Sometimes an application or computer which has been functioning properly for a long time suddenly becomes unstable. The once dependable program crashes, it runs slower than normal, it won't print, it won't download files, it won't receive e-mail, it won't let you view a website, etc. I can't count the number of times these types of problems have caused a user to reach out for help. Many times, I've listened to users and heard their desperation and helplessness. They have a deadline to meet, payroll to process, or claims to process.  Whatever the problem is, it always seems to happen at the worst time.


Why does this happen and what can we do to resolve these types of issues or even prevent them from occurring?


Well, there are several reasons these problems occur and I'm going to attempt to shed some light. Obviously, it’s not plausible for me to give you a solution to every problem you will encounter, but it is possible for me to help you look at the problems from a different perspective and teach you how to approach solving those problems when they occur.


Even better, I hope you gather enough knowledge from this article and try some of the recommendations. This article is not specifically about ElderSuite, but rather, all business productivity applications or computers in general. Again, I won't be providing specific solutions for every situation. My goal is to provide a good starting point for self-diagnosing the common computing issues you will likely encounter or have encountered.


Applications we depend on daily can run for months or even years without issue. We often become so reliant and trusting of them that we it for granted. We just expect them to work as they should! After all, it's just a computer...right?


When an application or computer starts to behave irregularly, fails to respond, becomes slow, freezes up, and simply acts like it's “sick”, we don't seem to be very forgiving. Don't beat yourself up about it, I've been guilty of this behavior myself. It's even a natural, human response to think there is something wrong with the specific application that started acting funny. We may try many different things attempting to fix the issue. Naturally, we assume the problem is with the application itself. And, when it happens often enough, we can get lose trust in the application. Our last resort is to call for help.  So, we contact the software vendor and complain about how the application isn’t working.


When I handle a support incident, one of the first questions I ask when encountering a “mystery” problem is, "When is the last time you restarted your computer?" Most can't answer that question because they don't remember. If the user doesn’t remember, then that means it's been way too long! However, some users remember, and some have even been trained to restart their computer when issues occur. Most times, restarting your computer magically fixes things. It fixes things because it's simply a computer which was created by humans and executes applications written by humans. And, we all know that humans make mistakes! Restarting a computer is akin to wiping the slate clean.


When I take a support call, the first thing I do is listen to the user explain their issue. Generally, I can determine rather quickly if it's an issue with ElderSuite or something random. So, if their problem is of the latter, then one the first things I normally do is ask them to restart the affected computer. After the restart has completed, I ask them to attempt their task again and determine if that helped the situation. The percentage rate of success with this simple solution is mind boggling. So, my first recommendation is RESTART YOUR COMPUTER AND RESTART IT OFTEN! How often? I would say turn it off when you leave for the business day and restart it when you return for your next shift. By doing this, you are ensuring the computer is starting with a clean slate, replenished from any memory leaks or un-disposed processes still running and still consuming resources. Issues just occur when a computer is left running for long periods of time. IMPORTANT NOTE: My recommendation is to RESTART the computer by powering it off and on. DO NOT simply put it in SLEEP MODE or STANDBY MODE. If you don't turn the computer off and allow it to restart from a complete shutdown then you are not actually restarting or rebooting the computer. The computer must go through its normal cold boot-up sequence to reset itself. If it isn't allowed to go through a normal restart/boot-up sequence and was only put into one of the previous POWER SAVINGS MODES, the previous state of the computer won’t change and be starting with a clean slate. When using these power saving modes, the current state of the computer is simply saved to disk to prevent slow startup times on next use, OR it is simply put in a reduced power consumption state.


Another common I have encountered is that the offending application has updates that simply haven’t been installed. There could have been changes made that are required via an available update. Missing updates often resolve known issues. Our software, ElderSuite, checks for updates automatically.  However, those updates checked each time ElderSuite is started and the user can decline to update at that time.  ElderSuite will only force an update install when it is closed by the user.  So, if you rarely exit ElderSuite you are delaying the installation of updates and you won’ t using the latest version. Many applications require you to check for updates manually.


Occasionally, you need to reinstall an application because something the application relies on was changed. This change can prevent the application from function properly and a simple reinstall can sometimes fix your problem. If you feel the need to reinstall ElderSuite at any time, you can always download the latest version from our website at www.eldersuite.com. However, if ElderSuite loads successfully and isn't producing and reporting errors to us, then the issue is likely elsewhere. In this situation, a reinstall of EldeSuite likely won't fix your issue. However, it never hurts to initiate a reinstall. ElderSuite doesn't change or access your system registry and doesn't require dependencies to function which and are not included with the installer other than the .NET Framework which is provided by Microsoft and include in the operating system (Windows). So, sometimes reinstalling the latest version of the .NET Framework provided by Microsoft can alleviate issues.


Moving on, if the previous recommendations don't solve your issue then there is still something causing your issue. Start asking yourself some questions. When did this problem start occurring? How often and when does the problem reveal itself? Is it constantly or occasionally? If it's occurring occasionally, what else is going on at that moment your problem pops up? What else is the affected computer processing when the issue starts? Is the issue occurring while the software is idle and not being used? Is it when you are printing a document? Is it when opening a record or a document? Is it when saving a record or document?


I would investigate a few other things. ElderSuite is dependent upon your Internet connection. A slow-down in your network/Internet connection could affect the performance of ElderSuite and cause it to appear "frozen" and unresponsive while doing certain tasks like opening or saving records. ElderSuite also runs lots of tasks in the background. Most of those tasks are multi-threaded, meaning they won't affect the ElderSuite's responsiveness while performing other tasks. The multi-threaded design prevents ElderSuite from appearing unresponsive or frozen while performing long tasks or tasks that rely on a faulty Internet connection. These tasks run on a schedule in the background. They will even retry a failed attempt until successful. These failed attempts are usually caused by intermittent Internet connections issues and you aren't made aware of them because ElderSuite simply retries the operation in the background until successful or notifies you when it has reached a retry threshold. This allows you to continue using ElderSuite uninterrupted by these issues. For example, your Client List is periodically updated or refreshed in the background, but even during the update/refresh you can still access and use other parts of ElderSuite. This is because the update/refresh is running on a background thread and uses different CPU resources than those required for clicking other items, open other records, or entering information in other fields, etc. If that update/refresh fails on the first attempt, ElderSuite simply retries again, but it doesn't notify you of the failure because it is only retrieving the latest information from the database to be used by you when needed.


So, if you are experiencing repeated failures while opening or saving records, reports, etc. from within ElderSuite, there is likely a network or Internet connection issue because ElderSuite has stopped retrying and is instead notifying you that the operation can't be completed. To begin diagnosing these types of problems I would first check your Internet connection status. It may not be functioning at its peak performance level or you are experiencing a service outage. What do I mean specifically by "checking your internet connection"? I mean I would restart your network and all devices connected to the network. Your network consists of your computers and other devices that are ALSO no more than simple computers designed to perform a specific task. Those other devices/computers are any networking equipment including routers, switches, cable modems, DSL modems, etc. If you're an ElderSuite customer, you are not likely using Enterprise Grade or Highly Availability networking equipment. This doesn't mean your equipment is of poor quality, it just means that these devices are required to be restarted occasionally. Enterprise Grade/Highly Available equipment is VERY expensive compared to what you are likely using. This type of equipment is designed to run for long periods of time (1+ years) before being required to restart unless there is some type of component failure. For example, unlike our datacenter, our general offices don't use Enterprise Grade/Highly Available networking equipment. Instead, we have our routers programmed to reboot ever night while not in use. Basically, restarting this grade of equipment periodically ensures the network is performing at its highest possible level.


Restart Your Network:


1.) Turn off all computers and devices connected to your network, i.e. computers, printers and phones.

2.) Unplug your Cable/DSL modem and any network routers.

3.) Once, you have completed the shutdown then first restart your cable/DSL modem.

4.) After about 2 minutes restart your network router.

5.) A couple minutes after that turn on your computer and other Internet connected devices.

6.) Run an Internet Connection Speed Test. You can do this by visiting www.speedtest.net in your Internet browser.


Other Items To Check:

Check your anti-virus software settings. Sometimes anti-virus software can slow or "freeze up" ElderSuite because ElderSuite isn't trusted by the anti-virus software and it is locking files permanently or temporarily while performing an in-process scan. You need to make sure that ElderSuite is added to the anti-virus software's "Trusted Applications" list.

Check for available operating system updates (Windows Updates). Sometimes, these updates address issues which can affect dependent components such as the previously mentioned .NET Framework.


Last, but not least! Have you recently installed any new software, new operating system updates or connected any new devices to your computer? Occasionally, a poorly written software installers can change system settings which affect other components or applications relying on the settings which changed. Additionally, just about any device I can think of which you would connect to your computer requires the installation of software or drivers. That installation is sometimes performed by the user, but it can also be updated in the background without your knowledge. Basically, newly connected or updated devices can occasionally cause problems.


If you are currently experiencing issues and you have tried the suggested solutions, I hope your issue is resolved or your performance improved. Keep in mind, these are only basic solutions and tips and won't solve every problem but should be a great starting point and likely solve most problems. If you aren't comfortable completing any of the recommendations or if you continue to experience problems, it is likely time to engage a local technician.


In conclusion, my reason for writing this "novel" is: If restarting your computer and/or network doesn't solve your problem, the issue is that something on the affected computer or network has changed, or there has been a hardware failure. Software DOES NOT simply stop functioning or change the way it previously functioned unless something has changed or there has been a hardware failure. If you are still experiencing issues, either knowingly or unknowingly, then changes have occurred and are the cause.


The way I would approach resolving your issue is to go through the provided steps. Most of these recommendations should be easy to accomplish. However, if you are uncomfortable performing the tasks or you have already completed the tasks with no resolution, it’s time to consider engaging a local technician.


Thanks for listening!

Vincent Cotton

MicroSolutions



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