Introduction to Personal Computer Troubleshooting

I am assuming that you are already “computer literate” on your choosen platform (eg.Windows, Mac, Linux, Android etc).  If you are still un-comfortable with your PC, Tablet, Cellphone the first thing you will need to do is search for “how to” articles for your hardware/operating system to get yourself up to speed.  If your trouble is being caused by “operator error” then you need to fix that first.

Trouble comes (in theory) from malfunctioning hardware and malfunctioning software (eg. Viruses, badly written computer programs, etc).  The catch is there is also the interface between computer hardware and software.  These are called “drivers” and if they are malfunctioning it can be hard to track it down.

Trouble on a computer is generally related to either “running to slow” or “crashing”.  Crashing refers to an un-planned computer stoppage where it either stops working but still seems to be running or a spontaneous re-boot where you suddenly discover your computer is starting up again.  Running to slow is an “objective/subjective” issue.  It might be that the computer is not running fast enough to suit you or it might be the computer is running slower than it used to.

Both problems start their troubleshooting with “What was the last program you installed” and/or “What is the last file you downloaded/installed from the Internet?”  Modern computers (less than 3 years old) don’t usually have hardware issues unless you plug something new in.  But new software can commonly cause a problem.  So if you installed a new program or updated a program in the last couple of weeks that is the first place to look.

How do you “look”?  Go to the Frequently Asked Questions page for the last program you installed and/or updated.  Does it mention “known” problems?  Do you have any programs that are listed as “not playing together”?  Etc.  If there is no ideas there you could try un-installing the program and seeing if the problem goes away.  If it does, then most likely that last installed program was causing the problem.

A related question is “What were you doing” when you started having trouble.  1) What programs 2) How many are open 3) What files did you have open?  If you only have that one application open/running does the problem go away?  Or is it always “that program” that gives you trouble.

(To be continued)


Author: Tom G

A baby-boomer with a long Technology-Geek history and a even longer career in non-Technology-Geek work (I took what I could get, when I could get it). Do you remember IBM punch cards? I do. I am working, semi-retired, moderately Senior Citizen with a need to not get bored. So I am considering the possible insanity of going to graduate school. If it happens, I expect to come out with an MA in Communications Study that will allow me to write better and speak about what I know better.

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