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The PEBKAC Error: What it is and How to Fix it?

By Steven, on January 27, 2023, updated on January 31, 2023 - 3 min read

PEBKAC stands for “Problem Exists Between Keyboard And Chair” and is a widely used acronym in the tech support community when referring to an error caused by a user.

It is used to describe the missteps that can occur when users are not given adequate education and information on how to use technology correctly. This kind of error can lead to costly delays in IT operations, so being able to identify and fix them quickly is essential.

Why do PEBKAC errors occur?

At its core, a PEBKAC error occurs when a user does something wrong or doesn’t understand the proper way to use their computer or other technology.

This could be anything from incorrectly entering a command or forgetting certain steps when completing a task. It can also happen if a person doesn’t have the proper training in using the equipment correctly.

The acronym “PEBKAC” was created as a light-hearted way of describing this type of user error. In most cases, these types of problems are caused by human error rather than technical issues. 

Perhaps the user wasn’t adequately trained on how to perform a certain task or they made an honest mistake while trying to figure out how something works.

In any case, the root cause of PEBKAC issues is usually lack of education and experience with the computer system or application.

How to Identify PEBKAC errors?

Identifying a PEBKAC error versus a technical one can be tricky. It often requires an experienced technician to properly identify the problem.

Common symptoms of this error include:

  • The user is unable to complete a task that they should be able to do with their current level of training.
  • The user does not understand how the technology works and is not able to explain what they are trying to accomplish.
  • The user is making mistakes that are out of character for them.

Here are some examples of how these issues might manifest:

  • A user tries to print a document but presses the wrong button, resulting in the document being deleted instead.
  • A user forgets how to save a file and spends hours trying to figure it out.
  • A user doesn’t understand how to use a specific piece of software and has difficulty completing tasks within it.

How to troubleshoot and resolve PEBKAC issues?

When faced with this type of error, IT professionals must take steps to troubleshoot and resolve it as quickly as possible.

Here are best practices for addressing it:

  • Identify the issue: Before attempting to troubleshoot, it is important to identify the problem and determine whether it is a technical or a human error. This can usually be done by asking questions and observing what the user is doing.
  • Provide education and training: IT professionals should provide the user with education and training on how to use the system or application correctly.
  • Follow up: After providing the necessary education and training, IT professionals should follow up with customers to ensure that they understand how to use the technology correctly. This could involve walking them through a task or providing additional assistance if needed.

How to prevent PEBKAC errors?

The best way to prevent this kind of error is to ensure that customers are properly educated and informed about how to use technology correctly. Here are some strategies for improving user education and awareness:

  • Provide adequate training: It is essential that customers are properly trained on how to use their computer or other technology. This could include providing tutorials, videos, or written instructions.
  • Create user-friendly documentation: Creating user-friendly documentation that is easy to understand and follow can allow users to become more comfortable with technology. This could include steps on how to perform certain tasks or troubleshooting tips.
  • Encourage feedback: Gathering feedback from users about their experiences can help IT professionals identify areas where people need additional education and assistance.

PEBKAC: what to remember?

PEBKAC issues are common in IT support, and it’s important for tech experts and professionals to be able to quickly identify and resolve them.

By providing users with adequate training and resources, as well as monitoring user activity and responding to feedback, you can prevent a “Problem that Exists Between Keyboard And Chair” and keep your systems running smoothly.