Taking Care Of Your Own Computer Problems
Your son/daughter needs to use the personal computer to explore a project for school the following day. You hear a profanity from the study or where the computer is situated. The personal computer won’t start up up or won’t turn on! Your only knowledge of the computer stops after checking your email. Does this sound familiar? If you’re lucky there is a teenager who is computer savvy or you have this friend who is famil;iar with the computer.
Wouldn’t you like to be able to solve this yourself and be a hero in this son/daughter’s eyes? Maybe we can get you headed in this direction. I am accumulating a series of articles that could help educate you for this. It is not a matter of “IF” this will could occur but one of when it will occur. Murphy’s Law states it will happen when you will be able to least afford for it to happen. I’ve been that individual with the savvy in my family since the computer showed up in the early 1980’s. If it can happen, it has happened to me.
Common Personal Computer Problems Confronting the PC User
Computer troubles might seem vastly complicated at first sight. But most are comparatively simple to solve
. That doesn’t mean they will be inexpensive if somebody else does the job.
Nevertheless, some tasks can be handled an average Joe or Jane
. With a scale of 1 to 10 (where 10 should be done by qualified technicians who wear fewer than three electronic gizmos on their belt), replacing computer memory is usually about a 4. Replacing a hard drive is more difficult (about 6 or 7), but still achievable. Replacement of a video card or internal modem is no more than a 2.
A word of caution: Static electricity could wipe out the circuitry inside your PC. Prior to you reaching for anything inside that box, ground yourself by contacting the metal computer frame. Do yourself a favor and buy a wrist grounding strap. They can be found at Best Buy for approximately $5.
Here are four of the most common PC problems you could fix by yourself.
You power up the computer and zip occurs.
It Will Not Power Up
No lights, no beeps, no fan noise. What is the first thing you do? Make sure the darn thing is plugged in! Even if you’re absolutely certain that it is connected, double check.
Assuming that it is plugged in, you in all likelihood have a bad power supply. This is a metal unit housed in the top and rear of the computer. It is normally installed with four screws and with the power cable connected to it. It has a fan blowing air out the back for cooling purposes. If you don’t feel air movement at the fan grill and your power is good, the power supply is bad.
A wiring harness leaves the power supply inside the computer. Several power connectors are attached to the ends of the wires. These plug into drives, fans and possibly other gizmos. The harness also will have connectors to the motherboard. It doesn’t matter which wire connects where, as long as the connector fits.
The computer comes is, but nothing appears on your monitor.
In other words, Windows never appears. You may have a monitor problem. Try another known-good monitor on the computer and see if anything shows on the screen. If the second monitor works, the first one is bad. Monitors are not worth repairing. Just purchase a new one. Do not open the case of a monitor to fix it. The capacitors inside monitors store electricity. You might be injured or even killed.
If the screen is dark, it might be a video card problem. First, find the video card. This is a card that fits into a slot in the CPU board. The cable from the monitor connects to the VGA (video graphics adapter) interface, which sticks out through the rear of the computer. If the VGA port is part of the motherboard, the video is built-in. You can’t fix that. Otherwise, it will be part of the video card.
Assuming there is a separate card, make sure it is securely seated. The front of the card can rise out of the slot inadvertently as the back end is fixed to the computer frame.
If you have another computer that is working properly, turn it off and remove the video card. Put the card that works in the problem computer. If the system works, you need to buy a new card. If you don’t have a card to test your system, buy a cheap one. If it doesn’t solve the problem, return it .
You could spend hundreds of dollars on a video card. But if you’re running business applications and surfing the Web, buy on price. The expensive stuff is for serious gamers.
If you regularly get the “Blue Screen of Death,” you may have a random access memory (RAM) problem. This is also referred to as BSOD.
Note the message on the blue screen, especially the numbers. Check it in Microsoft’s Help and Support Knowledge Base. Also, put the text of the error message in a search engine such as Google, and check the Internet.
Assuming you are able to diagnose it, a memory problem is simple to fix. If you can’t find the diagnostic information you need online, you can try swapping out computer memory sticks from another computer. That memory must be the same type. If all else fails, take the old memory to a computer store. The people there may be willing to test it.
Sticks of memory go in slots near the microprocessor. They’re about four inches long. Take out the old memory and match it at the store. Memory prices vary widely, depending on type and speed. Make certain you get the same type.
When you press the new memory into the slot, you will probably have to use some force. The clips on each end will snap into place when the memory is seated properly.
If you boot up, and the computer cannot find the C: drive, you might have a bad hard drive.
If you have another computer, switch hard drives to diagnose the problem. If your computer boots with the other drive, yours is probably bad.
According to techie lore, you can seal a nonworking drive in a bag and put it in a freezer overnight. That could shrink things enough to free them up. I’ve used this trick a few times and it’s worth a try.
A regular back-up schedule will save you in the event of hard-drive failures, assuming you aren’t backing up to the same hard drive. If the drive is dead and you don’t have a back-up, a computer shop may be able to save your data. This is frequently expensive.
Your hard drive is in the front of your machine. It will be about the size of a paperback book and is probably held in by four screws, two on each side. Power and ribbon cables connect to the back.
Put the new drive in and install it as the master. Reconfigure the old drive as the slave. The instructions that come with the new drive should explain that. Boot the computer and install Windows on the new drive. If you’re lucky, the computer will see the old drive (it will be D:). You can then transfer your data to the new drive.
Replacing a hard drive is more difficult than the other procedures. However, if you pay to have the work done, it may not be cost effective. You might be better off buying replacement machine. So if you are adventurous, and you have the time, switching the hard drive may be worthwhile.
Know your limits
Some things may be beyond your ability
. For example, upgrading a microprocessor can be chancy. Even if a faster microprocessor will fit in your motherboard, you probably need to upgrade the BIOS (Basic Input Output System). This is done through a process called “flashing,” in which information is downloaded to change the BIOS. If flashing isn’t done correctly, the computer can be rendered useless. Leave that to the experts.
There are times when fixing a computer just isn’t worthwhile
. New machines can be had for less than $500. That might be all you need for business purposes. So, if you’re facing a $600 repair, maybe it’s time to look around. That repair probably won’t be the last.
Knowing that most people do not back up their systems let me take this opportunity to recommend that you do back up, especially if you have critical files that you cannot afford to lose. An external hard drive can be had for around $150. These connect via USB cable and come with backup software. Installing them consists of nothing more than putting a CD in your CDR player and plugging in a cable. The cable comes with the drive. I currently have 2 external drives and use one for backup and the other for additional storage.