Identifying computer problems
Whenever your computerized device acts up, first isolate the problem as specifically as you can so you can perform effective troubleshooting on your own. You’ll also save time and money if you have a good idea of what caused the problem in the first place if you end up needing to call tech support or a computer repair technician.
All computer problems fall into one of two general categories:
hardware problems and software problems. It may be tricky as some malfunctions could be caused by problems from either camp, but step one is always trying to identify which you are dealing with. Hardware problems are usually easier to isolate, but they cost more to repair. Software issues are harder to isolate, but they often cost less due to the lack of physical labor involved with making the repair.
A hardware problem is something that is directly related to the physical system; for example, if there’s no image on the display, the computer simply refuses to power on, the monitor displays odd colors after start up or the keyboard doesn’t work.
Basic steps to identify and/or solve the problem:
- Is your device plugged into a working outlet?
- Is everything turned on? If something seems to be not working, make sure the brightness is up or the volume unmated or the on switch is in the appropriate position depending on what you are having issues with.
- Is your mouse, keyboard, speakers, monitor, etc plugged in to your device? Did you try a different port, if one is available, to see if it is the port or the device that is damaged?
Software problems usually manifest after the booting process. Having an unresponsive operating system or applications that no longer work properly is clear evidence of a software problem.
Basic steps to identify and/or solve the problem:
- Did you try a quick reboot?
- Are all your programs updated?
- Is your anti-virus software running?
- Has your computer started acting up after a new program was installed? Try removing that program.
- Have you tried uninstalling and reinstalling a program that has suddenly started malfunctioning?
There is also plenty of help to be found around the Internet if you like to fix problems yourself, but be very cautious of more complicated repairs that take you into depths of your computer you are not familiar with. Computer users can inadvertently cause more and larger problems when interacting with system files or other important software components.
As you are trying to identify the problem with your device, it is a smart idea to take notes. Write down exactly what the computer is doing, and not doing, as well as any specific error codes that may come up. You should also take notes of what you do to try to fix the problem and the effects. This will help you, when you can’t remember what you have already tried, but it will definitely make the repair process easier if you find you need to hand off your device to a qualified computer repair technician.
There are many different options to consider if you have a laptop or desktop computer that needs repair.
How to find computer repair services?
There are plenty of repair services out there; however, figuring out the best one for your specific problem can be difficult. You can search the Computer Repair category for computer repair shops in your town.
Professional technicians can diagnose, repair, upgrade and offer expert advice. Due to vast experience and knowledge, a technician will most likely to be able to identify problems with your machine and repair them quicker and more efficiently that you could.
Viruses are the most common reason people seek computer repair services. Signs that a computer has a virus include slow performance, inability to launch programs or unfamiliar programs launching independently. Early detection is key. Consult with a computer repair technician to find out what can be done. The fact is, the technician has probably seen the problem before and can have the computer up and running again quickly.
Other services of computer technicians include:
- Replacing broken parts of hardware.
- Fixing glitches in software.
- Upgrading components, such as adding a larger hard drive or more RAM, to help a computer work at a higher level.
- Recovering data.Even if the computer itself cannot be repaired, technicians can often retrieve data from a broken or failing hard drive.
Computer repair questions to ask
Before you make a hiring decision, ask prospective computer repair companies the following questions:
- How much do we charge?
This discussion can be about hourly rate or project estimate. Many customers often forget to ask about the hourly rate and then find themselves in the awkward position of having to pay a lot more than they expected for an incredibly short repair. Even though you might be upset and eager to get your computer up and running again, make sure to discuss expenses in advance.
- How long will this take?
Ask how long the repair will take? Some may take a matter of minutes, but in some instances, you may have to leave your computer with the technician for days or even weeks.
Follow these computer maintenance tips:
- Install anti-virus security software: Your computer may have come with a pre-installed anti-virus system, but be sure you have one and it is set up to regularly search for and destroy malware on your machine. There are plenty of quality free programs such as AVG, Avast or Avira available if you need them, but no matter what, it is vital to protect your computer against viruses.
- Consistently back up stored data Create restore points. Be prepared for the worst by regularly backing up your files on the hard drive or an external hard drive to be extra safe. It is likely that your computer came with a program to create system restore points (System Restore on Windows computers and Time Machine on Macs) that save a complete version of your computer that you can return to later. This is very helpful if a virus has completely ruined your machine and you can’t find out how to get rid of it. You simply go back to before the virus was introduced. Be sure to set up the programs to automatically create regular restore points or you can install third party programs to do this as well.
- Keep your system and programs updated.Software developers regularly put out updates for everything from your operating system to programs you use regularly. These updates make sure your software is running top notch, but updates also regularly plug security holes so you will want to install updates as soon as you are notified of them to protect yourself against malicious viruses and spy-ware.
- Uninstall unused programs and files: Regularly fragment your hard drive to The free space your computer has on the hard drive, the faster it will run so if you have old files you don’t need or old programs you don’t use, clear them out. You will also want to regularly do a disk cleanup to clear out junk files that get downloaded by your browser or temporary program files that take up space. Also, regularly fragmenting your hard drive will keep your computer running smoothly. Your computer likely has a tool you can use to set up a routine fragmentation.
- Practice safe browsing habits: Much of the malicious software that wrecks computers find its way to your device through your own unknowing clicking. Protect yourself by always reading the web address before you click a link in a search result, never clicking through on a suspicious pop-up window, never giving out login information even if the requester claims to be from a reputable company and never opening an email or email attachment you are unsure of.
- Clean out dust and grime: Accumulates outside and inside the machine. Built up dust can cause overheating and is to blame for lots of computer breakdowns. This is simple to avoid by regularly using a small vacuum to remove dust and then spray with compressed canned air. For tower-style desktops, you will want to remove the side panel to carefully clear the dust inside the tower every three to six months for optimum performance.
- Plug your desktop into a surge protector.Electric storms can irreparably damage sensitive components inside your computer. The simplest way to protect it from power surges is to plug it into a surge protector.