There are several scenarios in which you can find yourself needing computer troubleshooting. Troubleshooting is a skill that develops with experience in the IT field. In many cases, the root of an issue and its solution remain obscured by a lack of clear explanation. You should be able to fix any software or hardware issue on your computer by following a logical troubleshooting procedure. Problem identification, root-cause analysis, solution formulation, solution implementation, and verification that the problem has been resolved constitute this process.
Say you’re working on your computer one day, and suddenly, the screen goes black, and you can’t see anything. What should we do initially to address the issue we’ve identified? First, ensure the monitor is turned on and getting power; in most cases, it will indicate that it is functioning properly even if there is no cable connection or the cable connection is damaged. The next obvious step is to double-check that the monitor cable is plugged into the monitor and that the wire from the computer to the computer is correctly attached to the VGA slot on the back of the computer case. You must now choose what steps would be most beneficial to take. You can either test if the issue is the monitor itself by swapping it out with a known-good monitor or check if the issue is with your graphics card. If a different monitor solves the problem, that’s great, but you’ll still need to buy a new one because servicing monitors are risky and expensive. If the second monitor displays a blank screen, check if the graphics card is securely inserted into the motherboard. If it is, and the display still isn’t working, you can try another card.
In most cases, a finite number of actions may be taken until the issue is resolved and everything is put back in order. Before you start testing and replacing parts, make sure the problem isn’t the result of a change you made to a software setting in Windows or a nebulous option in the motherboard’s BIOS.
The motherboard is the central nervous system of the computer and is essential for its proper operation. It keeps all of the parts of the computer linked together and running smoothly. Symptoms of a faulty motherboard include a laptop that won’t boot, failure to pass the POST test, strange behavior from the system, and the inability to use specific hardware configurations. It’s important to test individual components before concluding that the system is dead because of the interconnected nature of everything to the motherboard.
Check the CMOS battery is in the correct slot, the fans are turning, and the cables are installed securely on the motherboard.
Inspect the motherboard for leaks or cracked capacitors, as these will render the board useless.
Verify the correct settings for the motherboard’s jumpers; instructions for doing so should be included with the motherboard’s documentation or, failing that, made available via the manufacturer’s website.
It’s essential to check if the power supply is faulty or replace it with another to see if the issue is resolved. Many problems produced by a bad motherboard are comparable to issues caused by a broken or dying power supply. Whether you have a replacement motherboard on hand, you can swap it in to see whether it corrects the issue; if it does, you can conclude that the original motherboard was defective. You should be able to return a bad motherboard to the manufacturer for a replacement at no cost. If the issue is widespread throughout a particular range of motherboards, the manufacturer may even cover the cost of shipping and handling. Suppose you need to return a motherboard for any reason. In that case, it is imperative that you do not throw away any of the original packaging, including the box, and that you do not remove any warranty stickers.
If you think your power supply is malfunctioning, check it out immediately because it could affect other parts of your system. If the power source sends out irregular voltages, it could cause your components to overheat and short circuit, rendering them useless. There have been cases of power supplies catching fire due to defects; if you’re lucky, yours will merely start smoking and smelling. Unpredictable system behavior, such as system hangs and crashes, and burning odors and smoke could indicate a problem with your power supply or suggest that it is about to fail.
Be sure to check if your power supply is overloaded if you have recently upgraded your system or added additional hard drives, disk drives, graphics cards, or anything else. You can verify this with the help of a power supply calculator. When I got my system upgraded with a new PCI Express 16x Graphics card, it was fancy back then; I had problems with the graphics card’s performance in 3d games. It turned out that this was because my power supply couldn’t provide enough juice on the 12v rails, so the card didn’t perform as expected and didn’t behave as expected. The new card may have improved performance temporarily due to circuit board optimizations. However, this improvement quickly faded after installation. Even though they issued me a more recent model of the identical card, the problem wasn’t resolved until I verified the wattage output of my power supply.
Checking the power supply connectors is the first step in diagnosing a faulty power supply; many people’s computers malfunction simply because they aren’t connected, so this is an excellent place to start. It’s a good idea to double-check the power switch on your power supply to be sure no one turned it off by accident or on purpose, as a joke. Verify the correct rotational velocity of the fan, and clean it if necessary. Check the voltage output by the power supply cords; if your computer boots, you may do this in the BIOS. The standard DC voltages provided by power sources are +3.3 volts, +5 volts, -5 volts, +12 volts, and -12 volts.
There are many ways in which faulty RAM might harm your computer. Memory issues manifest in various ways, including regular freezes, reboots, system crashes, and a complete refusal to boot up. However, these symptoms can also indicate an issue with the motherboard, hard drive, or power supply. If you suspect your system’s memory of being the source of a disturbance, you can test its performance and check for flaws with the help of specialized software.
The memory testing software Memtest86+ is top-notch. The original Memtest86, which has been around since 1994 and is utilized by system builders, regular people, and IT pros alike, served as the basis for this newer version. If you can’t seem to get your PC started and want to rule out your memory as quickly as possible, this standalone memory check test will let you do just that.
Memory Testing With Memtest86 and a Floppy Drive.
Start by going to http://www.memtest.org, where you can choose the best version to download. If you don’t have a CD burner, download the bootable iso file and use your floppy drive instead. We’re going to dissect the flabby approach in great depth.
After you’ve unzipped the files and placed them in a folder, run install.bat and answer “Enter target diskette drive:” After you type A and press Enter, you’ll be prompted to insert a formatted diskette into drive A: and press -Enter-; after you do this, the system will write some files to the floppy so you may use it to boot your computer and check for faults.
Leave the Memtest86+ formatted floppy in the floppy drive and restart the computer after the format is complete. The floppy drive must be set as the primary boot device in the BIOS.
The diagnostic checks for the computer’s RAM will load and run automatically. Errors will appear during testing, and the total number of errors will be reported afterward.
If you are getting errors after running a memory test, double-check that the memory is fine by either trying it in a different system or swapping it with known good RAM. You can move on to troubleshooting other issues, knowing your memory is fine if it passes all the tests.
The computer’s hard disk is the ultimate security for storing data. It keeps everything you own, including documents, photos, media, bookmarks, and applications. A computer is useless if its hard drive fails. Most individuals won’t try to fix their laptop beyond replacing the hard drive if it can’t be saved, especially if it’s an old, hand-me-down model. When a hard disk finally crashes, it’s usually some years after the machine was purchased. Since your old computer is likely not as fast as it once was, buying or building a new one is preferable to replacing the disk.
Fortunately, you’ll likely notice a few red flags before your hard disk finally gives up the ghost:
Extremely sluggish data transfers
Boot issues, especially while Windows is loading
Files and folders mysteriously vanish
If your hard disk makes a lot of noise, it probably has a mechanical problem.
If your hard drive shows any of these symptoms, you should back up your data immediately and stop using it for regular tasks. Even if your hard drive doesn’t exhibit any of these symptoms, there are several online drive-testing applications you may use to determine whether or not it is about to crash and burn. Often at least one competent tool is available for download and uses directly from the hard drive manufacturer’s website. You may also check the SMART status in your motherboard’s BIOS or use the Windows Error Checking tool by right-clicking on your hard drive in “My Computer,” selecting “Properties,” and then going to the “Tool” and clicking on “Check Now.” The acronym SMART describes a type of monitoring and reporting technology. This capability is standard on modern motherboards. This feature checks your hard disk for errors and should be activated by default in your BIOS. It does a series of fast checks on your hard drive upon startup to ensure everything is functioning smoothly, and it keeps an eye out for errors and other anomalies for as long as your computer is on.
Incredibly, computers allow us to do things like watch movies and videos, play games, and view content that may not be suitable for all audiences. But there may come a day when you just want to kick back in your computer room and view all the NSFW content you have bookmarked under the “Special Sites” category, but you can’t because your monitor won’t power on. You don’t act like a bum and punch holes in the wall to release your frustration. You do some troubleshooting and pray that your screen isn’t dead.
If you’re having trouble seeing your screen, it could be as simple as a loose cable or that you unplugged the monitor by accident; unfortunately, it’s more likely that the issue is with your monitor’s age or your graphics card. This means you may need to diagnose both components simultaneously to determine which one is the cause of the issue.
First, double-check all of your cords; I know, I know, I’m probably getting a little old with the verifying connections and everything, but folks can avoid a lot of headaches with their computers if they keep in mind that things aren’t going to stay exactly the way they left them. Something as simple as a foot kicking out a cable, or a nosy dog or cat, might render half your electronics worthless.
If your screen is on, but you still see a message like “This monitor is working correctly, please check your cable” and colored bars, the problem is not with your cords but with the signal your computer sends to the monitor. You could try switching to a different screen to check if the error persists. If so, the issue is likely related to the graphics card not being installed in the motherboard or functioning incorrectly, and you should try replacing it with a different graphics card.
In most cases, faults with a monitor aren’t easily identifiable. They are either fully functional, as advertised, or must be replaced. Never service a monitor yourself; they contain high-voltage capacitors that might kill you if you accidentally touch them. The death of a computer scientist is not something anyone wants to read about in the obituaries.
The graphical processing unit, oh, how lovely you are! It keeps your games running smoothly and your videos at HD quality, and it’s responsible for the stunning visuals of HDR (High Dynamic Range) images. However, when something isn’t operating correctly, it might be a hassle because there isn’t a black-and-white hardware or software solution; instead, you must examine the existing state to determine what’s wrong.
If you’re having issues with your graphics card, you should first check the manufacturer’s website to see if there’s an updated driver available; if there isn’t, uninstalling and reinstalling the drivers is an excellent second option.
If your screen shows artifacts, such as tiny jagged lines or strange color smudges, check the temperature of your graphics card and make sure the fan is functioning correctly. If the cooling seems fine, you should check the power supply ratings to ensure the GPU gets enough electricity. These days, graphics cards typically require a lot of juice from the 12v rails, so you’ll want to ensure your PSU can deliver it.
One common issue with sound cards is that they either (a) don’t work at all or (b) don’t work at all. It’s not a big deal to get a new sound card if the old one stops working because they usually don’t cost very much. Replacing one of those is, as might be assumed, far more difficult if you are an audiophile who demands absolute fidelity to the original recording from your $300 sound card.
Troubleshooting Sound Cards
You should double-check the speaker cords and ensure they are inserted into the correct ports on the sound card. Make sure the speaker’s power cord is not broken.
Make that the volume is turned up and not muted in Windows and that the book is turned up and not muted in any wave or playback software. If you have ‘Digital Output Only’ selected in the Advanced section of the Playback Controls, deselecting it may fix the lack of sound. I discovered that if I have that box ticked, my sound card produces no audible output.
You can try reinstalling the drivers for your sound card and look on the manufacturer’s website to see if any updated drivers are available. These drivers improve your sound card’s system compatibility.
If none of those solutions worked, you might need to buy a new sound card or try it on another computer to rule out the possibility of the issue with how your current sound card is connected to the motherboard.
The processor is the computer’s “brain,” or central processing unit. It does all the calculations a computer needs to operate in a fraction of a second. It is the bottleneck for systems that have been improved everywhere but the central processing unit and hence dictates the computer’s overall speed.
It’s not the end of the world if your processor stops working; in fact, most processors that usually function for a few weeks will continue to function normally for the rest of their lifespan, typically between 5 and 10 years. Your processor should be exemplary unless you’re overclocking it or letting it overheat, and the problem could be a faulty BIOS or jumper setting; however, you should double-check that the processor is seated correctly and that the heat sink is attached to the processor and the motherboard just in case. You should be able to pick up your motherboard by grabbing onto the heat sink without any problems if the heat sink is securely attached to the motherboard and has no wiggle area. Ensure the jumpers are set according to the motherboard instructions for your processor model. Incorrectly setting the processor’s jumpers can render it inoperable, prevent it from operating at peak efficiency, or slow it down. Also, make that the heat sink is cooling the processor; if it isn’t, you may want to upgrade to a more efficient model.
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