Can You Actually Fix Your Tech by Slapping It?

Technical “emergencies” are often much simpler than they seem . And sometimes the easiest solution of all (or the one that seems the most instinctive) is to go into “daddy mode,” by which I mean you simply and elegantly kick the crap out of your remote until it works again.

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We at Lifehacker are mere mortals, and we, like everyone else, are tired of technology. Take, for example, Senior Health Editor Beth Skwarecki , who shared with me how she learned to fix her old car’s fuse box with a quick kick. Or staff writer Steven Johnson , who once had a wrecked car that wouldn’t start until he opened the hood and hit it with a hammer. (People are supposed to be really impressed that he could open the hood and start the car.) Then we have our resident expert, Senior Technology Editor Jake Peterson , who often finds himself slapping the remote control in desperation, just like you.

That’s why old-fashioned violence is sometimes an effective way to get your electronics working again.

It’s called shock service and it works (probably)

While the idea of ​​hitting the tech conjures up the image of my father hitting the TV with a clenched fist, there is reason to be angry. A fancy term for this method is known as “percussion service”. According to Techopedia , percussion service in IT is “the art of shaking, tapping, or tapping something to make it work.”

In some cases, impacting the physical hardware is enough to fix the problem. That’s why this method works for battery operated remotes or older devices with parts that may be misaligned or corroded.

Again, for a battery-operated device, you can probably achieve the same effect by rolling the batteries over their slots, or simply taking them out and putting them back in.

Percussion maintenance sounds official, but that doesn’t mean the pros really respect it. Many IT professionals find this approach more emotional than rational. And yet, for many electronic devices, there is a non-zero chance that percussion maintenance will work.

Press, don’t hit

The key to percussion maintenance is to still apply force carefully. PopSci explains that “a good hit can temporarily fix an intermittent connection, but that’s risky.” Don’t turn into an emotional caveman and wait for your technique to magically start working again.

It is by this logic that you should never try the percussion service of something like your smartphone. Your phone does not respond well to rough shocks, and you run the risk of severely damaging the device’s internal components. Think about it: when was the last time you saw someone launch their phone across the room to make it work better?

Impact maintenance may work if the device has moving parts such as gears (which may have been jammed), or perhaps a loose wire that can temporarily restore the circuit after a hard touch.


There is some logic to hitting certain appliances to make them work again. However, the emotional benefit may outweigh the rationality of this technique. What’s more, the risk of your devices being hacked may outweigh the potential reward of a nice slap. Ultimately, true “percussion service” is best left to the professionals.


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