Desktop support engineers are an integral part of the IT support world. In the IT support world, the real heroes are Desktop Support Engineers. Desktop Support Engineers are the heart of IT Pros. Do you agree with this? They are the real persons who interact with end-users regularly.
Who are Desktop Engineers?
Desktop Engineers can influence the end-users in their day-to-day use of workstations (desktops and Laptops) and mobiles. But do they really get that much attention? I don’t think so.
It’s high time to give them proper credit for the support they do for all of us and the technologies we work with. They are the real heroes among IT Pros. Whenever we have got an issue with end-users desktop or laptop with any of the applications like SCCM, Lync, Skype, Microsoft Outlook Registry, WMI (I know WMI is not an application), etc.. who is the last resource will come to our rescue (maybe help to reimage the machines). Aren’t that desktop support engineers?
We’ve also created a Facebook group for Desktop Support Engineers, Technical Support, and Help desk engineers, if you’re interested, feel free to join https://www.facebook.com/groups/DesktopEngineers/
I’ve received loads of queries from freshers about the skills required for Desktop Support Engineers. What is the % of work Desktop Support Engineers perform in different areas? I know the in and out of desktop support engineers’ life as I spend my initial 4 years of IT career as a desktop engineer, which I’ve mentioned in this post here.
There is a question mark in Desktop support engineers (this is applicable for Technical Support / Helpdesk Engineers as well) mind how to move forward in their careers. How to get into server support and How to get into SCCM support? How to get into Exchange or Office 365 support?
So no shortcut here; you need to learn basic IT skills first, then proceed with the learning of specific technology. For example, I’ve got a post about “How to Learn SCCM ConfigMgr and Intune“.
Desktop support engineers must have basic knowledge of everything in IT. They should know how to troubleshoot application-level issues, network-level issues, how network printers and scanners will work, How to troubleshoot Operating System-level issues, new smart mobile devices troubleshooting, etc.
So, in my opinion, they’re the real all-rounders among IT Pros !! So desktop engineers are not just desktop engineers. They are true all-rounders with knowledge of all the technologies and applications in this modern world.
4 Pillars of Desktop Support Engineer’s Learning
Let’s talk about the below 4 pillars and how Desktop Support Engineers can learn.
- Application issues
- Networking issues
- Managing and maintaining systems that run Windows client Operating Systems
- Supporting phone / smart mobile devices and users
This post is to enrich and support desktop support engineers. When you work as a desktop support engineer, then your foundation is very strong, and you know the basics of all the technologies used in the world of IT. This kind of knowledge always helps people to the next level in their careers.
Also, loads of freshers in India want to come out of BPO jobs into IT pros. I would suggest they start with Desktop support for some time so that you’ll have a great foundation in your IT career. Do you agree? By the way, all the jobs are good. I don’t think that only IT jobs are good.
Also, I feel desktop support engineers should be part of Microsoft events, IT Pro User group meetings, attend online seminars, etc.. to keep themselves updated about the new upcoming technologies. I feel that most of the Desktop support engineers are not very keen to attend any of these events.
As mentioned in the above list, be thorough in each area !! Following are some basics that may help “Freshers” coming into IT as Desktop Support Engineers. This is not a full-proof list of things that a desktop engineer needs to know; however, these are some tips to get you there.
How to install, Identify the cause of, and resolve application issues
Sample questions in this category! What is the difference between the MSI file and .EXE file? What is the difference between server OS and desktop OS?, What is BSOD? How do you troubleshoot it? How can you take backup of emails in ms outlook? How to uninstall an application? How to remove a windows component like BITs from a workstation?
Installation permissions; local administrator requirement; licensing restrictions; digital signing. Check the event logs, application logs, MSI logs, etc… Also, check whether the application runs in Safe mode; run the application in a previous version of Windows; repair the installation; check recently added programs; and restore or reimage the system.
Also, learn some shortcuts to launch add remove programs and other control panel applets. For example, appwiz.cpl to remove windows components as part of application installation troubleshooting. A more detailed list of shortcut command lines for launching the control panel applet from Windows desktops or laptops.
Identifying the cause of and resolving networking issues
You need to be aware of all the following technologies to survive in the desktop support engineer field. What is an active directory? What is DHCP, and what is it used for? What is DNS? What is forward and reverse lookup in DNS? What is the IPCONFIG command? What is a domain?
Solve enterprise logon issues:- Hardware vs. network; password expiry; trust relationships with machine accounts; determining logon context; logon hours compliance.
Solve enterprise network connectivity issues:- Determining the scope of issue; determining whether it’s a PC or a network connectivity issue; TCP/IP; hardware and cabling; proxies; default gateway.
Solve enterprise names resolution issues:- Checking which DNS is assigned; flushing the DNS cache; nslookup to DNS server; checking the DHCP scopes.
Solve enterprise network printer issues:- Hardware failure; server issues; printer failure; network issues; driver issues.
Managing and maintaining systems that run Windows client Operating Systems
Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 8.1 are the client operating systems in production. However, the future is Windows 10, as we all know. So it’s very important to understand Windows 10 operating system in depth. To know more about Windows 10 and Windows 10 Phone, you can go through my posts here.
What are the backup and recovery options of Windows 10?, How to log in to Windows 10 safe mode? What are the modern applications? What are the universal applications in Windows 10? What are domain join and Connect to cloud options in Windows 10?
How to provision Windows 10 machines for office use? What are the main differentiators between Windows 10 and Windows 7 or Windows 8?
Identify and/or resolve performance issues:- Analysing system and application logs; analyzing started services; setting power management; checking hard drive space; optimizing virtual memory.
Solve hardware failure issues:- Identifying bad sectors; diagnosing memory issues; recommending replacement hardware; updating the BIOS; determining which component is broken.
Supporting phone / smart mobile and users
When I was a desktop support engineer, blackberry was the only mobile device to support in an enterprise environment. Now the world is changed; we can have any smartphone that will come for your support like Android, IOS, Windows, etc… I need to keep you updated on all the new platforms. Also, VPN connections and settings are always changing in this modern world.
How to manage mobile devices? What is the application or service used to manage mobile devices? Mobile devices are managed via Air-watch or Microsoft Intune? How the Enterprise or office mails are flowing to mobile devices? How to enroll mobile devices to Air-Watch or Intune?
How to wipe the stolen mobile devices remotely? How to configure VPN access to a workstation? How to perform VPN troubleshooting? How to enable encryption? How to perform decryption on a device?
Solve enterprise wireless connectivity issues:- Signal strength; encryption types; encryption keys; wireless profiles; mobile devices
Solve enterprise remote access issues:- VPN client not connecting; IPv6 support; access and authentication to network resources
Anoop is Microsoft MVP! He is a Solution Architect in enterprise client management with more than 20 years of experience (calculation done in 2021) in IT. He is a logger, Speaker, and Local User Group HTMD Community leader. His main focus is on Device Management technologies like SCCM 2012, Current Branch, and Intune. He writes about ConfigMgr, Windows 11, Windows 10, Azure AD, Microsoft Intune, Windows 365, AVD, etc…