Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Identifying Problems With Your PC

There are 2 kinds of problems in a PC. Its either a software error or a hardware error. So you may ask me, how do I know if its a hardware problem or a software problem? Is it hardware related whenever i get a blue screen of death?

Hardware Issues

Well to try to help all of you, lets try to identify the main components of a PC in the hardware context. We have:

  1. Motherboard
  2. RAM
  3. CPU
  4. Graphics Card
  5. Harddisk
  6. CD/DVD/etc ROMs
  7. Monitor

1) Motherboard

Symptom of Motherboard problems:

  • Problem at bootup with random error messages.
  • Sound coming out from the chipset fan (Problems with chipset fans could bring random errors while in windows)
  • Random restart or shutdown
  • Weird beeps at startup
To better understand the errors on your motherboard, it is always good to refer to the manual provided. If you do not have a manual, download one. Most manufacturers should allow you to download your motherboard manual. From there, the manual should contain information about the certain beeps it produces as well as certain errors. The troubleshooting page should help you when there are problems with either your motherboard or the stuff connected to it.

2) RAM

Whenever its a RAM problem. If its in windows, it should display a short bluescreen and then restarts. It could sometimes hang a PC. But the most common problem with RAM is that its not inserted correctly. For that problem, the motherboard will emit certain patern of beeps. The common one is Long Beep in a loop

3) CPU

If there is a problem with the CPU, 2 things could be the cause of it. An already faulty CPU or a overheated CPU. A faulty cpu would display a message at the startup saying "CPU initialization error" As for overheating, depending on your motherboard, if it has a safety feature to auto shutdown your PC, then you're in luck that the CPU is safe. But if your motherboard does not have that, it will either hang, or blue screen and shortly after that, smoke should be seen coming from your casing. (You do not want that to happen).

You should check your cpu's temperature periodically. New motherboards come with a PC Health status on your motherboard bios. If its dangerously high say above 70degrees celcius, its time to find ways to cool it down. Maybe the thermal paste has worn out or maybe the fan is not spinning optimally.

4) Graphic Cards

The common symptoms found in a graphic card error is:

  • System hang/restart/bluescreen. This could show that the graphic card is overheating.
  • No picture on the screen with beeps from the motherboard. This means that the graphic card is not properly attached to the motherboard.

5) Hard Disk

If you have a faulty harddisk, the system would not detect it and would not boot from it. However if the system detects it and its already showing the windows Icon but hang there continuously even though you restart the computer countless times, then I'm afraid that your hard disk has come bad sectors.

Bad sectors cannot be recovered by any normal means. Although sometimes a format could remap the bad sectors with some extra sectors created by the manufacturers but if the bad sectors is caused by the read/write head crashing onto the disc, then there is no definite recovery except replacing it.

There are some services provided by some company which allows you to retreive all the data from the damaged hard disk but it would cost a lot. I would recommend that you just get a new one unless the data in the damaged hdd is a matter of life and death. But if thats the case, then you should always backup the data

6) The Roms

I dont have to describe the Rom problems. Its simple to know that when it works or when it does not. However, do not ever place a cracked CD/DVD into the drive. It could potentially explode. Also avoid buying cheap CD-R's or DVDR's. They could sometimes damage your burners.

7) Monitor

Well I don't really need to go through this as well. Its either working or its not. If the monitor is on but no image is on the screen, ensure that the signal cable (the one with the blue head (usually)) is attached to the graphic card behind the casing.

If the colour is slightly off, it could be either the cable connection is lose or the monitor is faulty.

Software Issues

Software errors are errors generated by software which may cause certain events on the PC. If your windows, shutdown/bluescreen or restart randomly, try to find out if it happens again at any time and also remember what you did before that event happening. If a restart does not stop the problem, it could either be a hardware problem or a problem with one of the software itself.

Before tinkering with any software or deciding on formatting, always ensure that you have the latest drivers installed for all your hardware.

To try to diagnose the problem you could either uninstall the software which is causing the problem and check if the problem still persists. If it still does, check if there were any new hardware installed. If there are, remove it and see if it still has a problem. If all else fails, format should take care of any software errors.

After a format and if you still have the same problem. It would most probably be a hardware error.

Remember, not all blue screen's are hardware errors.


At 3:57 AM, Blogger ChAnCe said...

Hehehe. CD-ROM explosion is NOT a myth! It happened to me. It happened to seat jien before too.

Motherboard fan IS VERY IMPORTANT! Some joker told me its just a bios fan.. dun worry.. can unplugged one if its too noisy. It is acutally cooling the bridge for all my intergrated sound and grahpic processing! Good thing didn't fry. My brand of motherboard has a history of bad Motherboard Fan. Another fren of mine also got his fan dead.

At 2:56 PM, Blogger -Leto- said...

that fren is also seat jian

At 5:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice. Any Vista reviews coming soon?

At 5:42 AM, Blogger -Leto- said...

I'll look into that


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