The case of the missing laptop RAM

One of the best tech support programs in the industry for years has been the ProSupport program from Dell, which routinely answers within 10 seconds and offers excellent techs who actually try to help. They have married that effort with a next-day onsite repair offering (delivered by Unisys), which is also impressive.

But no program is perfect. The problem with these combined services is that when things get screwed up, it’s next-to-impossible to identify where the fault lies. That disclaimer now fully disclaimed and that caveat all caveated, let me share  the story of my latest tech support nightmare surrounding a Dell laptop.

It started with the laptop’s inability to handle Skype and Zoom calls, with both the microphone and the audio system failing. (That’s especially problematic in this pandemic-forced, remote-work world.) After toying around with it for a few hours—including lots of restarts and switched cables and different headsets—I reached out to Dell Pro and quickly connected.

We both initially suspected an audio driver problem (and, eventually, that turned out to be precisely the problem), but testing and updating drivers didn’t work. We eventually found that Microsoft had overwritten a Dell driver (thanks, Redmond!), though initial tests suggested all drivers were correct and up-to-date.

After several extensive tests later, the conclusion from Dell was that the motherboard needed to be replaced. I’m not wild about replacing a motherboard, but I agreed and the tech was scheduled to do the deed the next day.

By the way, having a tech visit during the days of COVID-19 is not easy. We set up a table for him to work right by a basement backdoor, so that he would be in as little of the house as possible. He did his work meticulously, replaced the motherboard, reassembled everything — and the audio problem was still there.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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