If you use a computer frequently, you will be familiar with all the little things that can often go wrong. Today we, want to talk about how to diagnose computer problems. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a tech pro to utilize the concepts detailed in this article. Our goal, as ever, is to help you use your computer simply and straightforwardly.
Getting to The Root
Computer problems usually stem from change. When you have a problem with your computer, the first question you might want to ask yourself is – what’s changed? Was an update recently installed? Did you change a setting? Did you install something new? When you consider the changes, it will help you focus on the possible root cause of your computer problem.
Assessing change may not necessarily give you an immediate answer, but it will lead you down the right path. For example, if you have just installed a new mouse and your keyboard stops working, you can rightfully assume that something related to the installation of the mouse caused the problem.
Sure, the problem could be incidental, but more often than not, the change tells you where to look first. With that being said, you should not avoid change. Just be prepared that the change could cause some sort of trouble. Make sure that you always save your stuff and that you have a backup handy. It wouldn’t be wise to install a new program or start changing network settings without saving that document you’ve been working on for the past three hours.
Most of the time, computer problems are not fatal. And the frustration caused by the change is temporary. However, one change that you can’t quite avoid is time. Unfortunately, technology wears out. Software needs updates. Hardware becomes old. While you can’t avoid the changes brought on by time, you can prepare for them. Most computers are well functioning for about four to six years. After that, you might have to consider getting a new one. Eventually, time catches up, and the best way to fix computer problems at that point is by replacement.
Determining Source – Hardware or Software
A practical first step toward fixing a computer problem is determining whether the source is hardware or software. This determination isn’t always easy to make. Malfunctioning hardware can make software behave unpredictably. Equally, bad software can make it seem as though your hardware is to blame. The good news is that hardware problems are often noticeable when the computer starts up (or not). When your hardware fails, the computer simply doesn’t work.
After the computer is started up, the next step is to check for hardware issues using the Device Manager. Start by tapping the Windows key. Then type Device Manager and hit Enter key to and open the Device Manager. There you will see a complete list of your computer’s hardware. If anything is malfunctioning, the section is flagged with a yellow triangle.
Troubleshooting software involves determining which program is causing the issue. You can usually tell if Windows is at fault when you start your computer in Safe Mode. If the problem is still there in Safe Mode, then it’s likely an operating system issue.
Software problems are usually specific to one program only, and typically, they’re consistent. You perform the same action and get the same result, such as a crash or some other error. These issues could potentially be due to bugs, or it could be a sign of an improper software installation. If the problem is indeed a bug, then it must be addressed by the software’s developer. What you can do is check the software developer’s website to find out if the bug exists. If it’s apparent that your software issue isn’t a bug, then it’s likely your hardware, in which case diagnostic tests will need to be performed on your computer to confirm that the hardware is functioning correctly.
A helpful rule of thumb is that if the issue is inconsistent, it’s likely hardware, and if the problem is consistent, it’s likely software. And if the issue is with your computer’s firmware, then it will simply drive you crazy.
Above all, remember that the root of most computer problems is change- it’s your biggest clue to finding a solution.