Being able to fix computers is something that most people feel quite comfortable about doing these days. Here, we’ll look at troubleshooting tips for the three main areas when fixing a computer: hardware, software and performance.
Most component/peripheral faults are due to physical or device driver faults.
- Any physical damage (electronics errors, wiring faults, etc.) may be covered by a warranty so it is best to leave such computer repair jobs to a PC technician to remedy. Fixing computers that have been damaged by flooding should also be left to the experts and the hardware should not be shaken or exposed to heat sources in an attempt to dry them out.
- Over time, any upgrades to the operating system may cause conflicts with the device drivers. Use the Windows update service to keep your operating system files and check the manufacturer’s website for fix packs, updated device drivers and details of any known issues or workarounds for fixing computer problems you are experiencing.
- Remove any faulty peripherals and retest for faults. Double-check your PC meets the minimum requirements for the new product. Reinstall the product using the latest installation executable from the vendor’s website. Our article on hard drive crash recovery details other ways to salvage data from a misbehaving hard disk.
The best advice for repairing application problems is to find the best source of good quality information.
- Fix computers operating system problems using the Microsoft Support site (http://support.microsoft.com).
- Registry issues should be investigated online but it is advisable not to manually edit the registry file itself. A popular registry cleaner and repair tool is XP Repair Pro (see our XP Repair Pro Review) that has a free scan to run your own health-check on the Windows registry. Note that this is not solely a Windows XP registry cleaner – it works on most versions of Windows.
- Individual application faults should be researched at the manufacturer’s website and additionally at user forums. If others have experienced the issue then the producer’s site should be a rich source of advice for workarounds and hopefully patch updates.
Fixing Computer Performance
Knowing how to fix computer performance requires some trial and error as these faults generally do not present an exception code/message stating what the root cause of the issue may be. So here are some general tips:
- If your computer freezes then it may be due to there not being enough free disk space for Windows to use its virtual memory. The guideline is to keep 10% free disk space.
- Run the Windows disk defragmentation tool. This will speed up file access to the hard drive for applications and the OS.
- Reduce the strain on your CPU/RAM by reducing the number of applications running at any one time and limiting the number of visual effects Windows uses. Use the Task Manager to analyze the memory usage (in the processes tab) of running programs and close those applications using the most memory when they are not needed (e.g. browsers consume a lot of RAM after viewing flash based web pages). This may fix error messages you see referring to having a “limited paging file”.
- Run an anti-virus scan. Some viruses (e.g. trojan viruses) can consume a lot of PC processing power. Isolate and remove the virus. Fixing computers after a virus has been found usually requires no additional work unless application/OS files have been overwritten (run updates or reinstall applications to overwrite these faults).
See also: Things to do when your computer freezes up.