It’s been more than 20 years now that I’ve been fixing computers, and despite faster hardware and wonder software, they still don’t make coffee and I still find there’s number of hassles that just keep rearing their ugly heads. So in this post I’m going to outline the most common PC problems and what if anything you can do about it, when you need to call a geek like me and when your PC should be retrofitted as a boat anchor.
1. My Computer is Acting Weird.
Funny things happen sometimes with PCs, and although there’s always a logical explanation, the three fingered salute should always be your first attempt at resolving any technologically induced problem. By three fingered salute I am referring to the keyboard shortcut of rebooting your computer. Ctrl + Alt + Del. As strange as it might seem, rebooting (the act of turning the computer off then on again) fixes 80% of glitches. If the salute doesn’t work, hit the reset button, if you don’t have one of them, push the power button in until it shuts down if all else fails unplug the thing! As one GM executive once mused; it’s a good thing cars don’t need rebooting in the middle of the road! Imagine the recall then. Not sure how Microsoft got away with that, but well done you boys in Redmond!
2. My computer is slow
There’s a lot a reasons why this might happen and there are some things you can do on your own. A previous post dealt with this in detail. You can check out this here.
3. My computer won’t start
This is surprisingly common and assuming it’s still plugged in and you’re not having power outages; it’s usually caused by a failed power supply or mainboard. To check which one, if possible try another working power supply first; it’s the cheaper of the two to replace. If your PC is a desktop you’ll need to remove the covers to the case and unplug a spaghetti of wires to do this, so only attempt this if you’re reasonably confident and you won’t void any warranties. If you have a laptop, double check the output voltages on the power unit match the suspect one. Blowing up your laptop is only slightly less frustrating than blowing up your significant other’s laptop, so be careful. If it works with a new power supply you’ve solved your problem, if not you better call a geek. If it’s an old laptop, then it might be time to cut your losses. Replacing a mainboard is a best usually going to set you back $300!
4. My Screen is Blank!
Is it plugged in? No offence for the obvious. Check that the power light on the monitor is on. If it is, either the cord to monitor is loose, the monitor input channel is changed (use the buttons on the monitor to fix this) or there’s some hardware problem. A good sign the monitor is working is to unplug it from the computer while the power is still connected to it (the monitor) the screen should tell you that there’s no video signal or input. If you get this the problem is likely to be inside your computer, better call a geek. If you have a laptop and the screen is blank, you’re kind of down a creek without a paddle and should decide now whether to pay for a repair or purchase a new one.
5. Windows keeps trying to restart, says it’s repairing but it’s doing a lousy job!
This is a hardcore problem not for the faint hearted. Windows is broken and usually requires a complete reinstall. Call a professional and make sure they extract your photos and files before they begin. If you want to go it alone, all bets are off.
6. I forgot my password
This used to be a veritable disaster but there are programs a plenty that’ll let you boot from a CD and switch off the password. It takes more time to set the PC up than to do it, so if you take it to a professional he shouldn’t charge much. I would charge just $30 to do this in-house. If you prefer to go it alone, just purchase one of the many programs like Password Reset Professional. You might need an accessible internet PC first to make a bootable CD as well.
7. My computer is making strange noises
Inside most PCs today there are only three pieces of hardware that actually move and therefore can make any noise. Most commonly a fan, which your PC has at least one (unless it’s a tablet) is making a noise, either the bearing is getting worn or a cable is just touching it, either way it sounds pretty sick, but it’s an easy fix even for DIYers. You have to get to it, which in a desktop involves removing the case covers. Usually just tying back a cable with a zip tie or replacing the offending fan is all that’s needed. Laptops never have loose wires, a noisy fan in a laptop simply needs replacing and can get expensive. Sometimes your CD/DVD player makes a racket. This can be due to a deformed disk or something more evil. Remove any disks from the drive and see if that fixes it. Finally the scariest noise a computer can make is the ticking death cough of a hard disk drive. Mechanical disk drives do fail and when they do; they unceremoniously take your data with them. As a priority, get your important data off that drive before it’s too late. A failed disk needs replacing, and you’ll need someone who knows what they’re doing to do this properly.