The DIY guide to PC troubleshooting and repair

Scott dunn By Scott Dunn

The next time your computer acts up, drop the mouse, put down the phone, and use this troubleshooting checklist to find and fix the problem.

Whether it’s a slowdown, some strange behavior, or a total crash, a few basic troubleshooting tricks and tools may be all you need to get your PC back to peak performance.


Do this before you call the repair shop

If it hasn’t happened recently, it will soon: something goes wrong with your computer. If you ring up the repair shop or call tech support, the person you talk to probably has less PC experience than you do.

Save your time, trouble, and money by using these dozen tips and tools to ferret out system failures, application crashes, and bizarre Windows behaviors on your own.

Check the obvious. Whether your computer won’t start, your browser won’t browse, or your word processor won’t process, take a deep breath and check the usual suspects — power outages, unplugged or loose cords and cables, or an always-on monitor that somehow got turned off. If everything’s properly powered, reboot your PC or restart your modem. This simple step resolves a great number of random glitches.

Ask yourself what has changed about your system. If you recently installed new hardware or software, shut it down. Make sure a program isn’t running in the background by checking for its icon in the system tray. If it’s there, right-click the icon and choose Exit or Close.

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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2008-07-03: