Troubleshooting a Faulty Computer System { Hardware and Software Problems }

Hardware and Software are mutually dependent on each other. Both of them must work together to make a computer produce a useful output. Software cannot be utilized without supporting hardware. Hardware without set of programs to operate upon cannot be utilized and it’s useless.

Different software applications can be loaded on a hardware to run different jobs. A software acts as an interface between the user and the hardware. If Hardware is the ‘heart’ of a computer system, then Software is its ‘soul’. Both are complimentary to each other.

 

IDENTIFYING HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE PROBLEMS

[1] Were there any loud noises or smoke when the problem first appeared? Then it is probably a hardware problem, with the most likely culprit being the SMPS (Switched Mode Power Supply ) unit.

[2] Is the computer entirely dead? Or the screen blank? Or the screen showing a poor/incomplete picture? These faults are probably also due to hardware problems.

[3] Does the computer produce a series of beeps? This is a code that can be used to distinguish some hardware problems.

[4] Does the system give any error codes or descriptions while booting? These can be due to hardware or software problems. Take careful note of all information given in the error code.

[5] Does the computer produce error information after it has booted or only when you open specific programs? These error codes are probably due to software problems.

[6] Has the computer been exposed to viruses or other malware? This could be a cause of software
problems.

 

STEPS INTROUBLESHOOTING SOME COMPUTER PROBLEMS

 

[1] GENERAL GUIDELINE FOR HARDWARE REPAIR

(1) Gather together your toolkit: e.g. air blowing machine, screw drivers, software, back up disk etc.

(2) Check for power FIRST, before doing anything else. 10 – 15 percent of all computer Issues/Problems emanate from power surge. Check this BEFORE doing anything else. Check to be sure if the computer is plugged in to an AC outlet properly.

(3) Check your external connections to the computer. Specifically, check the mouse, keyboard, monitor, modem and/or printer cables, making sure that all are secure and in the right sockets.

(4) Perform the Power On Self Test (POST). POST is a set of procedures that a computer runs through each (me it is turned on. It ensures that all of the system’s hardware is working properly before trying to load the operating system. If the computer does not pass POST, it will not boot.
Tip: Make sure the computer turns on. If nothing happens (no lights, no sound, no fans, etc.), the computer has a power related issue.

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(5) If the computer is still malfunctioning, go ahead then and open the case. Check to see that all of the cards are fully pressed down into the bus connections, that any socketed chips are fully pressed into their sockets, and that all cable connections are fully attached. Make sure that the drive cables are attached correctly.

(6) Clean any dust or foreign material out of the case while it is open. Dust can cause overheating problems and electrical shorts. Sometimes, insects will nest inside the case as well. All of this needs to be cleaned out before you close up the case. Take precautions to avoid inhaling excess dust, and
consider using protective eyeware if necessary.

(7) Try to boot the computer to the hard drive, or to a bootable CD/DVD disk if necessary. Sometimes the hard disk will become corrupted by a user, or by a virus.

(8) Check the CMOS setup program, and correct any configuration problems. If the information in CMOS RAM about your PC’s configuration has been changed, or if the battery has died, your computer will not boot correctly, or it will not recognize certain components.

(9) Look for unwanted changes. Someone may have turned the brightness down on a monitor, or the LAN staff may have changed your PC’s configuration without your knowledge (or approval), or an installation program may have corrupted your software. Look for recent changes in your system’s operation. You may need to run an uninstaller program to remedy software – related problems.

(10) Isolate the problem to one piece of hardware, or one software package.

(11) When all these fails, then consult a professional.

 

[2] WHEN THE COMPUTER IS UNABLE TO START UP.

If the computer does not turn on when you press the power button, the following suggestions may help you to determine why the computer will not start up.

(1) First of all, check if the computer is plugged in to an AC outlet properly.

(2) Plug another electrical device into the outlet to be sure that the outlet is providing adequate power. A surge protector can be used in this case, because voltage surges can be very damaging to computers and other electrical components. Then put on the system to perform a POST .

(3) After the POST and it is confirms that, the computer is producing all of the usual startup sounds and lights, but the monitor is not displaying any information, perhaps there is a problem with the monitor. Make sure that it is connected to a power source, and also that the VGA cable is connected to the computer.

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[3] WHEN THE COMPUTER SCREEN IS BLANK

If the screen is blank, the computer may not be set to display the image on the computer screen.

(1) First, check if the monitor is plugged in to a power outlet and is connected to the computer securely and make sure the monitor power button is on.

(2) If the power light is not on, it means that the outlet is not delivering power to the monitor. Fixing the power outlet in such cases should help solve the issue.

(3) If the power light of the computer and monitor is on and nothing comes up on the screen when you start your computer then there must be something wrong with video card. Change its video or the graphics card with a new one.

 

[4] WHEN THE COMPUTER IS ON BUT NOT RESPONDING.

The computer is on but not responding to software or keyboard commands, then it must be frozen or halted.

(1) Press and hold the power button for at least 5 seconds,

(2) It will be turn off.

(3) Now restart your computer. This should fix the problem.

 

[5] WHEN AN EXTERNAL DEVICE IS NOT WORKING.

If an external device does not function as expected.

(1) Turn it on according to Manufacturers instruction;

(2) Be sure that all device connections are secure and receiving electrical power.

(3) Be sure the device is compatible with the operating system.

(4) And that the correct drivers are installed and updated.

{1} REPLACING A RAM

RAM can fail or can loose from its housing and need to be reseated. If a computer needs new or additional RAM, it is important to make sure that the RAM used is compatible with the computer system. RAM is very easily damaged by electrostatic charges, so it is very important for the user to be grounded before picking up RAM. Also RAM should only be handled by the edges.

{2} TROUBLESHOOTING A PRINTER PROBLEM

  • Let’s assume that your printer’s drivers are up-to-date,
  • And that it has enough paper and ink or toner to print.
  • Try turning the printer off and on.
  • Unplug the printer and plug it back in.
  • Check your printer’s print queue by looking for the printer icon in the system tray and double-clicking it.
  • The print queue shows you the status of each job as well as the general status of your printer.
  • Make sure that ‘Use Printer Offline’ isn’t selected.
  • Ensure that ‘Use Printer Offline’ isn’t checked.
  • Sometimes, printing while your printer is turned off can cause Windows to set your printer to work offline, and that can stall jobs sent later.

 

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[6] IMPROVING COMPUTER SLOW PERFORMANCE

 

{1} DUST CONTROL

  • Dust is very harmful for computer parts.
  • Excess dust can cause mechanical failures, particularly on computer components with
    moving parts.
  • Computers should be dusted regularly by
    using compressed air machines .
{2} FULL HARD DISK

  • As a hard disk becomes full, the computer’s performance is reduced.
  • It takes more time to find and access needed files.
  • Defragmentation is not as successful due to a lack of free space to temporarily move files to while they are being rearranged .
  • Therefore, it is wise for a computer user not to keep files that are no longer needed.
  • Files that have been stored in a user’s documents folder that are no longer needed (such as extra photos or older versions of documents) should be deleted.
{3} STORED BROWSING HISTORY
  • The browser stores the recent history of the web pages that the user has viewed,
  • This make it easier to find and load these web pages again.
  • The browser also stores other small bits of information such as data entered into forms and usernames or passwords if a user has asked a web page to “remember me” (although this is not a good idea for shared computers).
  • This stored information can be easily deleted to improve the slow performance of the computer.
{4} SOFTWARE NOT UPDATED
  • It is important for a computer user to find and install software updates in order to have well performing computers.
  • Updating software can be done in a variety of ways, Automatic Updates, Automatic Alerts for Updates, Manual Updating, Offline Updating.
{5} OVERHEATING

Excessive heat can cause a significant decrease in computer performance.

  • In order to cool down an overheated computer processor, avoid operating the computer if the case is in an enclosed space. (such as a drawer or cupboard).
  • Also cool the room with fans or air-conditioning.
  • Also verify that all of the fans in the computer case are functioning properly.

Modern computers have safeguards that shutdown the system if a component is overheating.

{6} INSUFFICIENT RAM

Computer need sufficient RAM to perform the desired functions once the memory is not sufficient. The performance will be slow.

This problem is most likely if the computer is rather old and has had a newer (and more memory demanding) operating system installed.

 

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