10 tips for troubleshooting your PC

10 tips for troubleshooting your PC

You've had a couple of issues with your computer lately, and don't know what to do next. It's gotten to the point that it's annoying, but you're loathe to spend the time and expense of having a tech guy come and fix the problem. Try these quick fixes for some common problems before installing that "fixmyPC" program from the Internet or carting your system down to the repair depot. At the very least you'll eliminate a few frustrations in your digital life, and that's a good thing, right?

There's a whole bunch of icons on my desktop, and I don't know what to do with them.
Simple: Remove the crap and bloatware from your PC. Trust me on this. You don't need every program that comes with your PC, particularly if you bought it from a big box store. While any program you use should be kept, there are likely a half dozen more that you don't need. If there are three ebook readers on your PC, uninstall the two you don't need. Likewise, remove the video streaming services you don't use and games you don't play. At the very least, these programs are taking up space on your hard drive; at worst they will slow your system down when they look for updates.

The Display driver stopped responding and has recovered.
You'll see this issue eventually on systems that have a lot of programs that you've installed and uninstalled. Your Windows system's graphics drivers are either corrupted, or some program isn't quite compatible with the driver you are using now. The solution is to update your display driver. Simply go into Windows Update and look for "Graphics Driver" under optional hardware updates. Go ahead and update your driver. If you're more tech savvy, go to the website for your graphics card ((Nvidia GeForce), (Intel) or (AMD Radeon)), and install the correct driver for your graphics card.

It takes forever to load a program or it crashes once you do.
For the programs you do use, check to see if there are updates. These will either be found in the program's help section, or if it's a program you got from the Windows or Mac App store, check there for updates. Updated software is likely to have bugs fixed, bugs that may slow your PC or Mac down with a memory leak, or an inefficiency that has come to light after the last update. Besides, updated software often comes with new features that make the program better than when you first downloaded it.

It takes forever to "get on the Internet."
Internet Explorer, Chrome, FireFox, and Opera—these latest-generation Web browsers are likely to be the most used programs on your PC or Mac, and every time you add an extension or tool it adds to the browser's capabilities (and memory footprint). If you've been using the computer for more than a few months, it's likely you've garnered a collection of extensions and toolbars. You don't need more than one search tool bar (in fact, you don't need them at all anymore, as all the current browsers automatically search from the address bar). If you like the interface of a particular service, pick one and uninstall the rest. At the very least, you'll gain back a generous portion of vertical space in the browser window. It's the same with plug ins and browser games: they load every time you start the browser. Uninstall the extra extensions you don't use anymore. At best, the system won't load all the extra extensions, and your browsing sessions will start that much faster.

Double clicking a file doesn't open the program I expected.
Look for stuff you or your family members installed. Anyone who shares a PC will find out that the other members of the family have installed programs to personalize their experience. While many of these programs are innocuous, since they are mostly free they aren't the most efficient programs. Occasionally, they can take over the functions of a program you're more familiar with. Programs like office suites, PDF readers, and other graphics programs come to mind. On a Windows PC, right-click on the file you're opening, then select open with, then "Choose Default Program". Once you choose your default program, every time you double-click that type of file, the program you like will open up. On the Mac, it's a similar process: command-click on a file, select get info, then select a program under "Open With". If you want to be even more efficient, uninstall the program your family member downloaded, so it doesn't interfere in the future.

Visit page two to read tips #6-10 for troubleshooting your PC

Copyright © 2010 Ziff Davis Publishing Holdings Inc


After opening your nth browser tab, the system really starts to slow down when switching windows.
Close Tabs, or get more memory. Each browser tab (or window) can open up another instance of the browser program, eating up more system memory. It's doubly worse when each website you visit has lots of animated GIFs or Flash animations on it. For a quick fix, close some tabs, and familiarize yourself with the "close other tabs" command. If this becomes a problem often, think about doubling your system memory, i.e. put two-four more GB of system memory in your PC or Mac. It'll pay off in the long run, especially if you're all over the place while surfing.

Nothing shows up on your screen
Check your display cable (both laptops and desktops) Cables can work themselves loose. Check both the connector on the computer, as well as the connection on the display. If you have multiple monitors, check connections on each display. Sometimes if one comes loose, the others only show part of the Windows or Mac interface. For Laptops, check to make sure the display is set to output to the correct display (check the icons on your keyboard, but hitting Fn-F7 cycles through the settings on some laptops).

The system doesn't turn on
Check the power plug, then check the power button. Checking to see if the power is plugged in is a no-brainer, but sometimes you have to check anyway. Also, the power button could be gummed up with dried soda, become worn out, or is plain defective. It might need repair. On laptops, power connectors can fray or become too loose to use. You may have to buy a new power supply in this case.

My shoulders/forearms/wrists hurt
Find a better sitting position. Or take a break. This can be as simple as moving from your breakfast table to the couch or your desk, or it can be as complex as buying a new ergonomic chair and desk set. You will lose track of time while on the PC (or tablet), and extended computing can introduce repeated stress injuries. At the very least, get up and move around every couple of hours. Your digital life will still be there when you get back.

My social contacts tell me that Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Pinterest/Skype is going to do an evil thing, and I need to do this as a result.
It's probably hooey. Check technology news sites like pcmag.com or debunking sites like snopes.com to dispel fear and doubt. Select the text of your social contact's post, right-click, and then select Search for that text. You'll find out instantly if Mark Z. is using your baked Brie pictures for something nefarious or if it's just senseless fear, uncertainty, and doubt.

Copyright © 2010 Ziff Davis Publishing Holdings Inc

Joel Santo Domingo
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