How To Troubleshoot Your Computer Hardware

Posted by umar ananda riyadi

There could be many reasons why you'd want to troubleshoot your computer, well, one actually and that's because something is not working right. The process of troubleshooting is something you learn after working for a long time with computers. Often enough when there's a problem, nothing is going to explicitly tell you what is causing the problem and how you can fix it. By taking logical steps and walking through the process of troubleshooting you should be able to solve almost any computer problem, software or hardware related. It involves identifying the problem(s), finding the cause of that problem, determining the solution, executing that solution, and testing and checking that solution to see if it solves your problem.
As an example let's say one day while using your computer the screen suddenly turns all black and you can't see anything. We found a problem now what would be the first step to take to fix it? First check to see if the monitor is on and is receiving power, most monitors when they have power, but no connection or connection problems with the computer will display a message that says this monitor is working, but make sure you check your cables. So the next logical step to take would be to check the cable to make sure it is properly connected and secured to the VGA slot behind your computer case and to make sure the monitor cable is plugged into the monitor. Now, here's where you have to decide what would be the next best course of action to take. you could either swap out your monitor with another monitor that you know is working to see if the problem is the monitor itself and nothing else or you can try to see if the problem is your graphics card. If your replacement monitor works, good, then you know your culprit is a bad monitor and you'll most likely have to get a new one, because monitors are dangerous and too costly service. If the replacement monitor you used shows up a black screen as well, the next thing you'd do is check to make sure the graphics card is properly seated in the motherboard, if it is and the display is still not showing up, then swap out the graphics card to see if your problem is fixed.
Generally there are only so many steps you can take before you solve the problem and everything is back in order. Make sure that before you start testing and swapping out parts that the problem wasn't caused by you changing a software setting in Windows or some ambiguous option in the motherboard's BIOS that causes your problem.
The motherboard is the heart of the computer, every part of the computer relies on the motherboard to function correctly. It maintains connection between every PC component and ensures that things are operating smoothly between them. Many signs of motherboard failure is that the computer won't boot up, not reaching the POST test, erratic system behavior, different combinations of components not working. Because everything is connected to the motherboard certain parts may or may not work correctly if the motherboard is faulty so be sure to test those parts before thinking they're dead and getting new ones.
  • Be sure to do a visual inspection of the motherboard to make sure all cables are seated properly, the fans are spinning, and that the CMOS battery is in it's proper place.
  • Also check for any broken or leaking capacitors, those can immediately render a motherboard dead.
  • Make sure that all of the jumpers are set correctly as well, you should be able to find jumper information in your motherboard's manual, and if you don't have the manual you should be able to find the manual on the Internet at the motherboard manufacturer's website.
Many of the problems caused by a bad motherboard is also similar to problems caused by a faulty or dying power supply, so be sure to check if the power supply is faulty or swap it out for another to see if your problem is fixed. If you have a spare motherboard you can try swapping out the motherboard to see if that solves your problem, if that's the case then the motherboard is most likely faulty. If you think the motherboard is faulty and it is still in warranty you should be able to send it back to the manufacturer for a new one with no hassle, sometimes they might even pay for the shipping & handling if it is a big problem that is happening with a certain line of motherboards. Make sure that when you open a motherboard you keep all of the packaging and the box, and if there are any stickers that will void the warranty if removed make sure you do NOT remove them, so that way it is easier to send back.
Power Supply
If you suspect your power supply is giving you trouble, make sure you check it out fast, because power supplies can make trouble with the rest of your system as well. Irregular voltages sent from the power supply can short circuit and overheat your components thus frying them and making them unusable. Some faulty power supplies have even caught on fire, but if you're lucky it might just smoke a little and start to smell. A few signals that your power supply is bad or is going bad would be erratic and seemingly random system behavior like system hangs and crashes, and burning smells along with smoke.
If you recently upgraded your system or added new hard drives, disk drives, a graphics card or anything for that matter, be sure to check if your power supply is being overloaded with hardware. A good way to check is to use a power supply calculator. One time when I upgraded my system with a new fancy PCI Express 16x Graphics card, well it was fancy back then, I had problems with the graphics card performing while in 3d games, it was all due to my power supply being unable give it enough juice on the 12v rails so it performed poorly and didn't act as it should have, I even swapped out the graphics card for another one believing it was bad, after checking the manufacturer's forums it seemed like a lot of people were having problems with faulty cards, so I figured mine must have been faulty too. After getting the new card it seemed like it performed better for a little bit longer, which could've just been some optimizations they did to circuit board. Seeing how they sent me an upgraded version of the same card, but it wasn't until I checked my power supply wattages that I found the real culprit.
The first thing to do to diagnose your power supply is check the power supply connectors, make sure everything is plugged into the motherboard and the power cable is plugged into the power supply, you wouldn't believe how many people forget to plug in their computer. Many power supplies also have a power switch on them so check to make sure that no one accidentally or purposefully switched it off maybe for a prank. Check the fan to see if it is spinning at the correct speed and if it's dusty vacuum it out. Determine if the power supply cables are giving out the right amount of voltage, if you computer will let you boot you should be able to check them in the BIOS menu to see if the correct voltages are being given. Normal power supplies give +3.3 volts DC, +5 volts DC, -5 volts DC, +12 volts DC, and -12 volts DC.
Faulty RAM can have many adverse effects on your system. Constant lockups, computer rebooting, memory error message (duh), system crashes, and sometimes refusing to boot up are all signs of memory errors. Though, these are also signs for motherboard, hard drive, and power supply problems too. Luckily for you if you think your memory is subject to causing a disruption in your system there are programs that can check the memory for it's performance and to see if it is generating any errors.
Memtest86+ is an amazing memory diagnostic program. It is based off of the original Memtest86 that has been around since 1994 and is used by system-builders, average joes, and professionals in the IT world. It's a standalone memory check test which means it can be easily run without a bootable operating system, that's good if you can't just seem to get your PC started and want to rule out your memory as quickly as possible.

{ 0 comments... read them below or add one }

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...