Computers are built to be efficient, reliable machines. There are times, however, that computers crash, and result in data loss and system instability. Your computer may hang, send error messages, or worse, no longer work at all. For computer users, troubleshooting problems is a very important skill. If you know how to fix a computer, you can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars in repair jobs, professional fees, and even going so far as to buy a new one. Here’s a quick guide to fixing common computer problems.
The Troubleshooting Sequence
Many computer users tend to think that the only way to fix a computer problem is to call tech support, or worse, to unplug the computer from its cables and start tinkering with the sensitive parts inside. When fixing your computer, think of yourself as a doctor; doctors will not immediately wheel a patient off to surgery for a simple cold. It’s very important for you to follow the proper troubleshooting sequence to avoid causing serious harm to your computer:
* Identify the problem. While almost all computer problems are caused by improper use, errors in software and hardware configurations may also cause computer problems. Malware, spyware, and viruses can also cause serious computer problems. List all the possible causes of your computer’s problem before attempting to resolve it.
* Resolve the problem. Every computer-related problem or error has at least one solution. Start with the simplest solutions first before attempting to perform complex ones, like making changes in the boot sequence or tinkering with hardware.
* Repeat. If your computer hangs or crashes for some reason, chances are that you have more problems in your computer than the problem you have already resolved. Use you operating system’s utilities, along with third-party diagnosis and computer repair software, to run a thorough check on the reliability and the stability of your computer.
Most minor computer problems, like hang-ups and stalled programs, are easily repaired by restarting the computer. Reboots abort the processing sequence and start your computer working again with a relatively clean slate. While rebooting a computer is the only solution to an operating system that hangs, or a program that refuses to close properly, it does lead to problems like data loss and fragmented data on the hard drive. It can also cause actual physical damage to the hard drive and the computer’s cooling systems if you’re not careful.
There are two types of reboots that you should use in specific instances:
* Soft reboot. For almost all computers, the soft reboot sequence starts when you press together the “Ctrl,” “Alt,” and “Delete” keys. Soft reboots are recommended for computer crashes that need to be resolved quickly. A soft reboot also puts less physical stress on your computer’s moving parts.
* Hard reboot. For serious errors like Blue Screens of Death (BSOD), or if your computer does not respond to a soft reboot, you need to restart your computer through the “Restart” button. Sometimes, you may need to turn off the power switch, and turn it on to resolve the problem. A hard reboot puts added stress to your computer’s moving parts, but many problems can be solved by this solution. Make sure to run disk scanning and to defragment your hard drive to ensure the safety and integrity of your data.
Start With Software, Then Proceed to Hardware
Remember that disassembling your computer is always the last resort to a computer-related problem. Most software-related computer problems can be repaired with simple troubleshooting techniques at the software level first, and does not need to proceed to a hardware-level repair job:
* Update the software. Software-related computer problems are common especially after release, and programmers release a solution called a “patch” that resolves the particular problem. Update the particular program to resolve the reliability and stability issue.
* Configure programs. Sometimes a conflict between two or more programs can cause computer problems, or you may have programs are not adequately configured to fit the specifications of your computer. You may need to reinstall programs, or reconfigure them through the Control Panel or program utility tools.
* Uninstall unnecessary software. If you have unlicensed software or a load of programs you do not use, the stability of your computer is compromised. Schedule a disk cleanup and keep programs you use frequently, and to free up hard drive space and memory allocations.
* Reformat. If software updates do not solve the problem, you may need to start over with a clean slate. As long as the hard drive is not very old, you can always reformat it. Quick formats should not be performed on hard drives when you’re erasing all the data; instead, use a full format that erases and reconfigures the drive right down to the allocation tables. Make sure you have a backup of all data before reformatting your hard drive.
If you do need to tinker with hardware, be absolutely sure that the problem is hardware-related. You may have accidentally kicked the CPU to dislodge the RAM chips, or that the cooling system has failed and caused your system to overheat. Other than minor, user-serviceable repairs, all hardware repairs should only be performed by a qualified computer technician or specialist. When all else fails, you need to take your computer to a computer technician or call tech support.
Even the most advanced and expensive computers suffer from a few hang-ups every now and then. With these tips to help you repair and fix your own computer, only a few problems will ever bother you enough to get really frustrating.