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BookClubEditor
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How to Troubleshoot Your PC

[ Edited ]

If you've got a problem with your PC then the last thing that you want to do is take a random approach to the problem. Take this approach and you'll just make the problem worse and worse. When your PC is already ill, this is absolutely the last thing that you want to be doing.

The key to effective troubleshooting is to gather as much information as you possibly can about the problem your PC has. The more information you have, the better the chances that you will be able to solve the problem.

What kind of information do you need to collect? Here are some of the key facts that will help you.

If there's a particular application that's causing you problems, what is the application that's giving you problems? Get the name and the version (if the program opens up you can usually find this by clicking Help > About on the menu).

Do you get an error message? Copy this down exactly.

Does the problem occur all the time or is it intermittent?

Can you replicate the problem? If so, what are the steps you have to go through?

Had you just installed new hardware or software on the PC prior to the problem appearing? (This may not have been immediately before. Some problems only show up when you reboot. For example if you usually hibernate your PC or leave it on Stand By it may be several days since your PC was last shut down or rebooted.)

Armed with this information and an internet connection, the chances are very good that within a few clicks you'll be able to find some possible solutions to your problem. A good place to start is to fire up a Web browser and type in the error message that was displayed.

If a search doesn't help, take a trip over the vendor's Web site and see if they have a support area, a support forum or some sort of FAQ (almost all hardware and software vendors are on the Web nowadays). Failing that, find out if the Web site gives details of a support contact number or email address.

Tip: Remember when you get in touch you'll need to include all the information you have about both your problem and your computer system!

Hardware Troubleshooting Rules

Also, remember the reliable set of rules that you can use to work safely in and around any system and to approach any hardware troubleshooting problem.

Identify the problem as accurately as you can. This means making a note of any error messages and when the problem occurs.

Isolate the cause of the problem. Narrow this down to a specific component (such as RAM, hard drive, etc). Double-check the device is connected correctly and that any cables are properly secured.

Replace the device with another that is suitable.

Retest. Test to see if you've solved the problem you initially experienced. If the problem is solved, well done. If not, go back to step 1 and try again to identify the problem.

Error Codes and Error Messages

Error codes are how you discover what's wrong with a PC. Don't bother trying to remember error codes because that is an enormous task and will give you a headache. Although some of the common ones do begin to stick in the mind, the skill you want to develop is being able to find out what a particular error message or error code means. If you have a problem, chances are, someone else has had it too.

Misery likes company, but there are times when it can work in your favor. One thing that makes solving PC problems easier is that there are so many PCs in use, and even though the odds are against two PCs being the same, the odds are good that someone else has had the same problem, usually because only two or three things have to come together to cause that problem. For example, if all your word processor icons have changed to different icons, chances are that it's caused by what you last installed. The chances this has happened to someone else are quite high, and even if you don't realize the problem started with the last thing you installed, someone else might have.

So how do you tap into this? How do you gain access to other people's problems and the solutions that they have come up with? The answer is simple: the Internet!

Web Tips

Here are a few top tips for making your way around a manufacturer's or vendor's Website.

If you don't know their Web address, check the packaging labels, manuals and help files supplied with your hardware or software. They might tell you exactly where to go.

If you have a Web address, look for a search page or a search box on the front page site that allows you to enter search criteria for finding pages on the site. This can be invaluable and reduce time spent searching.

Failing a search box or search page, look for a support section. These are normally identified as "Support," "Tech support," "Knowledge base," or sometimes more ambiguously marked "After sales" or "Customer area."

If there isn't a clearly defined support area, perhaps the support area is accessed from the product pages. Go to the pages that list the product you have (or the nearest one you can find), and often you can find a link from there.

Still can't find it? Look for an area marked "Site map." Site map pages are designed to list all the main sections of a Web site.

If all else fails, try the "Contact us" section, as there may be a technical support or customer services email address or Web form you can use.

Discussion

  1. What problems have you encountered when using your PC?
  2. What steps did you take to isolate the problems you were having?

Message Edited by BookClubEditor on 12-26-2006 01:59 PM

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bob2k
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Re: How to Troubleshoot

Sometime I get a message box that Internet Explorer has occurred a problem and must shut down! When I boot back up, it shows a box that indicates Internet Explorer has suffered an error, send report or don't send. Some feedback on this problem.
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Brad_W
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Re: How to Troubleshoot

First, it's a good idea to always click "Send" I think. What happens when you do that is that the error is sent to Microsoft and is one of the ways in which updates come about.

Second and most importantly, you probably don't want the irritation of these boxes popping up and Explorer locking up. So why is it happening? Most often, there is a conflict occurring with other programs trying to run. What we forget sometimes is that Explorer (and other programs) are not running just on their own. Alot of things are running alongside them and you don't see it. And this could be alot of things. What I recommend is a "tuneup" on the PC. Get Norton's System Works and Antivirus which has some great tools for correcting issues which you don't even know are there. Then run a full virus scan just to be on the safe side (your situation doesn't sound like a virus, but you never know). After that run anti-apyware software. Two that I recommend are Adaware and Yahoo's AntiSpyware (both are free and very good).

Those steps should clean up alot of old files hanging around, fix any conflicts occurring, rid you of any malicious programs that you may not you have, and get ris of those errors. If it doesn't, you want to get some real specifics as to what is happening and what you have running on your PC to get ris of the issue.

Brad
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AdrianKH
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Re: How to Troubleshoot

Hi there!

It's a fact of life that programs crash, some more than others. Internet Explorer offers you a way to send information about your crash to Microsoft. In return, you might get some feedback to the problem or possibly a fix. However, lets say that IE crashed while you were at your bank, I wouldn't send a report to Microsoft then as that might contain sensitive information.

With any kind of crash, the important thing is that it doesn't happen too often. Are you finding your browser crash all the time or just every so often?

Adrian
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bob2k
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Re: How to Troubleshoot

I would say it is not that often, but what should I do if it becomes more often???
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AdrianKH
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Re: How to Troubleshoot

There are a number of things I would try:

- Scan your system for spyware, adware and viruses - these can cause all sorts of system instabilities and it's a good idea to rid yourself of them
- Reinstalling Internet Explorer - Cures a lot of ills relating to the browser
- Reinstall Windows - This is another way to regain system stability without throwing too much time at it

Adrian
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Skyler97
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Re: How to Troubleshoot

I have an issue with a brand new HP that has been bugging me for months.

Sometimes when I boot up I will get an error that there is a disk error "not found, Insert System Disk to continue". I restart and go to the system configuration and it says I don't have a hard drive. I unplug the Network cable and reboot and windows loads. I see no errors in the event viewer. I run hardware and driver diagnostics and nothing is found. A few days later it happens again. I replaced the hard drive and was fine for awhile and now its happening again.

Any guess?? The only thing I can think of is maybe the Mother Board is bad.
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AdrianKH
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Re: How to Troubleshoot

[ Edited ]
There are a few things that come to mind here.

- How often does it happen? Daily? Weekly? After the PC has been off for a few hours or at any time?
- Have you checked the cable? If not, it's worth replacing it to be on the save side.
- Have you attached a lot of other drives and expansion cards to the PC? It might be that the power supply unit (PSU) is borderline on power for the system that that at time the disk doesn't get enough to get going.
- The motherboard might be bad but I doubt it - doesn't sound like a MB issue.

My guess is that it's either a bad cable or the PSU.

Message Edited by AdrianKH on 11-06-200612:11 PM

Adrian
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Skyler97
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Re: How to Troubleshoot

It's gotten to where it happens like every two or three days.

It seems to hang too when it goes into hibernation mode. It comes out of hibernation and is not responsive sometimes. I got a physical memory dump last night.

Except for the new hard drives all of the components are the originals from the factory.

I'll try checking out the PKU. Could be the hard drive is ok but the power supply is out of whack.

thanks.
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AdrianKH
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Re: How to Troubleshoot

Every two or three days isn't that bad really - given that problem and the problem you mention with hibernation I'm thinking that it could be a software driver for some bit of hardware you have installed - have you added anything new to the rig like a printer, mouse?
Adrian
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Skyler97
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Re: How to Troubleshoot

I'm not sure if its a driver problem as I've done a clean reimage from my recovery cd's and have still had the problem without reinstalling the drivers for my hp all in one and westell dsl modem.

My wife has finally made me go back to HP and fortunately it is still under warranty. I hope they just ship us back a replacement.
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AdrianKH
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Re: How to Troubleshoot

I hope it works out for you! Let me know what happens.
Adrian
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AdrianKH
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Intermittent fault with a motherboard

[ Edited ]
Here's my experience troubleshooting an intermittent fault with a motherboard.

http://www.pcdoctor-guide.com/wordpress/?p=3700

Even the technicians who tested the board failed to catch the fault initially!

Message Edited by AdrianKH on 11-20-200604:43 PM

Adrian
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Skyler97
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Re: How to Troubleshoot

Well I got it back from HP. They sent back a document that said that they duplicated the problem and fixed it. They didn't say what they did though. It worked fine for two weeks and now the same thing is happening again. It hangs for no reason and doesn't recognize the hard drive when you boot up half the time.

I spent a frustrating hour on the phone with a tech offshore who didn't understand my dialect of English very well and I was having to spell words in NATO alphaphonetic form in order for her to understand. She didn't recognize the word "None". (I think Tom Friedman must have been shown a Potempkin Village over there). I wanted to know what was done when I sent it in and she wanted me to open the box She finally blew me off and said someone would contact me. Still waiting on them to call.

The whole situation has been very frustrating. I did a Hard Reimage and am waiting on a call back.
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AdrianKH
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Re: How to Troubleshoot



Skyler97 wrote:
Well I got it back from HP. They sent back a document that said that they duplicated the problem and fixed it. They didn't say what they did though. It worked fine for two weeks and now the same thing is happening again. It hangs for no reason and doesn't recognize the hard drive when you boot up half the time.

I spent a frustrating hour on the phone with a tech offshore who didn't understand my dialect of English very well and I was having to spell words in NATO alphaphonetic form in order for her to understand. She didn't recognize the word "None". (I think Tom Friedman must have been shown a Potempkin Village over there). I wanted to know what was done when I sent it in and she wanted me to open the box She finally blew me off and said someone would contact me. Still waiting on them to call.

The whole situation has been very frustrating. I did a Hard Reimage and am waiting on a call back.


Do you have anything else attached to your PC that wasn't on it when new?
Adrian
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AdrianKH
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Re: How to Troubleshoot



Skyler97 wrote:
Well I got it back from HP. They sent back a document that said that they duplicated the problem and fixed it. They didn't say what they did though. It worked fine for two weeks and now the same thing is happening again. It hangs for no reason and doesn't recognize the hard drive when you boot up half the time.

I spent a frustrating hour on the phone with a tech offshore who didn't understand my dialect of English very well and I was having to spell words in NATO alphaphonetic form in order for her to understand. She didn't recognize the word "None". (I think Tom Friedman must have been shown a Potempkin Village over there). I wanted to know what was done when I sent it in and she wanted me to open the box She finally blew me off and said someone would contact me. Still waiting on them to call.

The whole situation has been very frustrating. I did a Hard Reimage and am waiting on a call back.


By the way, I just wanted to add a few things:

It's odd that HP say they did something and can't tell you what. Odd indeed. It's also odd that the problem went away and then came back - can you think or anything you did that might have made it reappear (maybe something small and seemingly insignificant)?

Did your reimage fix the problem?
Adrian
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Skyler97
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Latest Update.

HP gave me a case manager who called back. He thought it was a hard drive issue and and had me run the long hard drive test from the BIOS. It didn't find anything so he thought it was the Mother Board. He sent out a tech to replace the mother board and it was doing the same thing sporadic lock up and no hard drive found error. I reimaged again and got an error rebooting Windows Configuration error "Code Purple". I googled this and found that you get this when you replace a Mother Board on a HP PC and the components are not "Tattoo'd" to the new board. I tried to run a restore from my recovery discs and it says they are not the correct configuration for my PC. I'm waiting on the Case Manager to return my call.
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Skyler97
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Re: Latest Update.



Skyler97 wrote:
HP gave me a case manager who called back. He thought it was a hard drive issue and and had me run the long hard drive test from the BIOS. It didn't find anything so he thought it was the Mother Board. He sent out a tech to replace the mother board and it was doing the same thing sporadic lock up and no hard drive found error. I reimaged again and got an error rebooting Windows Configuration error "Code Purple". I googled this and found that you get this when you replace a Mother Board on a HP PC and the components are not "Tattoo'd" to the new board. I tried to run a restore from my recovery discs and it says they are not the correct configuration for my PC. I'm waiting on the Case Manager to return my call.




He was able to tell me what they did when I sent it in. They just reimaged it again.
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AdrianKH
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Re: Latest Update.



Skyler97 wrote:


Skyler97 wrote:
HP gave me a case manager who called back. He thought it was a hard drive issue and and had me run the long hard drive test from the BIOS. It didn't find anything so he thought it was the Mother Board. He sent out a tech to replace the mother board and it was doing the same thing sporadic lock up and no hard drive found error. I reimaged again and got an error rebooting Windows Configuration error "Code Purple". I googled this and found that you get this when you replace a Mother Board on a HP PC and the components are not "Tattoo'd" to the new board. I tried to run a restore from my recovery discs and it says they are not the correct configuration for my PC. I'm waiting on the Case Manager to return my call.




He was able to tell me what they did when I sent it in. They just reimaged it again.


Any chance you can get them to replace the whole system?
Adrian
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Skyler97
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Re: Latest Update.

Finally got it back. They tattoo'd the Mother board and Placed yet another hard drive in it. Hopefully this will be the fix! Sofar so good.
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