7 Simple Computer Troubleshooting Tips For Non-Techies
There are more than 50,000 computer repair businesses in the United States alone. That’s a lot of companies waiting to help with computer problems.
You don’t always need to turn to professional help though, even if you’re not a technical wizard with computers.
Let’s Look At 7 Simple Computer Troubleshooting Tips That Anyone Can Use.
1. Reboot Your Computer
This is the simplest tip but also one of the most effective – restart your computer.
When you use your computer for a while, things can get cluttered. Memory fills up, storage gets used, and some important parts of the operating system can get mixed up.
Rebooting your computer hardware flushes the memory, clears a lot of temporary files from storage, and refreshes the OS. It’s not going to solve every problem but a lot of strange issues will disappear after restarting.
This should always be your first step when wondering how to troubleshoot a computer.
2. Check All Cables and Connections
If your computer isn’t turning on, you’re not seeing anything on the monitor, or another device isn’t working properly, check the cable connections to your computer. Even if they look like they’re connected, unplug and reconnect them to make sure it isn’t a loose connection.
Check the cables at the same time to make sure the connector isn’t damaged. Some cables have pins in the connector that plugs into the computer. Check those pins and make sure none of them are bent or broken as that can cause problems as well.
If a pin is bent, you may be able to straighten it with a pair of needle-nose pliers. If not, you might need to replace it.
3. Boot From an External Drive
If your computer isn’t starting up, it could be a hardware failure of some sort or it could be that part of the operating system on the boot drive is damaged.
If you have an external hard drive or USB key with a backup of your system (or a bootable installation disk) you can try connecting it to your computer and starting up from it instead.
If your computer boots from an external drive but not the one that’s built in, it’s an indication that the problem is either the built-in hard drive or a corrupted operating system. At least you’ll know that it’s not a more significant hardware failure that’s causing it.
4. Free Up Memory and Storage
Computers need free memory and storage to run at full performance. Whether you use Windows or macOS, the operating system saves information to the main drive constantly to free up RAM for other uses.
If your storage is full or getting close to being full, your computer will likely start to run slower than usual. You might also run into strange crashes and applications that don’t work properly.
Freeing up some storage space by deleting files you don’t need, uninstalling unnecessary apps, and rebooting your computer (see tip number 1 again) can get a slow computer running properly again.
5. Check for System and App Updates
Updates to your operating system and the applications you use often add new features but they also fix bugs and optimize performance. If you find your computer isn’t running as well as it once did, check for updates to your OS and commonly-used apps.
You might also find that some apps don’t work as well after upgrading your operating system. Some OS updates change things under the hood and apps need to get updates to work properly.
If you start having trouble after updating your OS, check for updates to your apps as well.
6. Can You Reverse Course?
Did the problem start after you made some kind of change to your computer? Did you install a new app, change a setting, or add a new peripheral?
If so, try reversing course if you can to see if the problem goes away.
Uninstall the app, revert the setting to what it was before, or unplug the new device. If the problem goes away, you’ll know it’s related to the change and you can research that problem further.
7. The Ultimate Computer Troubleshooting Tool
If all else fails, you can always turn to one of the most powerful tools to diagnose and troubleshoot a computer – Google.
Searching for something related to the problem you’re having will almost always turn up web pages with information from other people having the same issue. You’ll rarely run into a problem that nobody else has ever posted about on the internet.
Some of the results you get may not be particularly helpful but in a lot of cases, you’ll find the solution to your problem on one of the pages in the Google results. And as you use Google for troubleshooting more and more, you’ll start to recognize the websites that tend to have the most helpful information so you can go directly to those results the next time.
You might even find information from people who know how to screenshot and post a visual answer to your problem.
Google Search Tips
To find the most relevant pages, there are a few ways to narrow down the results you get from Google.
First, put double quotes around any error messages, error numbers, or other details that you want to search for specifically. Putting quotes around something when you search for it tells Google you only want results with that specific word or phrase on the page.
You can also put a ‘-‘ before any words that you don’t want to show up in the results. For example, if you search for something and you get a lot of results that are reviews of the product instead of troubleshooting tips, add ‘-review’ to your search. That tells Google to remove any pages with the word ‘review’ from the results.
Try These Steps Before Taking Your Computer for Service
If you take your computer into a service center, the technician will more than likely use some or all of these computer troubleshooting tips to diagnose the problem. But they’ll charge you for the time.
Why not take these initial steps yourself? You might solve the problem without any help, saving yourself time and money in the process.
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