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The Most Common Types of User Error and How to Prevent Them

Posted June 10, 2015by Ben Barker

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Completely eliminating user error is impossible. No matter how hard we may try, it simply isn't feasible to expect to completely eliminate user mistakes from the scope of issues that affect managed IT services. So what is the next best thing? Well, it would seem like identifying the most common forms of user error and taking the best measures to prevent those issues is a good start.

With that in mind, we reached out to the people who know user error best, you! We asked you (via Reddit and Spiceworks) to tell us about specific cases of user error that you see the most and how/if you attempt to educate your clients in order to reduce or eliminate those mistakes.


What Are Users Doing?

The term "user error" covers a wide scope of issues. User error can mean anything from dropping a computer and damaging the internal drive to clicking on a cleverly disguised email that contains malicious content. But what are the specific mistakes that you are constantly seeing that have you pulling your hair out? Well, we asked this very question on both Reddit (MSP subreddit) and Spiceworks and your responses were quite interesting. Take a look!


Passwords and Logins

Passwords and logins seemed to be a recurring theme throughout our threads. Whether it was impatience with the login attempt or users simply forgetting their account information, passwords and logins were the front runners when it came to examples of user error.

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Email and Internet

Social engineering has made it difficult for users to distinguish a harmful spam email from a legitimate one. As "ColtsFanMN" mentions, users really need to think hard and examine attachments and links before clicking them.

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Not Being Proactive

The final issue that we heard about may be the easiest to prevent. If a user doesn't report an error, it can be very difficult or even impossible to fix. Of course, with Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM), often times you won't need the end user to report the error. Still, it doesn't hurt. 

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What are You Doing About It?

After looking through your responses, what we already knew was verified - user error is an issue. Although it can seem impossible to break users of their bad habits, we gathered insightful and helpful responses on methods that you are using to discourage unsafe behavior. 


Inform the User

Never forget that you are the expert. Although some users may not take the time to read the "best practices" documentation that you provide, it certainly doesn't hurt. Offering consistent updates on current risks and vulnerabilities is a good way to keep the information fresh in their minds and hopefully reduce the amount of error that the user is causing.

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Eliminate the Root Cause

One participant has developed an interesting approach to reducing user error. In addition to providing the users with helpful information, "snewoh" described some measures that he/she has taken to eliminating the root cause of the issue.

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In the end, eliminating all user error is a difficult, if not impossible task. From what we have heard from you, the best course of action is to make all of the necessary information available to users and set them up for success to the best of your abilities.

 

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See also:

Ben is a graduate of Emerson College and a huge Boston sports fan.

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