolves immediately. There are many working parts to a computer these days, both software and hardware; and any one of these not working as expected can cause issues.
Rebooting your system allows it to restart all these underlying services and refreshes your whole set-up all at once. If you log a ticket with us, the service desk will often ask if you have rebooted your device before proceeding with any other troubleshooting steps.
This really is a sort of panacea for wide-ranging issues – you should always try this first.
IT Support never really changes - "Have you tried turning it off and on again?"
That being said, let’s have a look at some specific IT technical issues I, as a service desk engineer, notice come up regularly…
Issue #1: Outlook not updating – I have not received any new emails
Outlook is essential to many of us, and it can be extremely debilitating when this is not working. Here’s some basic troubleshooting steps to try
The first thing is to check to bottom status bar on, this is universal on all versions of Outlook and looks like this:
If this does not advise you that you are ‘connected to Microsoft Exchange’, then this will usually give you a good indication as to what the cause is of the issue is:
- If you see a ‘Disconnected’ status, then check your internet connection. Often you may not have realised you have lost access to the internet until emails are no longer coming in.
To resolve, test your website access - if you cannot open a web page you 3 have found the issue and should reconnect to your network. If this is not the case, you may then want to try disconnecting from your Wi-Fi (or pulling out your cable) and reconnecting to refresh.
- A ‘Working Offline’ status indicates that Outlook is attempting to operate without checking back with the online email Exchange.
This can be fixed by selecting to go back online from the Send/Receive menu and deselecting the Work Offline button.
- And the most common of all; ‘Needs Password’. This usually occurs when your password has recently been changed or if you have multi-factor authentication; a request to verify your code is required.
Simply close Outlook and when the program restarts you should be presented with a prompt for new credentials.
Issue #2: Outlook display – I have access to additional mailboxes, but they will not expand
This seems to be a common issue when mailboxes have recently been granted access, or recently added to your Outlook.
In this case, it is important to remember to be patient, especially if you are using a cloud-based email exchange like Microsoft 365 (AKA Office 365).
This is because permission changes that are required to access the additional mailbox take some time to propagate and syncing the emails to your device takes longer still. Changes can take up to an hour to take hold.
Check that your Outlook is connected to exchange as in the point above and wait for a bit.
If this is for a mailbox you could originally open and/or you have waited for the original mailbox to sync and you are still seeing this message, then you may need to run a scan using the in-built Outlook Inbox Repair Tool called ‘ScanPST’.
If you feel confident, you can run this tool on your device without the need for admin credentials, otherwise, contact an expert like Concise.
Firstly, locate your active PST file by going to File > Account > Account Settings and then clicking the datafile tab on the top. This will display a location where your Outlook profile is stored. If you click ‘Open file location’ it will open up in your directory. Take note of the path to this file; it will usually look like this: C:\Users\username\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook.
You can find the tool by searching “ScanPST” in the installation directory of MS Outlook, normally C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\root\Office16. After running it, you can select the target PST file you found in the above, scan and repair it by following the onscreen instructions.
Be aware that you will not be able to use Outlook at all during this time and the process usually takes about 30 minutes to complete.
Issue #3: Display Issues – I used to see this monitor and now I cannot
This issue is more common these days, probably due to the increased popularity of multiple monitor setups. Occasionally, monitors will fail to connect, and this will often result in the resetting of your open windows and applications to one screen.
Check your cabling, more-often-than-not your connecting lead will have become loose or accidentally pulled out if the table moved or it got caught on another wire.
Remove your laptop completely, from any docking station and reconnect it; this will refresh all the connected ports and hopefully return you to normal.
If the above physical connection seems fine, it could be software related, specifically the driver for the video card/display adaptor in your machine. Often new drivers are bundled with Windows updates from the manufacturers themselves – If you have been delaying that ‘reboot and update’ message, consider that it may be time to bite the bullet and update your machine.
You can review individual drivers in the application ‘Device Manager’ on your machine, but to do so you will need to be an admin and know what you are looking for, so it is probably best at this stage to give your support company a call.
Issue #4: NetExtender VPN connection – I keep getting a Remote Access Service (RAS) error notice to reboot
Many users will be using Dell VPN software called NetExtender to connect remotely to their organisation's network.
A common fault window is the one seen above. The solution is a simple one; unplug your phone from the device’s USB port.
This is because it is being mistakenly identified as a network adaptor and is trying to connect here rather then using your computers in-built network hardware. Once unplugged, you may need to reboot to clear the error, but your VPN should behave normally once the phone is unplugged.
Issue #5: Email Undeliverable – I am emailing my contact and have got a bounce back email
When sending an email to a recipient, if you get an email back with the subject ‘Undeliverable’, this means that your recipient has failed to receive the email.
There are a multitude of reasons for this occurrence, but you may be able to address this quickly yourself if you follow the below steps:
- Resend the email again after a few minutes. Occasionally, emails are bounced because the recipient server timed out. Giving it a few minutes can sometimes then clear the queue it was dealing with and allow it to process your message.
- Check that the recipient's e-mail address is correct. Look over the address and check that there are no errors present. Common errors are using the wrong suffix (this is called the top-level domain), for example typing the address as ‘.com’ when it is in fact a ‘.co.uk’ domain address, using commas instead of dots or just generally misspelling a name.
- Check the email address you have sent this email from. Is this your own email address or an additional mailbox you have access to? If it is the latter, have you sent from this email address before, and do you have the permissions to do so. Try sending from a different address.
If the above solutions do not resolve the issue, then you need to log the issue with your IT support provider to investigate.
The most important piece of information, your support company will need is a copy of the bounce back email. It is important that you do not forward the email. This is so that your email contains all the information of the original bounce back.
To copy an email, right click the bounce back email in Outlook, select ‘Copy’ and then paste this onto your desktop. This will create an envelope with the subject of the email as its name. Then attach this file to an email like you would with any other document, to raise a support issue. Where your support provider can review the attached document.
Elliott Baron is a Service Desk Engineer with 3 years+ experience, and has access to advice and anecdotes from colleagues with a combined 400 years+ experience.
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