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Computer Runs Too Slowly
This is the most immediate
symptom of the need for more memory, or RAM. As described above, the
system will use the hard drive as temporary storage when available
RAM runs out. Access to the hard drive takes much longer than access
to RAM. Therefore, if the system is constantly writing to and
reading from the hard drive due to lack of available RAM, it will
much slower than if the RAM were available. Increasing RAM size is
probably the cheapest and most immediate solution to a faster
The other causes are VIRUS,
SPYWARE, ADWARE, it is probably best left to a professional to
Computer Won’t Boot Up
There are many reasons why this
problem can occur, from a bad power supply to a bad hard drive or
corrupt system files. If you encounter this problem, it is probably
best left to a professional to solve.
Fatal System Error or
"Blue Screen of Death"
This problem is normally caused
by a program not behaving as it should. In other words, Windows
doesn’t know what to do when the program issues certain
instructions. The result can be either a message box indicating a
fatal program error, or a blue screen indicating a fatal system
error. The message box usually allows the user to terminate the
offending program without affecting the operation of the rest of the
system. The blue screen will normally require the user to reset the
A program will not behave
properly for several reasons. The program may be corrupt. This can
be caused by improper installation (by the program’s Setup program,
not the user), bad memory (RAM), or bad data on the hard drive.
Run SCANDISK to verify the
integrity of the hard drive. SCANDISK will check the hard drive for
errors, and fix them if possible. Also, if there are spots on the
hard drive which can no longer hold data, SCANDISK will mark these
to prevent the system from trying to use the bad portions of the
drive. See the section on User Maintenance for instructions on how
and when to run SCANDISK.
If SCANDISK finds and fixes
problems, a re-installation may fix the fatal error problem. First
un-install the program in question to delete any files which may be
corrupt. Then re-install the program according to the vendor’s
If SCANDISK doesn’t find hard
drive problems, or the problem occurs with many programs, and
randomly, the problem may be bad RAM chips. Have your memory tested
by a professional. Incidentally, most memory chips sold today are
guaranteed for life, so be sure to keep all purchase information if
you upgrade your RAM.
Computer Locks Up
As with a failure to boot up, if
the system lock-up cannot be associated with a particular action,
diagnosis and resolution of this problem is best left to a
professional. If the problem consistently occurs with only one
program or device, re-install the program or device drivers. If this
fails to fix the problem, consult a professional.
Printer Doesn’t Work
The most common cause of this
problem is the wrong printer driver. If the printer was recently
replaced, ensure that the old printer is no longer the default
printer. In the CONTROL PANEL, double-click the PRINTERS icon. If
the printer you are trying to print to does not have a check mark by
it, do the following:
Place the mouse cursor over the printer you wish to use as the
default printer, and press the right mouse button.
Select SET AS DEFAULT from the pop-up menu and press the left
desired printer should now have a check mark next to its icon.
Close the PRINTERS folder and the CONTROL PANEL.
If the desired printer is the
default, verify the printer works by performing an off-line
self-test as described in your printer’s manual. This is not the
self-test run from Windows in the Printer Properties sheet, but
rather a test run directly from the printer which verifies the
operation of the printer mechanisms. Consult your printer manual.
If the off-line self-test works,
try the Windows self-test. From the CONTROL PANEL, double-click the
PRINTERS icon. Place the mouse cursor over the desired printer and
press the right mouse button. Select PROPERTIES from the pop-up menu
and press the left mouse button. The properties windows will have a
PRINT TEST PAGE button. Click this button. If the test page prints
properly, the problem most likely is in the software from which you
are printing. Contact the software vendor.
If the test page does not print
successfully, try deleting the printer, then re-installing it using
the software provided by the printer manufacturer. To delete the
printer, place the cursor over the printer icon in the PRINTERS
folder and press the right mouse button. Select DELETE from the
pop-up menu and press the left mouse button. Confirm deletion of the
printer. Re-install the printer driver following the instructions
provided by the printer manufacturer.
If none of the above solutions
work, the problem may reside in either the printer cable or the
printer itself. A printer with a bad interface board will print a
good off-line self-test, but will not print from the computer due to
the inability of the printer to communicate with the computer. The
same holds true for a bad printer cable.
Display is Garbled
A garbled display usually
indicates a bad video driver or settings which are incompatible with
the monitor. The best way of determining if the problem is with the
video driver is to start the system in Windows "Safe Mode." Safe
Mode loads Windows without any hardware-specific drivers. Safe Mode
is entered differently for Windows 95 and Windows 98 and Windows XP.
As the system is booting up, press and hold the control (F8) key
until the menu is displayed. Select Safe Mode and press enter. As
Windows starts, it will present a message box indicating that the
system is operating in Safe Mode. Click "OK" to continue. Once in
Safe Mode, your display will probably not have the resolution or
color you are used to. This is normal. If, however, you still cannot
read the display, the video card is probably bad. See a professional
to have it replaced. If you are able to read the display, then the
driver for your video card is the most likely problem. You should
have received a disk or CD with the appropriate driver for your
card. If not, contact your PC manufacturer. Driver problems cannot
be corrected without the proper video card driver.
Why Can’t I Upgrade My Computer?
You probably can. But, you may
not be able to upgrade to what you want given your current system.
Or, the "upgraded system" you end up with may have only the floppy
drive and case left over from your old system. For example, the
first Pentium processors run on a single voltage, supplied by the
motherboard. Newer Pentium MMX processors require two different
voltages. If your current motherboard cannot supply two correct
voltages to the processor, you cannot upgrade your processor without
a new motherboard. The same holds true, for a different reason, in
upgrading from a Pentium MMX to a Pentium II or Pentium III
processor. The Pentium II and III processors require a motherboard
which is fundamentally different from an MMX motherboard. Again, a
new motherboard is required with the new processor.
A new hard drive is always nice
to have ??plenty of room for those multi-CD games. But again, you
must be sure both your motherboard and operating system can handle
the larger drives. The first versions of Windows 95 cannot "see"
hard drives bigger than 2.1 gigabytes (GB). So, if you want a 6GB
drive installed on such a system, it will have to be partitioned
into several smaller drives. Windows 95 then sees the single hard
drive as several smaller hard drives, and a letter is assigned to
each one of these drives. Check with your computer professional to
determine if your system can be upgraded to what you want or if it
is more economical to buy a new system.
Does It Take So Long To Fix My Computer?
Computer repairs are handled on a
first-come, first-serve basis. The length of time the system spends
in the shop is directly related to both the number of systems
waiting for service and the complexity of the problem on your
system. Hardware upgrades or repairs are the easiest and fastest
service problems. Software configuration problems, however, can take
a long time to isolate. Additionally, every time configurations are
changed, a fresh boot up sequence is required. Rather than charge a
customer for the technician’s time to stand there and watch the boot
up sequence, our repair procedures dictate that a technician observe
such functions as boot up, scandisk, memory checks, or other time
consuming functions only if observation (as opposed to viewing
results) is necessary to diagnose or fix a problem. This helps keep
our cost to the customer lower.
If I Know What’s Wrong With My
System, Why Am I Charged A Diagnostic Fee?
Diagnosis takes time, sometimes a
considerable amount. If you bring your computer in and tell us, for
example, to change the sound card, that is what we will do, and
charge you for that service. We will verify the sound card
operation, and call you to pick up the system. You then bring the
computer home and discover your speakers, not the sound card, were
the problem. If, however, we were told that you weren’t getting
sound, we would isolate the speakers as the problem and advise you
accordingly. We will perform the tasks requested of us. If that does
not include diagnosis, we will not charge for that service.
User maintenance for a
Windows-based system should be painless. Let the system do its work,
and notify you only if there is a problem. There are only about 5
tasks the user should perform to ensure system operation and data
integrity. The first 3 tasks are: BACK UP YOUR DATA! The last 2 are:
SCANDISK regularly, and
Keep your system clean and efficient.
If you haven’t backed up your
data in a while, do it now. If you backed up your data last week, do
it now. If you backed up your data yesterday, do it now. Any
programs on your system can be re-installed painlessly. Data can
only be replaced if you have a back-up, or you have a paper trail to
re-create the data. If you have a paper trail, plan to spend several
hundred hours re-creating the data you lost. Think of your time, and
its value to you. Compare that to the cost of a tape back-up system
($250.00). Even floppy back-ups are preferable to keying in lost
data from paperwork. Recovery of data from a damaged hard drive can
run into the thousands of dollars. If you’re one of those users who
has "never had a problem," keep it that way and do regular back-ups.
SCANDISK is included with the
Windows 95 and 98 operating systems. It is also included in later
versions of MD-DOS. SCANDISK verifies the integrity of the file
structure on the hard drive, and also evaluates the capability of
the hard drive to accept and retain data.
SCANDISK should be run at least
weekly. When run frequently, SCANDISK will find and repair corrupt
data before the corruption is too extensive to repair.
To run SCANDISK, double-click on
the "My Computer" icon on the desktop. Place the mouse cursor over
the icon for your hard drive, press the right button and select
"Properties." A window will pop up with information about your hard
the "Tools" tab at the top of the window. You will be shown when you
last performed SCANDISK, Backup, and DEFRAG. To run SCANDISK, click
on the "Check Now??quot; button. You will be presented with a window of
the "Thorough" button so that SCANDISK will perform tests on the
entire surface of the hard drive. If SCANDISK finds bad areas on the
hard drive, it will move as much recoverable data from that area as
possible to a good part of the hard drive. SCANDISK will then mark
the bad area so no data will ever be written there. If you check the
"Automatically Fix Errors" box, SCANDISK will fix problems without
prompting you. Otherwise, you will be prompted for each fix.
Finally, click the "Options??quot; button. In the Surface Scan Options
window, ensure that "System and data areas." Is checked. Click OK to
close the Surface Scan Options window, then Start to begin SCANDISK.
Depending upon the size of your hard drive, SCANDISK may take a
while to finish.