Basic Troubleshooting

Troubleshooting

Basic troubleshooting can cover an extremely varied and diverse range of topics and problems.

This guide intends to provide advice to help with basic troubleshooting.

 

What do I do if...

1. the computer locks up and/or is acting weird?

2. the computer is completely dead?

3. the keyboard doesn't work?

4. the mouse doesn't work?

5. the computer displays a disk error or non-system disk message?

6. the computer starts up in "safe mode"?

7. the printer doesn't work?

8. The broadband connection doesn't work? 

 

The computer locks up and/or is acting weird?

If the computer is frozen and will not respond to any commands, it may be necessary to press Ctrl + Alt + Del (all three keys at the same time) to bring up the Task List. Select any program that says "Not responding" and click the End Task button.

Repeat until all tasks are ended. If this does not work, turn the computer off, wait several seconds, turn the computer back on, and let the computer run the Scandisk. Reboot it.

A majority of problems that occur while you are using your computer can be fixed by rebooting. Applications sometimes don’t release memory like they should when they are finished. The end result is your computer locks up or acts really weird. When you reboot, memory registers are cleared and most everything is reset. This fixes a lot of problems.

Special Note It doesn't hurt a computer to leave it running all the time. However, using the computer for long periods of time causes small problems that can build into larger ones. When Windows reboots, it fixes most of these small problems. Therefore, restarting the computer periodically while working can help reduce the risk of glitches.

 

The computer is completely dead?

Check all the connections, the cables between the CPU and the monitor and all the electrical cables. Check the wall socket or surge strip to see if they are bad (sometimes a surge strip will have good and bad outlets).

If you have a green light on your monitor but not on your CPU, then there is a problem with your CPU. If there is a green light on your CPU and not your monitor, then you have a problem with your monitor and your CPU may be fine.

If you have another monitor that you know is good, the quickest way to test is to put another monitor on the machine and see if you get an image on the screen.

If you have a light on both the monitor and the CPU, check the pins of the data cable between the monitor and the CPU. A single bent pin can cause an image problem.

 

The keyboard doesn't work?

1. Press Ctrl + Alt + Del (all three keys at the same time) to bring up the Task List. Select any program that says "Not responding" and click the End Task button. Repeat until all tasks are ended. Check periodically to see if the keyboard will work.

2. Check to make sure the keyboard is still properly connected to the computer. If the keyboard has been disconnected, you may have to reboot your computer.

3. If all else fails, then turn the power off. Wait a couple of minutes before turning the computer back on.

Special Note. One of the dirtiest parts of your computer is the keyboard. Regular cleaning will help keep the keyboard working properly. First, blow compressed air through the spaces in between the keys to remove dust and lint. If you shake your keyboard upside-down this will also remove some of the particles.

Another keyboard problem that could occur is when you turn your computer on and you get a message that no keyboard was detected or you get into Windows but are not able to type. Remove the keyboard connector for the CPU, examine the pins in the connector to ensure they are straight, then reinsert the connector. Also, check and make sure the mouse and keyboard connectors have not been switched.

If the keyboard still doesn’t work try connecting, another keyboard that you know is working. This will determine if you need a new keyboard or if you have a CPU problem.

 

The mouse doesn't work?

Check to make sure the mouse is still properly connected to the computer. If the mouse has been disconnected, you may have to reboot your computer AFTER reconnecting the mouse to ensure the computer recognises it.

Like the keyboard, the mouse pad is sitting in the open most of the time getting dusty, wet, slimed, or anything else that happens on you desktop. The mouse then rolls over whatever has collected on the mouse pad and gets inside, gumming up the works.

To clean the mouse pad, wipe it off occasionally with a damp cloth or get a new one.

You also need to clean your mouse regularly, as often as twice a week. If you turn your mouse over, you’ll notice a round ball with a cover over it. This cover can be twisted off and the ball will come out. Roll the ball on a clean, lint free cloth. Then take a look at the rollers inside the mouse. Take tweezers, a screwdriver, or even your fingernail to scratch the dirt and lint off the rods. Next, you should look inside the mouse and clean out any other dirt or lint that is hiding in there. Finally, replace the ball and twist back on the cover.

 

The computer displays a disk error or non-system disk message?

1. You may have left a disk in the A drive. Remove it and press any key on the keyboard to reboot the computer.

2. If you don’t have a disk in the A drive, and the message is accompanied by a "clunking" sound, turn the computer off and send for a technician. If you don't have a technician on staff and don't have a service contract either with ourselves or another reputable service provider, don't forget you can still use our pay-as-you-go service.

 

The computer starts up in "safe mode"?

At times your computer could develop a problem which causes you machine to boot up in what is called "safe mode". The easiest way to try and solve this problem is to run a "scandisk".

1. Click on Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools, and Scandisk.

2. Place a check on "Automatically fix errors".

3. When Scandisk finishes, reboot your computer to see if this fixed the problem.

4. If the computer still boots up in the Safe Mode, click on Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools, and Disk Defragmenter. If you receive the message "You don't need to defragment this drive now", continue with the process anyway.

5. When Disk Defragmenter is finished, reboot your computer to see if this fixed the problem.

6. If the computer still starts up in safe mode, you need to contact a computer technician. If you don't have a technician on staff and don't have a service contract either with ourselves or another reputable service provider, don't forget you can still use our pay-as-you-go service.

 

The printer doesn't work?

If the printer will not print at all, you need to determine if the printer itself will not work or if it is not receiving a print message from the computer.

1. Many models have a built-in self test option which allows you to print a test page by holding down the feed button for a few seconds. The power button will begin to flash and a test page will print.

If the printer self test fails, your problem is with the printer itself rather than the printer cable or computer. Should this occur, you should contact a technician. If you don't have a technician on staff and don't have a service contract either with ourselves or another reputable service provider, don't forget you can still use our pay-as-you-go service.


2. If the printer self test prints, the next step is to have Windows print a test page.

Click on Start, Settings, Printers, and right click on the icon of the printer with the problem.

Select properties and press the Print Test Page button. If the test page fails to print, make sure the printer cable is firmly seated in both the computer and the printer. You should also check the ends of the printer cable to make sure that none of the prongs are bent. If the test print fails, or if the print consists of nonsense characters or a few characters printed over many pages, you need to uninstall then reinstall the drivers for your printer.

Paper feed problems and jams can often be resolved by using paper which conforms with the specifications provided by the printer manufacturer. On ink jet printers, the rubber rolls which pick up each sheet can sometimes become coated with paper residue which decreases the friction. Cleaning off the residue can sometimes solve paper feed problems.

Special Note

If your ink jet printer is making a banging or grating noise, you need to clean two areas of the printer.

1. Some models of ink jet printers have a gray colored narrow plastic film which extends almost the whole width of the printer just behind the rod on which the print head travels. If this film gets dirty, the print heads can have problems determining where it is and can crash against the end of the printer. Use tissue or soft cloth to clean this strip.

2. The printer head moves across a rod that can also become dirty. With the printer power on, raise the front of the printer and clean the rod with a paper towel. Put the front of the printer back down and turn off the printer. This time when you lift the front of the printer, the printer heads will move across the rod. This will allow you to clean the part of the rod that was covered when you cleaned it the first time.

If you spray the paper towel with WD-40, this will do a better job of cleaning the rod. As the printer gets older, it may become necessary to perform these two cleaning jobs at least once a week.   

 

The Broadband connection doesn't work?

Reboot the Computer
It seems trivial, but you should always begin troubleshooting computer problems by rebooting your computer! This is particularly important if your computer has worked fine in the past and only just began to exhibit problems.

Power-Cycle the Router
Power-cycling the Router causes it to re-synchronize the signal and the network connection to your computer. Turn the Router off and unplug it. Then wait 30 seconds.

Plug the Router back in and turn it on. Wait another 30 seconds. Restart your computer.

Remove Any Network Devices
If possible, remove any network devices (such as network hubs, wireless routers, or network switches) that sit between your computer and the Router. By running your computer directly into the Router, you can eliminate the possibility that another device on your network is causing the problem.

Power LED Status
Check the status of the LED lights located on the front panel of the Router. “POWER” or “PWR” should be lit solid. If the power light is unlit or is flashing, try the following:

Ensure that the power supply is plugged in securely, both at the wall outlet and at the back of the Router. You may need to try a different wall outlet.

ADSL Link LED Status
“ADSL LINK” (sometimes marked “DSL” or “WAN”) should be lit solid. The ADSL Link light will flash when the Router is trying to connect to your Internet service. In most cases, it should take less than 30 seconds for your router to connect and display a solid light. If the ADSL link light continues to flash, try the following:

With the exception of your Router, ensure that all devices plugged into the phone line, including fax machines, satellite receivers, and alarm systems, have a ADSL line filter on them. These filters prevent interference with your ADSL signal. The Router should be the only unfiltered device on the phone line.

The phone cable coming from your Router should plug directly into the wall outlet. Try bypassing any splitters or other devices as they can sometimes cause interference with your ADSL signal. We suggest you remove and re-plug the phone cable into the Router and the wall jack to ensure the cable is plugged in securely. The cable should ‘click’ when it is pushed into place

Try moving the Router along with it's power supply and phone cable to a different telephone wall jack. There may be internal wiring issues causing problems with a specific wall jack or group of wall jacks at your location, you will get the best result if you run your Router directly into the telephone Network Interface Device (NID) - the primary wall jack that is connected to the outside telephone line - which can eliminate the possibility of inside wiring issues.

With your Router turned off, check the phone line for line noise. Audible phone line noise might be interfering with your ADSL signal. If you hear snaps or static when making a phone call, it is likely that the phone company will need to repair your wiring or the wiring in your premises may need to be checked.

LAN Link LED Status
The LAN light (labelled “PC” on some Routers) should be lit solid or blinking rapidly. The LAN link light will blink when your computer is sending or receiving data. It will remain solid while no data is being passed. If the link light is not lit or is red, try the following:

Make sure the Network (also known as ethernet) cable connecting your Router with your computer is plugged into the LAN port on the back of the Router. We suggest you remove and re-plug the cable into the Router and your computer to ensure the cable is plugged in securely. The cable should 'click' when it is pushed into place.

If there are any network devices between your computer and the Router, such as a hub or another Router, try bypassing them and run your computer directly into the Router. This will help you eliminate the possibility that one of these devices may be causing your problem.

The ethernet cable that connects your router with your computer may be bad. Try a different cable if possible.

If you have tried all of the above and the LAN LINK light is still not lit, please contact your ISP (Internet Service Provider such as TalkTalk or BT)'s Technical Support.

Check for Firewall 
If you are running a third-party firewall program on your computer, such as Norton Internet Security or Zone Alarm, these may be interfering with your computer’s ability to access the Internet. Try disabling any firewall program that you have running.


Helpful Advice from those Friendly People at DOT-COMmunICaTions