Basic computer training is essential to effectively troubleshoot computer devices. Lots of courses are available that are quite specialist, but I find the best way to train is to do it yourself.
It is frustrating having a broken device. We are so reliant on them in everyday life that it becomes difficult to be without them for any great length of time. Taking your broken device to a computer repair shop takes time and money.
Most technical problems experienced by everyday users are generally straightforward to fix. Wouldn't it be useful to understand troubleshooting basics and have the right equipment to hand, so you can do it yourself, saving both time and money in the process?
If this sounds appealing, then you have come to the right page. What follows is a mix of basic troubleshooting approaches, hints, tips and tricks.
Before getting in to the detail of addressing technical issues and the supporting tools to make your life easier, we first take a look at the 5 golden computer troubleshooting principles (Opens New Window) that is essential reading.
Computer troubleshooting is a frustrating business. To avoid the stress that comes with annoying technical problems, you need a methodical approach that works for resolving the majority of technical issues, when applied correctly.
One of the key tasks here is to quickly identify the root cause of a problem, then find a resolution that works. This drastically reduce the time it takes to resolve an issue.
Repairing equipment yourself is a money saver. With the right approach and appropriate computer repair equipment, you too can maintain your devices like an IT professional.
I know from experience how much time can be wasted if you do not have the right equipment to hand when you are troubleshooting PC problems. You need tools such as:-
However, before we get in to the detail, we start at the beginning by looking at different toolkit bags and boxes. You need something in which to store and carry your tools, and as you see in the image below, bags come with lots of compartments. As your tool set increases it becomes easy to lose things. Compartments are a time saver!
We then look at the core tools you need to include in your Computer Tool Kit (Opens New Window) bag, or box, such as pen torches. Needle nose pliers and paper clips (yes, really!).
Before you even attempt to put your basic computer training into practice, you must consider how to keep your devices, components, and especially internal components, safe from ESD, or ElectroStatic Discharge.
I have seen ESD in action, and it can kill your hard drive and other components dead in the blink of an eye. Many people ignore the risks, and it baffles me. I do wonder if this is because ESD is not harmful to people?
The PC Repair Tools (Opens New Window) article focuses on your options for preventing ESD damage, such as wrist straps, vinyl mats and brushes.
The PC Tool Kit (Opens New Window) article focuses on supporting tools such as test or analyser cards.
These cards are for use inside your machine test your Power Supply Unit (PSU), Motherboard and Hard Disk Drive (HDD), to name but a few.
The article discusses each type of card or device, and includes both instructions for use and interpretation of results. Inserting or connecting testers to the inside of a computer sounds daunting. However, it really is much easier than you think, and the analyser cards are cheap!
There are some advanced techniques discussed in this article, but nothing ventured, nothing gained when it comes to developing your basic computer training awareness.
A robust set of Computer Repair Tools (Opens New Window) includes a variety of adapters.
These are required when working with HDD's and different types of PSU's, especially when working with older devices and newer components.
Universal Power adapters provide flexibility when working on Laptops. In my experience, when someone asks you to 'take a quick look at their Laptop', they inevitably bring the Laptop, and nothing else. How do they expect me to charge it? By air? Also, quite often the Laptop battery is not even fully charged.
These are the sorts of pitfalls you pick up on with years of experience, but you can learn it quickly, by simply reading through the articles on this page.
Internal adapters help to expand the number of power connectors inside a computer, for example, to connect additional components such as hard drives if you want to perform a data copy exercise. External or portable hard drives are also an option.
Your Computer Toolkit (Opens New Window) would not be complete without an assortment of cables and components. You never know what you might need when troubleshooting different types of devices.
Different types of RAM, HDD's, PSU's, and cabling such as kettle leads, SATA cables and network cables are all considerations. Just make sure your cable is of sufficient length. There is nothing more frustrating that having the right cable but the wrong length to do what you need to do!
When considering Computer Repair Technician Tools (Opens New Window) you should always include components and accessories that will make your life easier and safer.
Here we discuss what those items should be, for example, mice, compressed air, hand sanitizer and pill boxes, which are very useful for collecting screws and other small items.
The process in a Microsoft Windows environment is very similar irrespective of the make and model of your sound card.
If you want your new sound card to work correctly, you need to install the drivers issued by the manufacturer, rather than the inbuilt Windows drivers. This is because they are technically more compatible and provide more functionality.
Now you have your drivers installed, everything should be working fine. However, one day, you come across a problem! Is your Sound Card Not Working? (Opens New Window). In this tutorial we look at troubleshooting approaches, following well-known computer professional methods.
Generally, you check your peripherals e.g. are the external speakers plugged in correctly, then move on to software checks such as sound settings and device drivers. If these checks do not resolve your issue, it is time to check internal components. Simply 're-seating' the sound card can resolve an issue.
Wireless network connectivity is a common issue that most of us has experienced at one time or another.
Power outages, ISP service disruption, network congestion and faulty, or incorrectly setup hardware and software, can all play a part in disrupting your online experience.
The importance of wireless connectivity in today's world cannot be underestimated, and is on a par with water, gas and other essential utilities. When our wireless access is unavailable, we notice because what we take for granted these days. I know I do.
It therefore makes sense to cover the important topic of what to do when you are experiencing wireless access issues. That is the theme of the WiFi not working article (Opens New Window).
In my experience, Wi-Fi issues tend to originate from either the Wi-Fi service itself, or the wireless devices capability of connecting to that service.
Each area has several troubleshooting techniques for you to review and consider using to fix your wireless network issues. Examples include router reboots, service optimization and automatic network connectivity settings.
Millions of hard disk drives fail each year, and for many reasons including mechanical issues like scratched platters, and logical issues such as corrupted Master Boot Records.
The hard disk drive failure fix article (Opens New Window) looks at the different tell-tale signs that your HDD is going to fail. Symptoms can include random freezing events, shut downs, and the Blue Screen of Death.
We also look at the various underlying causes of hard drive failures, including overheating, bad clusters or sectors and the dreaded "click of death".
Next we look at how to test your hard disks for any issues. There are various commands built in to Microsoft Windows, and specialist tools such as HDD Scan that can be used to perform various tests for potential issues.
We then review the options you have for both fixing and protecting yourself from HDD failures.
Basic computer training provided by the tutorials in this section can give you the confidence to try troubleshooting computer issues yourself. The approach, regardless of the problem, is just about the same.
Wiki How (Opens New Window) provides excellent general advice on how to troubleshoot a computer.
Resolving technical issues yourself is not always straightforward, but it is certainly not impossible. Give it a go!