Figuring out what is wrong with a computer can be a tedious and logic-ridden task. Sometimes it is easy, but more often than not, it can cause serious hair pulling.
In this blog post, I will show you how to diagnose common computer problems. If you already know what the problem is then it will be cheaper/faster for the computer tech to fix the problem.
Hardware and External Connections
The first step is to unplug any external device. This includes external hard drives, printers, wireless network adaptors, etc.
Also, if you have installed any hardware recently (again, stuff like printers, storage devices, etc.), unplug them and uninstall the software that enables them, if you can.
If your computer does not boot, there are four main culprits. It could be bad RAM, bad power supply, bad graphics card/chip, or the worst, a bad motherboard. For almost any computer, it is very easy for users to remove/replace memory (RAM). This is a vey good first step to take. If you have two RAM sticks, then try one at a time to rule out RAM issues.
If the RAM seems ok and the computer will still not boot, then the power supply needs to be tested. This is usually done (professionally) using a multimeter or voltmeter. Another way to test power issues is to hook up a functioning power supply to the motherboard. If it fails to POST (make a single beep sound for most computers), then you can rule out power supply as an issue. On laptops, the power supply is external and part of the power cord (that big boxy black thing). So if a laptop is not getting power, 99 times out of 100, it is a faulty jack (the part of the computer where you plug the power cord).
If the RAM and power supply are tested and found to be OK, then it is down to the graphics card and/or motherboard. On laptops, the graphics are almost always integrated at the chip level. Higher end desktops, or custom built desktops, will typically have a separate graphics card that interfaces the motherboard via the PCI-Ex16 port. In such cases, the graphics card should be removed to eliminate that possibility.
Otherwise, you are looking at a dead motherboard. Not a pleasant diagnosis, but at least it is a diagnosis.In some cases, it makes sense to replace the motherboard, but for older computers, especially laptops, it makes more sense financially to buy a replacement. We strive to be honest and will always give you the best advice for your situation. If it doesn’t make sense to replace your motherboard, we will never push a sale on you.
BSOD (Blue Screen of Death)
This is the error that you have probably seen at some point or another. Windows shuts down and you are left with a Blue Screen indicating an error. Unless you are a professional computer repair technician, it is unlikely that anything on that Blue Screen will point you in the direction of solving the apparent error. But it can! Write down the error codes and plug them into Google search one by one. It takes some time and you have to sort through the results to find just what you are looking for, but it can be incredibly useful!
BSOD’s are generally caused by a hardware or software failure. Sure, that’s vague, but it’s the truth. If you’ve gone through the steps above and it doesn’t seem like a hardware issue, then it is likely caused by a software issue.
To resolve software issues, you need to take advantage of the controls offered in Windows. Here are some guides to help you:
- https://support.microsoft.com/kb/310353 (for Windows XP)
- https://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/Optimize-Windows-7-for-better-performance (Windows 7…also applies to Vista)
It is also wise to run anti malware tools on occasion. We recommend Malwarebytes Anti-Malware and Spybot. For general computer cleaning, which can help with BSOD errors, we recommend CCleaner and Advanced System Care 4. All of the programs can be safely and freely downloaded from the following site: https://www.download.com
If you would like a diagnosis, please contact us. If you followed this guide and were able to pinpoint the problem, then we will offer a discount on your computer service. 🙂