There is nothing more upsetting for a PC user than when there is
a problem with their machine. This can turn quickly to frustration
when the problem seems to be impossible to solve, or even to understand.
Every PC user has experienced these feelings, but it is possible
to both diagnose and correct most problems with the typical PC.
And with some help, you can usually do it yourself.
most important resource you can have at your disposal when you are
trying to troubleshoot a problem with your PC is experience. Those
who have done a lot of work diagnosing and correcting problems with
a wide variety of PCs develop a knack for recognising problem situations
that they have seen before. They also learn (and invent) techniques
that make it possible for them to get to the root of a problem quickly.
no substitute for experience, but I’m hoping that the few
tips I present will be the next best thing. After all, gaining experience
with PC problems is not the sweetest of experiences anyway, especially
when the machine is your own. Experience in this field includes
both general rules of thumb regarding how to troubleshoot your PC,
as well as information on dealing with vendor warranties, and repairing
is a mind game
Don’t panic! This not only makes it difficult to deal with
the problem, but also can potentially worsen it. Have patience with
yourself and with the machine and never overestimate the magnitude
of the problem. More often than not, the problem is simple and can
be resolved easily. In fact, there are many problems with PCs that
appear to be serious but are not. It isn’t always possible
to tell at the beginning how serious a problem is by its outward
symptoms. For example, there are some problems that can manifest
themselves with your hard disk appearing to be crashed. Sometimes
real crashes do occur, but there are other problems that can cause
a disk to appear crashed when really the problem is simple and can
be fixed in a matter of minutes. Panicking can also lead you to
jump to a solution to the perceived problem before you really understand
it, which can make matters worse.
to understand what the problem is, and give yourself plenty of time
to do so. Keep an open mind. The PC is not doing whatever it is
doing intentionally to annoy you. It is not alive; it has no feelings,
no motivations and no agenda. There is a logical reason for everything
that a PC does, although it can seem like the PC is “out to
get you”. Keep your cool all the time.
the vendor do the work
When the first symptoms of computer trouble surface, the
wisest thing to do is to take it back to your computer vendor and
get him to fix it. This is especially valid during your warranty
period for two reasons. One is that it will save you your time and
money and the other reason is that you may be in breach of your
warranty agreement if you try to open up your machine in your efforts
to fix it yourself and hence lose the warranty altogether. Your
computer vendor is probably far better equipped to troubleshoot
the problem than you are.
If you experience any strange behaviour in your system,
as it is booting, or shortly after it completes, you should always
use whatever antivirus software you own to do a full scan of the
system before you do anything else. You should use a clean boot
floppy if possible.
not fall into the “this can’t be a virus” trap.
If you turn the power on and nothing happens at all, or if your
hard disk won’t spin up, or if your system seizes while it
is doing the initial BIOS power-on test of your system memory, these
are hardware problems that are not caused by a virus. Any other
symptom that appears to be a hardware issue can be either a hardware
problem or simply a virus that is trying to masquerade as a hardware
problem. To remove the complicating factor of always having to wonder
“is this a virus?” scan your system before you spend
a lot of time chasing ghosts.
any recent changes
Ask yourself: when did the problem I am experiencing first
start? If you have just made any change to your system, and are
now having a problem with your PC that was not present before the
change, the chances are that the change is the cause of the problem.
This is true even if the problem seems to have absolutely nothing
to do with what you changed.
absolutely crucial rule to keep in mind when troubleshooting a PC
is that, if there are too many unknowns then it is impossible to
pinpoint the exact problem. If you have many possible causes for
some difficulty with your system, it can be difficult to narrow
down the cause of the problem to any one of them. In order to have
a fighting chance at figuring out what is going on, you must simplify
the situation as much as possible so that it becomes much more obvious
what is responsible for the difficulty.
out next week for tips on how to optimise the performance of your
PC and make the most of what you have. Until then keep those emails
rolling into email@example.com
your computer literacy
Short for intraframe, this is a video compression method used by
the MPEG standard. In a motion sequence, individual frames of pictures
are grouped together (called a group of pictures, or GOP) and played
back so that the viewer registers the video’s spatial motion.
Also called a keyframe, an I-frame is a single frame of digital
content that the compressor examines independent of the frames that
precede and follow it and stores all of the data needed to display
that frame. Typically, I-frames are interspersed with P-frames and
B-frames in a compressed video. The more I-frames that are contained,
the better quality the video will be. However, I-frames contain
the most amount of bits and therefore take up more space on the
Short for predictive frame, or predicted frame this is
a video compression method used by the MPEG standard. P-frames follow
I-frames and contain only the data that have changed from the preceding
I-frame (such as colour or content changes). Because of this, P-frames
depend on the I-frames to fill in most of the data.
Short for bi-directional frame, or bi-directional predictive
frame, this is a video compression method used by the MPEG standard.
As the name suggests, B-frames rely on the frames preceding and
following them. B-frames contain only the data that have changed
from the preceding frame or are different from the data in the very
P-frames and B-frames are also referred to as delta frames.