Whether your desktop computer is two days old or two years old, at some point you are going to run into a problem with it. Given how we all rely on our machines these days, what to do you do when that does happen? It pays to know at least a little about troubleshooting a computer so you can identify and fix the problem quickly without having to send it in for a potentially expensive repair.
Today I thought it would be fun to focus on some of the most common problems you will run into and what you can do to work around them or fix them so you can get back to work. While this article isn’t the be all, end all to computer repair, my hope is it will provide you with at least a small foundation of knowledge that you can build upon later so you can troubleshoot your computer problems yourself and figure out what is going on.
So, without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the most common computer problems and what you can do to repair them.
Compute slowdowns are probably the most common problem encountered by computer users around the world especially when running cheap desktops or laptops. One day the machine is fast, but the next it seems like you can feel yourself aging while you wait on it to do its thing. There are many common problems that cause computers to slowdown. Let’s examine a few of the most common and what you can do about it.
- Viruses and Malware – If you have picked up a virus or other type of malware while surfing the net or opening files, this can easily cause your machine to slowdown and is usually the most common reasons you see. Run antivirus and antimalware scans and then remove anything they deem a threat. When done, give your machine a good reboot and see if the problem goes away.
- Failing or Full Hard Drives – Another common source of slowdowns, a full hard drive doesn’t have the room to store the swap files using by the operating system. This results in slowdowns of your system. On the other hand, a hard drive that is beginning to fail will start to take longer to find the files you need and may even begin to throw up an error or two as well. If this happens, the only solution it to replace the hard drive with a new one.
- Bad Drivers – Drivers control all the hardware on your machine. If you have one that is out of date or one that isn’t functioning properly, you could run into weird slowdowns that appear to happen randomly. In this case, the solution is to update all your drivers to eliminate the problem. If one doesn’t exist for a particular piece of hardware, you may have to stop using that hardware until one becomes available.
- Incompatible or Faulty Software – Not all software is created equally. It is possible to load a piece of software on your computer that just behaves badly and causes your entire machine to slow down. While we all wish every application was a shining example of programming perfection, they aren’t. If you find an app doing that to your system, your only solution is to shut down the app, avoid using it and hope for an update to fix the problems.
- Failing Processor or Motherboard – This is the most serious of all the possibilities when dealing with slowdowns. Luckily, it is also the least common. Still, it can happen. When your motherboard or processor begins to fail it will not be able to process and transmit data properly. The result is what appears to be a slow machine.
Random Shutdowns or Reboots
Another particularly annoying problem are random shutdowns and reboots. Now, first I can tell you that these can be related to power problems that we discuss below, but there could be other causes as well.
For example, if your machine randomly freezes and then reboots, you could be having a heat problem. Maybe your case fans have stopped functioning or they have become clogged with dirt and dust. Open the case and check the fans to see if they are running. Blow out every vent and fan to remove all the dust and debris that could be preventing proper air flow. If it still happens, you could be experiencing a more serious hardware problem.
These problems can be tough to diagnose as they could be a problem with the power supply itself or even the power in your home but it could be simply a bad connection inside the case or even a failing motherboard. My best advice when dealing with these issues is to first make sure the computer is stored in a cool environment and has been properly cleaned. Then gradually eliminate each problem starting with the power supply and its cables both inside and outside the case and working your way in.
Another really common problem experienced by desktop users, display problems can really ruin your day. You turn on your computer and you get no picture whatsoever. What do you do? Before we get into that, let’s take a second to look at smaller video issues.
If your screen is fuzzy then you probably have the resolution set incorrectly for your monitor. Every monitor has a default resolution where it displays its picture the best. Play around until you find it or check your paperwork to learn which one it is. If your screen is dim, then try raising the brightness in your video settings. Of course, these could by symptoms of much worse problems that you will encounter in the future. Let’s take a look at those.
If your screen is dim and no amount of brightness will help it, the backlight on your monitor could be going. You will either need to replace the light or just get another monitor entirely. The same goes if it is fuzzy and it is running its native resolution. Of course, you could have a cable problem as well. So make sure you change those before you go out and buy a new monitor.
Of course, if you get no picture whatsoever, you have bigger problems. First, your monitor could be completely dead of the backlight is completely burned out. When this occurs, it is usually best just to replace the entire monitor when you start looking at the price these days. Of course, it may not be a monitor problem at all. You could be having issues with your video card. Try connecting another monitor to it. If it comes on, then it is your monitor. If it doesn’t, then it is either the port on the video card or the video card itself. If your video card has extra ports, try using one of them instead. If nothing happens, then it is time to search for a new video card for your desktop. Don’t worry, that can be fun.
Many people call me wondering why they can’t run as many applications as they use to or they wonder why things slow down. When you run multiple apps at the same time, they all have to be loaded into your system memory. If your memory is low such as in the 4GB range, then you could experience slow downs or some apps simply won’t load at all.
To remedy this, you have two options. First, you can just not open as many apps at the same time. While that is a sure fire fix, it isn’t always convenient. Second, you can upgrade the amount of RAM in your desktop. As fixes go, this is one of the cheapest out there. If you have 4GB, try upgrading it to a minimum of 8GB. If you still want more, take it to 12 or 16GB instead.
Another frustrating problem that can manifest itself in many different ways, power issues can often be hard to diagnose even for an expert if they don’t have the right equipment. Still, there are ways you can narrow it down.
For example, if your computer won’t turn on, check the power cable, power strip and outlet. If you have power and you are sure the cable is good, then chances are your power supply in your desktop is dead and will need to be replaced. Pop in a new one and plug it all in and give it a test. If you still have problems, you are looking at something more serious such as a motherboard or processor problem.
Calling in Professionals
While I am a big believer in making the repairs yourself, I recognize that not everyone is a computer expert and many of you simply don’t have the time to try and deal with it yourself. That is okay. If you troubleshoot the problem and believe that you aren’t qualified to fix it or don’t have the time to fix it, then by all means call in a professional. You may have to take it somewhere or they may make a house call, depending on the business.
Just remember that in most cases there will be added charges and fees for using a professional as you will have to pay labor charges on top of any parts and diagnostic charges. If you are alright with that and that sounds better to you than diving in and doing it yourself, go for it.
There is nothing quite like diagnosing a problem and repairing it yourself. It will give you a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment that is very difficult to describe, but I promise you it is there. All you need is a little knowledge and you can easily troubleshoot many of the most common problems yourself without having to call in a professional to do it for you.
By doing so, you will not only get that great sense of satisfaction by doing it yourself, but you will also save yourself quite a bit of money in the process. So if you are having problems with your desktop, instead of hauling it in for repair, why not try to do it yourself right in the comfort of your own home. I think you will find that overall it will save you both time and money. Oh and don’t forget the bragging rights of being able to repair your own desktop yourself without the help of anyone else. I promise you that is a feeling that really can’t be beat.