When it comes to computers there are a number of things that can go wrong, and often at the most inconvenient times possible. However, the real problem is when you find yourself unable to figure out what the problem actually is, and even if you do – you have to ask yourself if you know how to resolve that problem, or whether you’re going to have to call in someone who can. There are a number of things that go wrong with computers, some a little more frequently than others. Below you will find some of the more common issues, along with the symptoms that will help you to recognise the issues as well as some suggestions on how you can result the issues.
A virus is a piece of code or software that causes harm to your computer; generally running without your knowledge or permission.
? Lethargy – you’re poor computer seems to be struggling to get tasks done, everything is moving much slower than you would usually expect to see.
? Fever – it isn’t uncommon for a computer to run a little hot when working hard, but if it seems to be getting hot very quickly and while performing tasks it wouldn’t ordinarily break a sweat about then maybe you need to start to worry.
? Difficulty Waking up – Normally your computer is bright eyed and bushy tailed first thing in the morning; ready to start work and eager to go. Lately it’s been looking a little sluggish. Starting up seems to take forever, and there’s a lot more noise than usual involved.
? Memory Issues – it hasn’t been too long since you saved that file, but your poor old computer seems to have lost it, or simply can’t remember how to open it. Files are going missing and becoming corrupt a lot more often than you’re used to.
? Delirium – You didn’t ask the computer to eject your disc drive, but it did anyway. It is no longer willing to cooperate with the printer and randomly performs tasks you may or may not have asked for.
The above are listed in order of most to least common. One of the problems with diagnosing a virus is that different viruses cause different symptoms, though most overwork your system making it slow and causing the processor to overheat, which can result in crashing and unusual error messages regarding high system temperatures.
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Once you are confident that you have diagnosed the correct issue it is time to resolve it. The best thing to do is get rid of the virus, as this will very quickly allow your computer to recover. The important thing is having an effective antivirus available; if you don’t already have one on your computer then I would suggest installing Malware Bytes, as this is an effective option, particularly for Malware but it does help with other viruses too, as well as a completely free selection, though there is a premium subscription option that unlocks some additional features.
Once the antivirus has run its course and remove the offending files you can restart your computer, which allows it to easily end all of the additional processes that were giving it trouble, then start it up again and you should find it to be completely recovered.
Sometimes, for whatever reason your computer will crash, freeze or shut itself down, and often this seems to happen at the most random times.
? Death – Sadly, the most common symptom of corruption to a computer drive is the sudden appearance of the ‘Blue Screen of Death’; a characteristically recognised blue screen with white font informing you of the error.
? Freezing – Not quite death, but pretty close. If your computer frequently freezes up and fails to complete actions then there is quite possibly an issue.
? Lag – your computer is falling behind the times, quite literally. You might be typing away quite happily, but you know that the words won’t appear on the screen for a minute or so yet. Perhaps you asked the computer to open the window a little while ago, but you know it’s still crawling across and trying to open it for you, but you’re not going to get it any time soon.
? Lack of Spatial Awareness – It isn’t exactly a memory problem, if you could save your files they would probably still be where they need to be, rather there doesn’t seem to be any room at the inn, regardless of how many you try.
? Difficulty with Usual Activities – yesterday it might have opened up your software and started work effortlessly, but today it keeps closing the software, complaining of missing .dll files and failing to run even some of the most basic applications.
The above are listed in order of most to least common. A corrupt drive can be an after-effect of a virus, so you may find that your computer is sharing symptoms with the virus, meaning that the virus is still there and has caused damage to a drive. If this seems to be the case follow the steps for curing a virus before moving on to resolving the hard drive problem.
There are times when a particularly badly corrupted drive can cause the computer to fail to start, so resolving the problem isn’t always easy. The first thing to do it figure out the source of the corruption. Sometimes this is the result of new software, a virus, damage to hardware etc.
? Have you run the antivirus and removed any potential threats?
? Have you run or installed any software that could have come from an illegitimate source or is not compatible with your system?
? Have you plugged in an external drive?
? Have you moved your computer recently?
If the problem started after installing or downloading a particular application or file then the most logical first step is of course to remove the offending file. This may be causing compatibility issues or may be infected with a virus that causes damage to your drives. Of course if you have an external hard drive or USB flash drive plugged into your computer you should try removing this and then booting up again, as the computer (particularly with the older systems) can become confused between the USB drive’s start up program and the computer’s, causing the blue screen of death in some cases.
You may have to start your computer up in safe mode in order to get in and remove the files or applications that are causing the problem, which of course means that you need to mash the F5 button during startup in order to bring up the appropriate boot menu, then select ‘safe start’ within that menu.
Other problems can be hardware related, in which case you will have to shut down your computer, unplug it and open up the case. You should look to ensure that everything is in the correct place, there shouldn’t be any hardware parts loose or moving around, and you should check for signs of anything that has been burned out. Short circuiting and loose RAM are among the most common hardware related reasons for failure to boot up – so be sure to check these. If you aren’t familiar with the internal hardware or you’re not confident in your ability to find and replace the faulty items you should ask a friend or family member for assistance. Usually the problems are fairly basic and the help of someone you know who is capable with computers is likely to cost you much less than taking it to a repair shop will.
Drivers are an important type of file that tells your computer how it is supposed to use certain types of hardware, without the right drivers your computer might be unable to use the hardware in the way it is supposed to.
? ‘Dead’ devices – new devices seem to be broken; a case of the lights are on but nobody’s home. You might be able to see that the device is getting power, other than that it might as well not be plugged in for all the good it does.
? Stranger Danger! – It doesn’t even have to be a new device, perhaps your computer just suddenly doesn’t recognise a device it has worked with previously. You end up with that little alert in the bottom of your screen informing you that an ‘unrecognised device’ has been plugged in, often followed by a suggestion that you scan it for harmful files and software before using it (you can never be too careful with strangers).
? Confused – Okay, even if your computer has figured out has figured out what to do with the new device, and is managing to recognise and work with it, there’s a good chance that it isn’t doing it quite right. Generally when your computer tries to figure out how to work with a new device without the driver it means that it already had a driver for a similar device. Kind of like finding instruction manuals for a product similar to the one you’ve purchased and making do, it might help, but things probably won’t work out quite the way they would have if you’d had the right instructions in the first place.
There are different levels of issues that can be experienced when it comes to driver related problems, and of course these will depend on the computer, the device and the software in question. Devices most commonly effected by driver issues include speakers, webcams, microphones, printers and graphics tablets.
In general all you really need to do is ensure that the right driver is available. If working with a new device you often receive an installation disc, which provides you with the driver you need for the device in question – a quick and easy solution really.
Of course if you don’t have an installation CD with your new device you may need to find an alternative, such as downloading a driver online. This is actually pretty easy, and generally the producers of the device will include drivers for downloading on their website, if their devices require drivers. Often searching Google with the device model, the phrase ‘driver download’ and your operating system will help you find the right results – just be sure to download from legitimate sources.
Even if you already have a driver, it is possible that it has become corrupt or damaged, so updating drivers, or even uninstalling them and reinstalling them may become necessary.