Fixing PC Hardware Problems

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 No, you’re not losing your mind, although sometimes a PC can come close to giving you a coronary. It’s a little intimidating just to purchase a PC, given all of the types and models you have to sift through just to find the right one for you. Then, when something goes awry, it feels like you’re having to solve a 3-dimensional crossword puzzle! Well, let not your heart be troubled; we’re going to look at a few simple and maybe a couple of not quite as simple methods for fixing a hardware problem. 

Often, the solution to the fix is much easier than you think. The biggest piece of advice I can give you is first of all, relax. Take a deep breath and tell yourself that you will logically backtrack to what you were doing on the PC prior to everything going to battlestations.

The following is a good method for troubleshooting a PC hardware problem. Go through it step-by-step and chances are excellent you’ll find the hardware problem. Go slowly and methodically, okay? Okay; good luck.

1. Check for the obvious first. Many problems can be corrected by just taking a thorough look at the device and it’s connections.

  • Is the device plugged in and turned on? Is the power strip plugged in and turned on? 

How many times have you heard the classic story of the technician who spent 2 hours troubleshooting only to find out a blown fuse was the problem!

  • Are the interconnecting cables secure?
  • If it’s sound related, is the volume turned up?
  • If the problem is related to an expansion card, is the card seated correctly in the slot? 

Before opening the PC to check the card seating, 2 things to do first:

a-Ensure the PC is still not under it’s warranty. If it is, some warranties will be voided if you open the case. For more information about warranties, check it my article concerning them here.

b-If you do open it up, first power down the PC, unplug the power cord, and once again, depress the power button to remove any residual voltages still operating.

2. Consider all of the recent changes you or someone else have made to your system. Maybe the change is related to your problem. Sometimes in the process of installing or removing something inside of the PC, you could have accidently bumped something, causing it to not function correctly. Open your PC up and check inside for anything out of the norm. If the change was done by a PC shop, take it back to them and have them recheck.

 3. Research error messages. If you see an error message while booting or after the boot has completed, do not ignore it. Find out the reason why you saw the message. It could very well be related to your hardware issue. Use the Internet to find answers by doing a Google search. 

 4. Use the Vista Problem Reports and Solutions or the XP Error Reporting window. These tools can help classify and resolve errors that cause the system to lock up, device driver errors, and services and applications that did not start. Pay notice to the description given since that will clue you to identifying the device or application at fault.

To select the Windows Vista Problem Reports and Solutions window, select Start – All Programs – Maintenance – Problem Reports and Solutions.

To select the Windows XP Error Reporting, go to Windows Explorer, right mouse button click My Computer – select Properties from shortcut menu, select the Advance tab, and select Error Reporting. 

windows xp error reporting


5. Check your logs in the Event Viewer. In the Event Viewer, the Administrative Events log under Custom Views shows warnings and error events. Look for entries with a date close to the date the problem began.

To use the Event Viewer, select Start – Run – Enter eventvwr.msc and select OK. 

Using Event Viewer


6. Check your BIOS setup and ensure the hardware device is detected. It can be accessed by selecting a certain key while the pc is in the beginning stage of booting up, and should be on the screen with the BIOS version. If not, check your documentation for the key or keys to use.

 7. Check the Windows Device Manager and verify that the device in question is enabled and Windows sees it as working correctly. If you see errors or a yellow question mark warning symbol, this is an indication that it must be resolved now.

To use Device Manager, select Start – Control Panel – System – Hardware tab – Device Manager

Using Device Manager
For example, if you are having problems with your networking device, you can find out all about it by locating and selecting it in the Device Manager list, right mouse button click it, and select Properties from the shortcut menu.

Device manager properties  “

Observe the device status. Although it may have the entry, “This device is working properly”, you can select the Troubleshooting choice, which can help you localize the problem. 

If you need to update it’s device driver, select the Driver tab, then select Update Driver. Selecting Update Driver will bring you to the Hardware Update Wizard window. Continue to proceed by following the Wizard choices as applicable.

update device driver


Hardware update wizard

Sometimes just a Windows speed issue disguises itself as a hardware problem. If your system is operating slowly, first check it my article on speeding up Windows here. It is also possible that a virus problem could be causing your system to act strangely, to the point that you may think you’ve got a hardware issue. If you don’t have virus protection, check out my article on Virus Protection here.

It really boils down to a process of eliminating the most probable causes for the hardware sympton in the manner I’ve described to effectively combat a PC problem. There are different ways to troubleshoot a PC, but this procedure is one of the best ones to use. Faithfully use it each time you experience hardware-like symptom issues and you should minimize the amount of down-time you have. Good luck!



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