Have you tried turning if off and on again?

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear TOTO? The American rock band of the same name?, the Wizard of Oz?

Turn it off and turn it back on again (TOTO) not just a witty one liner from a Channel 4 late-night comedy…it’s a reference to start from scratch, reboot, clear and setup again amongst other things.

Not limited to IT Support or Roy and Moss’s IT Crowd antics, I called our service desk a while back asking why my PC was running like a snail when transferring a 10mb file. Apparently I’d not turned it off for over a month! Completely baffled by my IT issues I was ordered to TOTO, the problem here was not the method suggested for a fix, rather the sales pitch, I simply wasn’t convinced that a TOTO would resolve anything and felt like most people would feel, fobbed off.

A while later, after the 127 Windows updates had been applied; my machine was running like a dream again, and herein lies the problem.

Control Centre Power Button

Image by William Hook http://www.flickr.com/photos/williamhook/

Re-booting, re-applying, re-setting, re-authoring

Re-booting, re-applying, re-setting, re-authoring are all legitimate forms of troubleshooting a problem, the difficult part is presenting them in a manner which convinces the user (internal or external) that the re-whatever is required and part of a process, so that the user does not think that they are being fobbed off, or even worse, that we don’t have a clue.

Sage Practice Solution alone is supplied with 11 additional non-Sage components and SQL server. Throw in Anti-Virus, third party applications and those 127 updates, suddenly there’s plenty of room for conflicts! Each or any of these may of provided a prompt to reboot after it stealthily applied its overnight update, more than likely it neglected to tell you whatsoever.

When looking at data, you can deal with user error, software glitches and corruption. Refreshing, resetting, reapplying makes sure the following is achieved; we fully understand how something was applied, we can replicate problems, problematic or missing data is reset etc. I could go into more detail but that would mean getting more technical, I’ve hopefully made my point.

My only advice with a TOTO is to properly educate a user why you’re doing it, sell your reasoning to them and when you get it right you’ll be seen as a technical wizard not a hopeless IT bod. For the times you’re wrong, you stay confident and ensure the user the TOTO was not a waste of time, and you are now confident of what the issue is definitely not, and that the TOTO was part of your overall process of elimination.

When to TOTO?

So when to use the TOTO? Do I do it first; last, in the middle or do I do it at all?

The answer lies somewhere in the following:

  1. The impact on the user (will a server reboot stop an entire Practice from working, or is there more we can do beforehand?)
  2. Alternative information being supplied when troubleshooting (what does the PC event viewer tell you, log files, diagnostics etc.)
  3. Historic happenings (is it a Tuesday morning, directly following a batch of Windows updates?) Did you catch the comment the user made earlier, something about ‘locked files’…

Even with all the above, I still cannot say with certainty when it is or is not the correct time to TOTO, but what I can say is that it is only done once a user has bought into it, and fully understands why I’m advising it. Why do we do this? To protect the overall customer experience.

Steven Cartlidge, Sage Accountants’ Team

  • Adam Calverley

    sound advice steve.

  • Darren Hall

    Nice blog Steve! It shows the legitimate method behind the madness of TOTO, when applied correctly mate.