With tens of thousands of possible errors and a myriad of computer configurations and conflicts, it’s impossible for a single individual to have the answer to every possible computer problem. That’s where research and basic troubleshooting skills come in handy.
Tech Troubleshooting Tips: Review Recent Changes
Computer errors may seem random, but they’re generally triggered by something. This something could involve:
- A recent installation (or un-installation) of software or hardware, a recent operating system
- A recent system, software, or device update
- A virus or spyware infection
- Damage from an unexpected shutdown or computer crash
- A lack of system resources such as memory, bandwidth, or processing power
The above are among the more common triggers, so reviewing the computer’s recent activities is smart. By doing so, you will be better able to isolate the problem.
Tech Troubleshooting Tips: Isolate the Problem
For example, if you recently installed a new program, it’s entirely possible that the new program is affecting the computer’s performance or interfering with operations. The installation could have gone bad and made changes to the computer’s registry that are now triggering errors.
Similarly, if your computer seems to be crashing frequently, reviewing the circumstances leading to the crashes can lead you to the cause. For instance, if the computer constantly crashes whenever you run a resource hungry program, it’s likely that your computer’s resources are being pushed to the brink. This could indicate a need for more memory or a nearly full hard disk.
Tech Troubleshooting Tips: Research the Problem
Understanding the potential cause and nature of the error provides you with a starting point for finding its solution. If you’ve isolated the problem to a specific program or device, go to the product’s developer and search its knowledge base and support sections for answers. If the computer error generates an actual error message and code, copy and paste this information into a search engine or Microsoft.com’s search bar (if it’s a Microsoft Windows error.) The Microsoft knowledge base is a terrific place to find information about specific Microsoft errors – and it often has automatic fixes available. General search results could lead you on a wild goose chase, so pay attention to the results. While forums often ultimately lead to solutions, they can also be filled with speculation, irrelevant information, and questionable advice. Look for authoritative sites whenever possible.
Finally, consider leaving the research for another day and try rebooting your computer. Sometimes, that’s all that’s needed especially if it’s been a long time since your computer has been shut down. If that doesn’t do the trick, try a System Restore (Start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools > System Restore) if that’s available to you. Doing so rolls your computer back to an earlier state in time, often repairing your computer error in the process.