Repairing a Computer that Freezes or Runs Slowly
Computers may freeze on account of any hardware or software issue, so here you need to understand the exact reason behind it. Notice if the issue started when you connected any hardware peripherals, like a printer or scanner, then it might be due to a driver conflict. If the issue occurred after installing a new hard drive, then it might be due to insufficient power or too much heat. Follow the troubleshooting pattern below to repair your computer, if such problems occur.
Give your computer a bit of rest. If you leave your computer on all the time, you can often fix a problem by turning off the computer, then unplugging it (or remove the battery, if it is a laptop), then holding down the power button for 30 seconds while computer remains unplugged (this will often cause a light, or lights, to flash), then reinserting the battery, plugging the computer back in and powering it on. By cutting off the power to the motherboard, it allows the hardware to reset and the memory to clear.
Determine if your computer is overheating. You will need to take a look inside for this. Remember that any time you need to open up your computer cabinet, shut down your computer and unplug it. If you have long hair, tie it back. Take off any jewelry that might get in the way. Also avoid wearing any clothing that produces a lot of static, as a spark can damage hardware and cause intermittent, hard-to-troubleshoot problems.
Run a diagnostic check. Many computers now come with built-in diagnostics which can tell you if you have certain issues. Two brands of computer that normally have diagnostic options are HP/Compaq and Dell. To access these diagnostic options:
- Power down the computer, wait a few seconds then turn it back on.
- HP – Immediately start pressing F2 on startup to access the diagnostic menu. Select Start Up Test, Quick, One Pass (if option is present) to begin the testing process.
- Dell – Immediately start pressing F12 on startup to access the diagnostic menu. Use the arrow keys to select Diagnostics from the menu.
- Write down any error codes and consult the internet, the computer manufacturer or a local technician for assistance.
Open the cabinet of your computer and check the temperature of the metal chassis. If it’s hot, then there may be a heat related issue. For laptops, you generally do not want to try to open the case, but you can still vacuum the fan ports. Some computers just run hot, particularly laptops, but heat is never good for electronics. Gently examine the front and rear fans and blow out any dust. You can apply a clean cloth to dust out hidden particles. Remember: Your computer must be shut down while you’re cleaning inside it.
- If you have more than one hard drive in your computer, avoid installing them right next to each other in the chassis; this makes them more prone to heat failure. To install an extra hard drive in a wide slot, such as the slot that holds your CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drive, you can buy mounting brackets at a store that sells computer parts.
- Even if your computer isn’t having problems, it’s a good idea to clean the fans regularly.
- Before you close up the case, check all the cables and make sure everything is still plugged in. If you have to reset a video card or a stick of memory, avoid applying heavy pressure to the motherboard as this can damage it.
Inspect your device drivers. Many times when doing a Windows Update, your system may download and install an incorrect driver, which may result in the computer freezing. You can check the status of drivers from Device Manager. Any devices with a yellow exclamation next to them are in an error state. Unplug any USB devices, if connected, and see if the error goes away. If so, that device is a problem. Power-on your computer and see if it works. If it does, good; otherwise you can restore your computer to an earlier configuration. System Restore will roll your system back to an earlier set of drivers.
Try a System Restore. It can be accessed by pressing and holding the Windows Logo key and pressing R, and then typing “rstrui” in the Run dialog box. Using a restore point to restore your computer can remove software (like an app, driver, or update) that might be causing the problem.
- Once started, System Restore can NOT be interrupted, so be patient.
- Changes made to your PC by System Restore cannot be undone if you are running it in Safe Mode or the Windows Recovery Environment.
Inspect your hard disk. Your hard disk is a storehouse of information, so when it gets used for a long duration it might get cluttered and patchy; this slows down the performance of your computer. Hence, use your Windows utility CHKDSK to scan and remove bad sectors on regular basis. It is the best preventive way of maintaining computer health.
Install and run a good antivirus and anti-malware program.
Reinstall your operating system. If all else fails, reinstalling your operating system might help.
- Back up your files before doing this step.
Fixing a Computer That Turns on but Does Not Boot the OS or Shows a Blue Screen of Death at Startup
Check your power source. If your computer does not power on at all, the most likely culprits are either power supply (desktop only) or motherboard. Make sure the connectors are plugged in properly, and the switch on the back of the power supply is turned ON.
Fix when the computer does not boot or shows the blue screen. If your computer has power (you see lights, hear fans spinning), but nothing on the screen, or if the computer starts to boot up and then crashes with a ‘blue screen’, there are several possible issues. NOTE: Any hardware changes must be done while computer is completely powered down and unplugged/battery removed!!
- Try Safe Mode – if your computer will boot into Safe Mode, it is a software related issue.
- Test Screen – If you hear the computer running, but see nothing on the screen, try swapping monitors or plugging in an external monitor for laptops.
- Test RAM – try carefully removing the ram and powering on. Most computers, when functioning properly, will give a long, repeating ‘memory error’ beep. Power off and replace the ram, one stick at a time, powering on when ram is properly seated.
- Test Video Card – if your computer has a removable video card, try removing it and either replacing it or plugging your monitor into the built-in video port if available.
- If none of these things work, you are likely looking at a failed hard drive, corrupted operating system or failed motherboard. It is best to seek professional services at this time.