This page is a resource for troubleshooting technical problems (computer, etc.) while you are in Japan. Please add your own experiences and information to this page as you see fit!
- If you have absolutely no clue and you are at school, consult your JTE or another teacher for help. Each school usually has one person who is generally responsible for the computers at the school and should be able to provide some help.
- If you have absolutely no clue and you are at home or your coworkers are not helpful, consult a knowledgeable friend or ask for help on the mailing list or the forum.
- In most cases it will probably be difficult to get technical service support (other than phone or Internet-based) for PCs/notebooks purchased in countries other than Japan. But, with the help of a knowledgeable friend most problems can be fixed right here in Japan.
- Useful links for do-it-yourself tech support: Dell Forums, Notebook forums, Microsoft Knowledgebase, Apple Forums
The golden rule of computing: BACKUP. Hardware is relatively cheap, readily available, and easy to replace. Your personal files are not so easy to replace!! Don't learn the hard way, make regular backups of your critical data and lower your exposure to data loss by following these tips:
- Buy an external hard drive (like these: english / japanese) and routinely backup your music/pictures/documents/etc.
- You can backup by manually copying data or by using backup software to automatically do this. Most operating systems have backup software built into them. Just search (ex: "vista backup") for instructions on how to use them. A nice piece of backup software is Syncback (they have a free version). It is particularly nice if you are moving between machines (work computer / home computer).
- Use web applications like Gmail, Google Documents, etc. to store your email and documents. The application provider, like Google, will backup everything for you and you don't have to worry.
- Burn infrequently used, but important, data to DVD or CD so you can free up space and still access it later if you need to.
- Upload your most precious photos to online albums like Picasa, Flickr, or Facebook. Those providers should backup everything as well, without you having to worry about them.
Backing up your keitai phone book
All of us have keitais and they fill up pretty fast. Losing your contact book to a keitai dropped in the water would be a tragedy so you should backup your keitai phonebook regularly. Backup and restore procedures will vary according to your service provider (check their web site) and the phone you have, but the basic principle is as follows:
- Purchase a memory card (usually microSD or miniSD) for your phone.
- Use your phone to backup your contact book to that memory card. This is usually a manual procedure and not automatic, so you need to do it every so often to make sure you have the latest data.
- If the need arises, restore your phonebook using the data from that memory card.
au has a feature called "au one Address Book" which can backup or restore your contacts over the air (no SD card needed). It's usually found in the tools menu.
If your computer has died (you can't access the operating system) and you need to access the hard drive, then consider and try the following. First, you need to determine how serious the failure is. If the hard drive itself is fine (it can be seen by the bios) then recovering your data should be a simple matter of attaching the hard drive to another machine and copying the data you need off of it. If your hard drive is more seriously damaged then retrieving data can be very difficult. There are data retrieval companies that offer services to extract data from even the most mangled hard drives, but these services are often VERY EXPENSIVE and take time. Do yourself a favor and back things up!!
Many of you have notebook computers. If you have an undamaged notebook hard drive that cannot boot to an operating system here is how you can go about getting your data.
- Take the hard drive out of the notebook.
- Plug the hard drive into an external, 2.5 hard drive enclosure (like these: English). Make sure you know what type of hard drive it is so you get the right enclosure (IDE, SATA, etc.).
- Plug the drive into another computer (usually via USB) and copy your data onto that machine.
- Plug the notebook drive back into the notebook and do what you need to do to get the operating system working, then copy your data back onto your notebook (and backup in the future!!!).
If you aren't that tech-savvy you will probably want a friend who is to help you. The enclosures can be easily found on the Internet in Japan or certainly in Den Den Town in Osaka or even at the major electronics outlets.
Bring your laptop to work
Many JETs have laptop PCs and in many cases (particularly language wise) it may be easier to use them at work rather than the school provided computers. Here are some points to consider:
- Use virus software to prevent viruses from getting onto your PC. Your school may ask that you do this as well. A good free one is Avast.
- Connecting to the Internet using the school connection is usually as simple as simply plugging in a network cable. You may have to set proxy settings in your web browser in order to let these applications to see the Internet. Consult the resident tech at your school for help or check a fellow teacher's PC to see how theirs is set up.
- Respect the network use policy of your school. Sometimes they forbid chat applications, certain web sites, etc. Generally speaking, however, you will find that you will have little trouble if you are just checking email, Facebook, and other general web sites.
- To access shared network resources like file servers, printers, etc. you will probably have to join your laptop to a network domain. This usually requires an administrator's password and then you will need your own user account on that network. It is usually not worth the trouble to do that unless you have to access those resources and there is no other way of doing it.
- I use my laptop at work but I do not join it to the domain. When I need to print something I simply copy it to a USB stick and then plug that into a computer which can see the network and print from there.
Is Google's web browser. It is lightweight, fast, and very nice for browsing. It updates itself automatically, via an invisible program. This program reads the proxy server settings from the same settings that Internet Explorer uses. If you have to go through a proxy to get to the Internet and you notice that Chrome is not updating itself automatically, make sure that "Automatically Detect Settings" is UNCHECKED in your proxy settings: Customize(wrench icon)/Options/Change Proxy Settings/Lan Settings
My computer is slow
If you have a computer that takes a long time to boot up, start programs, load web sites, or is just generally sluggish, consider these tips and points:
- Check how much RAM you have. More is better, especially in Windows.
- Uninstall unnecessary or unused programs (computer makers often preload a lot of crap, 90% of which you do not really need).
- Run a spyware detection/removal tool (Spybot is popular) to clean out programs surreptitiously installed.
- Empty the recycle bin, fix disk errors, defrag the hard drive, etc. (Microsoft Article)
- Do not use your Desktop as a dumping ground for every file and icon. Clean it up so it is almost bare and just has links to your most frequently used resources and applications.
- If you have Vista, turn off the graphics-intensive Aero features (see this).
- Examine the programs and services that are set to start automatically when the computer boots and disable those that you do not need.(see this article; Autoruns).
- Use Process Explorer to get a view at what programs are really running on your computer and how much memory and processor time they are consuming.
- Sidebars on the desktop like in Vista and Google's side bar are nice, and useful, but resource hogs and not really necessary. Disable (Vista sidebar disable) or uninstall them.
- Unstoppable Copy: If you have a hard drive that has physical damage on it (cyclic redundancy errors, etc.) but can still be accessed you can often recover data off it using this tool to copy data off. It may take a little time but even damaged files can often be made useable again.
- Audacity: a free audio editing program.
- Switch Audio Converter: a free audio file conversion program.
- Camstudio: Record desktop activity and sound on your computer to a movie file.
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