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17 martie 2010

Top 10 PC Problems And Fixes

This article is for those of you who do not want to pay a fortune trying to fix your computer at a repair shop or some other place that will charge you an arm and a leg for something you can diagnose/fix yourself! Over the years of working with computers I have noticed many common problems that people seem to confront me with. I decided to put the top 10 questions I have been asked here, so that you may learn something from them and save yourself some money! First, I would like to say a couple of things: 1. Computers consist of parts (hardware) and instructions (software), you need both to operate, and each and every one part/instruction can be replaced. 2. When you are looking for the cause of your problem ALWAYS start at the physical part of the problem.
1. I have spyware on my computer! or... I am getting many pop ups and weird things on my screen.
This is the most single complaint I have heard from people over many years. They ask me - "How do I remove the spyware on my computer? I have tried Anti-spyware software but it doesn't seem to work." Be aware that spyware is a type of software that runs in the background, manipulating information on your computer. Well, How did I get it? There is a lot of Freeware and Shareware software that can be downloaded that includes spyware components, here are a few examples: Kazaa, iMesh, Limewire and many many more. Always double check to see what you are downloading / installing and what that software "includes". Manual removal is possible but can become very difficult since spyware likes to edit many system registry keys that are hard to isolate and change.
a) Try to get a hold of some good anti-spyware software. Google for it, or ask some friends what they have used before. (I personally run my two favorites - Adaware and Spybot Search and Destroy)
b) Update the definitions on your anti-spyware software (Some spyware might even try to block definition updates, making it more difficult to remove)
c) If after you have ran the programs and problems persists then you need to get into safe mode, since the spyware is running in current system processes that cannot be repaired while the processes are on. To get into safe mode, restart your computer, and tap F8, until a selection menu comes up. There are several boot options; you need to select "Safe Mode". Doing so, your computer only runs the required processes in order for the basic components to work. Once you are in safe mode, run your software again. Usually this will take care of the problem.
d) If problems still persist and you want to go ahead and go with a manual removal procedure, you must obtain information on which files have to be removed with the specific spyware your computer is infected with. There are many websites that will give you information on how to remove specific spyware if you google the spyware name (my personal favorite is Websites such as pc hell will give you step by step instructions on how to remove spyware manually.
e) If all else fails and you feel like you're about to pull the hair out of your head, reformat your hard drive. (just remember that everything will be GONE including your files and software so remember to back them up!) Here is a good website that walks you through formatting your drive with windows XP(Vista is kind of similar)
2. I think I might have a Virus on my computer.
Before you go out and buy elaborate virus removal software, know that spyware can mimic a virus and you should go through the steps in question 1 before proceeding to virus removal. Also, know that even if the virus has taken over your pc, it has control only over your hard drive which can be formatted or replaced at the worst case, so don't go out and start shopping for new computers! (Believe it or not I have had people come up to me and tell me they are going to go buy a new computer because they are fed up with the virus on their current one)
a) If you are sure that you are infected with a virus, get some Anti-virus software. There are plenty to choose from including some free ones such as: AVG, Trend Micro HouseCall, McAfee, BitDefender and many others. You might be prompted to remove some viruses and Trojans manually if the software is unable to do so. Your software / scan should provide you with instructions on how to remove those things manually. Use other website resources to find fixes to your virus/Trojan/worm problems if they persist. Once again I use pchell but you do not have to use this particular website. Tip: Be careful when performing the manual removal because you are dealing with the system registry which is responsible for your operating system. Once you mess up the registry, your operating system might stop working!
b) My personal favorite option J - Reformat the Hard Drive. Once again, make sure you have backed up all of the files you need on some sort of media (CD, DVD, another Hard Drive, Flash Drive etc...)
3. My computer clock loses time.
The CMOS battery is weak. These are easily replaceable. Just open up your computer case and look on the main board, you should see a little circular battery that you can easily pop out and replace with a new one! Voila, you are back on time!
4. Computer running slow.
Some of the common causes of a slow computer:
1. You downloaded one of your favorite programs and it came with spyware. Follow steps in question one to remove spyware.
2. You installed software on your computer but you are sure you have no spyware. Chances are you have too many processes running in the background (more than your processor and or memory can handle) Upgrade to more memory. You can purchase RAM in many stores or online websites which can give you a better deal. Tip: make sure you know what type of memory you are getting and that it is compatible with your computer! Check with the computer manufacturer or the system manual to see what type of memory you need.
3. Hard Drive is short on space. Make more space or upgrade to a larger Hard Drive.
4. You are infected with a virus. Remove the virus as instructed above.
5. Your computer is overheating (an unlikely cause)
5. Computer does not start.
You wake up in the morning and go over to your PC to check your email, what's that... it won't start? How can this be? What Caused this?! This is where that tip I mentioned at the very top comes in. CHECK THE PHYSICAL CONNECTIONS. In most cases a dead power supply is the cause of the problem.
1) Make sure the cords are all plugged in and functioning. Test them with some other equipment, make sure your power strip is on (if you have one).
2) Check to see that the power switch on the back of your computer is in the ON position. If you have a surge protector, reset it and try again.
3) If you confirm that all connections are good, all switches are on and nothing happens STILL, check your power supply fan to see if it is dusty. Blow out the dust and try again. Chances are the power supply has overheated or gave out for other reasons. (You can buy replacement power supplies in stores or online and they are not all that hard to replace if you follow directions in your manual. You can also search around to learn how to replace a power supply. IT IS SIMPLE!
3) If the monitor is on and the computer is on but the screen displays "non-system disk error" or "disk error" check to see if you left a disk in your A: Drive.
4) Computer tells you, you are missing some files? Operating system might have been corrupted which can be fixed if you boot from a windows CD and run the repair diagnostic.
5) If you are running a laptop make sure your battery is fully charged or use the power adapter to boot up.
6. My computer restarts.
Have you ever turned on your computer to find out that it just keeps restarting in a loop? I have. I find this to be the most frustrating problem for people who have asked me on how to fix this.
1. Your CPU temperature might be one of the causes for your computer to restart. If the CPU gets too hot, the computer is told to automatically shut down or restart. Usually anything over 60 degrees Celsius will do it. To find out how hot your CPU runs, download a "CPU monitor" program, there are plenty out there (I personally use Speedfan).
2. Memory failure and DUST often cause problems. Have you ever checked out inside of your computer? Maybe its time that you do! Dust can prevent memory from functioning properly with your motherboard. Try dusting out inside of your computer, unplugging memory and once everything is cleaned out plugging it back in. If the problems persist, then you might have memory failure. Take out every stick of memory and begin testing them one by one. Plug in one stick and boot up to see if things work, if they do not move on to the next stick of RAM. Also try different slots on the motherboard, because I have seen slots on the boards give out after a period of time.
3. Check the settings in the "startup and recovery" options. Sometimes if the "Automatically Restart" setting is checked, the computer will reboot after a system error has occurred. To check this, go to > Start > Control Panel > Performance and Maintenance > System > Advanced > Settings, and uncheck "Automatically Restart".
4. If you have installed any new hardware or software, you should try removing it to see if the problems go away. Try updating all drivers to solve any incompatibility issues.
5. Run your anti-virus software to check for any unwanted spyware.
6. Your system files might be corrupt. Try running the repair utility on your windows installation disk. Or... you can go to command prompt by clicking on Start > Run > type "cmd" (or "command" in win98) press enter. When the command prompt shows up, type "chkdsk /r" to locate repair/recovery any bad sectors.
7. My browser's homepage has been changed and I cannot get it to change back.
Usually this is a simple one, but people hate to admit that they are responsible for this.
Your homepage has been hijacked! Spyware of all sorts will do this! If you have downloaded something or even clicked on some link on a page, it could have installed spyware on your computer. Run the latest updates on Ad-aware and Spybot Search and Destroy, chances are they will remove it and get you back up and going!
8. My computer is making noises
Usually this means that some type of a moving part is failing. This could be a number of things including your case fans, power supply fans, cpu fans, a wire touching a spinning fan, a hard drive going out and crying out for help! However, some sounds that are part of your properly functioning system can be mistaken for unfriendly ones. CD-ROMs, hard drives and fast spinning fans can seem to make the machine loud, but they could just be doing their job. Whatever the cause is, you want to check it out immediately after shutting down your computer.
9. Lost "Word" files after a crash.
You were writing that long research paper or that report for your boss, and you remembered that you have not saved the file as your Word crashed! Sure enough, that auto-recover feature that has always worked before, has failed you now! So what can you do? Usually when you create a document, it is temporarily housed in a temp file which can often by found if searched for. To do so, go to Start > Search, and look for a file with ~ as the first character or a .tmp as the extension that were modified within the last day. To make things easier you should sort by size to display the largest files first. Begin opening those files with Word to see if it might be the file you were working on. If Word won't open the file, try using WordPad and then copy and paste the content to a Word document. Also remember to Save As your document right away and remind yourself to save often!
10. Printer won't print.
You decide to print out a document after you have reloaded your printer with paper but nothing happens. Here is what you should check for:
1. Start with the physical connections/aspects. Do you have ink or toner in? Is there enough of it? Is your printer getting power? Are all of the wires securely in place? Is it set to "online" mode? Go to Start > Printers and faxes > check to see if your printer shows up and is not grayed out and says "Ready".
2. Are there other print jobs that are in the way? Go to Start > Control Panel > Printers and Faxes > double click the printer icon and Cancel All Documents from the drop menu.
3. Print a test page from the printer. A lot of printers have a function that will allow to print a test page if certain keys are held in while the printer starts up. Check the documentation to see what these keys are. If the page comes out then you know the problem is with your connection or the software and not with the printer itself.
4. Try printing from a simple program such as notepad or WordPad. Sometimes it might work, indicating that your problem is printer software related.
5. If your printer is grayed out, try uninstalling it completely, removing any drivers related to the printer and downloading the newest drivers. Once you have downloaded them from the printer manufacturer website, reinstall the printer just like you did the first time and point to the new driver to see if it makes a difference. I have seen where people will install certain software that will cause a conflict with the printer driver, requiring the user to re-install the printer.



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