Article 50: Diagnosing Common Hardware Failures

I sense a disturbance in my computer…

As you well know, the care and maintenance of a healthy set of computers (not to mention the rest of the technology in your life) is important. It can be a full-time task if you are not working efficiently. When something doesn’t work quite right or you get an error message, then it’s a rather simple task to find an answer on Google. It is a safe bet that the internet can help. But what happens when you can’t get online? Or even ON?

Hardware failures occur, even if they are rare. If you can’t figure out what is wrong on your own, it could end up costing you big time, so the Modern Nerd is here to help you with a few tips. Let’s look at hardware failures, troubleshooting options, and how you can get back up and running with minimal hassles.

Screen is Black…

It’s hard to read an error message from a screen that is not working. The first step in diagnosing this, or any, computer problem is finding the source of the error. Can you try a TV or another monitor? Does your laptop have a video-out port? If you have a black screen on your laptop, but can connect to another TV, you likely have a screen connection problem. This is one that you’ll want backup on, unless you are a seasoned veteran.

Still Black?

Ok, so your screen will not even turn on. You’ve tried changing the cables, the monitor, and the power supply is working? Then you have major problems. If your motherboard is dead, and the computer will not even power up and test itself (commonly known as POST), then you also are advised to seek reinforcements from the pros. If you are supplying power, and can get no response to turn it on, then it is either the motherboard (bad news) or the battery/power supply (bad news, but slightly less so). Leave it plugged in for a night in the case of a laptop to make sure it is not a battery issue.

Operating System won’t Start

If your computer will physically turn on, but you cannot get to your normal Windows or Apple desktop, then there is an error somewhere else. Most likely it will be on your hard drive. Corrupted data or a mechanical failure can cause problems starting. You might be able to recover data from the drive, but it will need to be replaced. Common red-flags in a mechanical hard drive are clicking noises or a drive that will not stop searching for something that it cannot find. If possible, remove the hard drive and try another one to make sure the problem is not more serious.­­

Random Blue Screens of Death

Everything is fine. And then, out of nowhere, the entire system fails. Crash to the blue screen that tells you that something has gone horribly wrong. Go through your steps of course, but if you have not installed any new hardware recently or made any system changes that require new drivers, you could have a bad stick of RAM. There are free, open source testing programs available to check your memory, and most laptops and new desktops have a diagnostic program included with them to check for such errors. RAM is easy enough to install, even for an amateur. Identifying it with a hardware test is your first step here.

Keyboard not Working?

This one is simple. You press a button and nothing happens? Well, plug in another keyboard and mouse. Laptops especially are vulnerable to this kind of error due to their integrated nature. Everything is together, and people have a tendency to skip the simple connection that the keyboard might be broken. Laptop keyboards are a little pricey to replace, but it’s going to be cheaper than getting a whole new computer just because the keys are not working.

Get a Free Diagnosis

Still stumped? Most repair places now will only charge a modest fee to diagnose a problem, and from there you can choose to fix it. Or upgrade to a newer, bigger, and better one. The pros are there if you need help. Thanks for reading. Check out all of the Computer Fixer’s content at our blog. Subscribing to the RSS feed and liking us on Facebook will let you know when our newest content is available, and we update every week.

Aaron Krick
Blog Contributor at The Computer Fixer

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