BASIC COMPUTER TROUBLE SHOOTING TIPS

All computers at one time or another lock up or misbehave. They are imperfect machines built by imperfect beings. Thus, it is never a matter of "IF" they will lock up or misbehave, but, rather it is a matter of "WHEN" will they lock up or misbehave. A computer that locks up or behaves funny once in a long while is not an indication of a problem, just part of the norm. Only if a computer locks up or misbehaves regularly following a particular pattern, step, or operation is it an indication of a problem.

Well over 80% of all encountered computer problems can easily be resolved with a little know how and patience. The key in dealing with a computer problem is NOT to panic and carefully think the problem through! The following are step-by-step things to try if your computer system is not working properly or stops responding. As trivial or obvious as some of these steps may seem, you will be surprised how often they work in resolving the vast majority of encountered computer problems.

System does not power up

1. Check to see if your computer is properly plugged into the power source, e.g., UPS, outlet, or surge protector. Power cords sometimes come loose.

2. If your computer is plugged into an UPS or surge protector, make sure that it is turned on. Something may have tripped it.

3. Check to insure that all the different components are properly connected. Sometimes connections jiggle themselves loose.

4. Check the power button found on the computer power supply (where the power cord plugs into the computer). Many of the newer power supplies have an on/off breaker button on the back that sometimes gets tripped.

5. Try unplugging the computer from the power source, wait 30 seconds to five minutes, and plug it back in. The computer may be "confused" and in some sort of hibernation mode.

System powers up, but does not boot up

1. Carefully read any error messages that come up. The problem may be as simple as the keyboard or mouse not being plugged in.

2. Try booting from a system disk (e.g., bootable CD or flash drive). The operating system files on your hard drive may be damaged or missing.

Nothing appears on your monitor

1. Make sure that the monitor and computer are both turned on.

2. Make sure that the monitor is properly connected to a working outlet or that the UPS or surge protector is turned on.

3. Jiggle the data connection and make sure that it is properly inserted on both ends.

4. Check to see if the screen brightness and contrast controls are in their normal position.

5. Check to see if the screen saver has been activated or if the monitor or computer is in sleep or hibernation mode. Press any key on the keyboard to try to turn the display back on.

6. Is the monitor power light on? If you have done steps 1 through 5 and the power light is not on, chances are good that you have a dead monitor.

7. Is the power light flashing green or an amber color? If so, chances are good that the problem is with your computer and not the monitor.

Mouse does not work or stops responding

1. Check to see if the mouse is plugged correctly into the proper port. Sometimes they come loose.

2. If a USB mouse, try plugging it into a different USB port.

3. If working in Windows, reboot your machine by pressing <Alt><F4> until you get the Shut Down Windows dialog box. Using your arrow keys and TAB button, you can select the shut down option you want.

4. If your mouse is a non-optical mouse, it may be dirty. Turn your mouse upside down and clean the bottom. Open the bottom of your mouse where the ball is housed according to the directions printed on it's bottom (e.g., <<open and >>lock) and carefully clean the ball and the housing area.

5. If using an optical mouse, make sure that the surface you are running it over is clean and a solid pattern.  Optical mice work best with plain mouse pads.

6. If it is a cordless mouse, try changing the batteries.

Printer does not work

1. Make sure that the printer is turned on and plugged in.

2. Check to see if the printer is connected properly to your computer. If wireless, make sure the WiFi feature is turned on and configured correctly.

3. Check to see that the printer has paper and ink/toner.

4. Check the printer directly to make sure the printer is on-line or not in some setup mode.

5. Try turning it off, counting to ten, and then turning it back on.

6. Test to determine if you are having trouble printing from one program or multiple programs. If you can print from one program but not the other, it may be a printer setup problem from within the program.

7. If you are having trouble printing from an older program (e.g., written for Windows 98) or did a major Windows update, you may have to also update the printer driver or reinstall the printer software.

8. Check your printer's print manager settings to make sure it is not set to use off-line or is paused. Go START-CONTROL PANEL-DEVICES AND PRINTERS. Double click your printer then make sure under the PRINTER menu option that it is NOT set to work off-line or that pause printing is NOT turned on. Checkmarks next to these options mean they are turned on.

Internet does not work

1. Make sure that all cables are tightly plugged in and that the modem is turned on.

2. If using a broadband (DSL) or cable modem, unplug it from the power source, wait two to five minutes, then plug it back in. Most broadband and cable modems have three to four lights (e.g., power, Ethernet, DSL, and Internet). All lights should be a solid color when the connection is good. This may take several minutes to occur when you power up the modem.

3. If connecting your computer through a router (either cable or wireless), turn it off, wait two to five minutes, then turn it back on.

4. Do a complete shutdown of your computer. Wait 30 seconds to 5 minutes, then turn it back on.

Scanner does not work

1. Make sure that the scanner is turned on and plugged in.

2. Check to see if the scanner is connected properly to your computer.  If wireless, make sure the WiFi feature is turned on and configured correctly.

3. If a flat bed scanner, check to see that the scanner is not locked. The lock switch is usually on the back or bottom.

4. Try turning the scanner off, counting to ten, and then turning it back on.

5. Try shutting down your entire computer system, counting to ten, turning the scanner on first, then turning on the rest of your computer devices as you normally would.

Windows locks up while working

1. Try pressing the <Esc> key three to five times.

2. Press the <Ctrl><Alt><Delete> keys all at the same time. Windows will launch the Task Manager directly or bring up a list with an option for the Task Manager. The Task Manager lists all the programs you are currently running. Click the one task on the "Application" page that is not responding and click on End Task.

3. If step 2 does not work, press the RESET button on the CPU case in order to re-boot the system.

4. If you do not have a reset button on the CPU case, press the On/Off button in and hold it for five to ten seconds. Leave your computer off for thirty seconds to five minutes and turn it back on.

5. If step 4 does not work, unplug your computer from the power source, count to thirty, plug the power cord back in, and turn your computer back on.

Windows keeps locking up on boot up

1. Try turning off the computer, wait about five minutes, and power on the computer.

2. Shut down the computer. Unplug the power cord, count to thirty, plug the power cord back in, and turn your computer back on.

3. Take your computer into Safe Mode. Safe Mode is sometimes self-fixing. To do this, hold down the F8 key while booting up to get the startup selection screen. Select "Safe Mode" from the list. Once Safe Mode fully loads, do a shut down to restart the computer.

You are on a network and your computer cannot find a program or database file on the Server

1. Check to make sure that the network cable is properly plugged into the network card. Sometimes they come loose.

2. Check to insure that you are properly mapped to the server.

a) Double click on the "Computer" icon, or "My PC" icon if using Windows 10, on your desktop.

b) Check for the icon pointing to the server, e.g., "C on Server (E:)."

3. If the pointing icon is not in the Computer folder, map a drive to the server.

a) Right click on the "Computer" icon.

b) Left click on "Map Network Drive."

c) Select the drive letter to map.

d) Fill in the path information pointing to the server, you can also use the drop down arrow to select the path.

e) Press OK

Your computer slows down

1. Close out all your running programs and delete all the files from the TEMP folder (directory). Nothing worth keeping should ever be stored in this folder. Click START-RUN, type %temp%, and click OK.

2. Clean out the TEMPORARY INTERNET FILES folder. From your browser go TOOLS-INTERNET OPTIONS and use the Delete Files option.

3. Empty out the Recycle Bin.

4. Those with Windows 7 or greater can use the CleanDisk option. START-PROGRAMS-ACCESSORIES-SYSTEM TOOLS-CLEANDISK.

5. Run the Windows defrag program: START-PROGRAMS-ACCESSORIES- SYSTEM TOOLS-DISK DEFRAGMENTER.

6. If the problem is with only a database program, compact/re-index the database file(s).

Windows Password has expired error

If you get this password when connecting to a machine that is a Server, you can disable the password expiration option.

1. Go to the CONTROL PANEL on the machine you are trying to connect to.

2. Click USERS AND PASSWORDS

a) Click the ADVANCED TAB.

b) Click the ADVANCED command button.

c) Click the Users On Left.

d) Double click the USER NAME that is having the problem.

e) Check the PASSWORD NEVER EXPIRES option.

f) Press OK .

Cannot find the Documents Folder

The folder will be found under the Users name under the Documents and Settings folder, not in the drive root directory.

e.g., on the machine Server, the path is

\\Server\c\Documents and Settings\Server\My Documents

Backup Errors

1. Make sure all programs and files being backed up are closed.

2. Check the report to see which file being backed up failed and close that file.

3. Try the backup again.

4. If it still gives an error, reboot all the machines in the network and try the backup once again.

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