Solutions to Common Computer Problems - CCUG-PC

Report
Solutions to
Common Computer
Problems
New Orleans Personal Computer Club
May 2010
Hardware Issues - Desktops
• Unusual noises
– Failing fans
– Hard drive dying
• Power supply dying or underpowered
– Consumer-level machines usually have small
supplies
• Bad capacitors
• Electrical issues
Hardware Issues – Desktops
• Environmental issues
– Dust
– Pets
– Food particles
– Vermin
• Usually through missing slot covers
– Tobacco stains mixed with any of the above
Hardware Issues – Desktops
• Preventative Maintenance
– Use canned air periodically to dust out insides
• Depending on environment, you might take want to
take PC outside for its dusting
– Use a good surge suppressor or better, an
Uninterruptable Power Supply
– Use power saving functions responsibly and
turn off (or Standby) computers when not in
use for more than a few hours
Hardware Issues – Laptops
• Loose screen hinges
• Power jack coming loose
• Battery unable to hold a charge
– Average lifespan of laptop batteries is about
3-4 years
– Time span of charge usually will depreciate
towards end of life
– Third-party replacements are widely available
for most models
Hardware Issues – Laptops
• Environmental issues
– Dust
– Pets
– Food particles
– Accidental abuse
• Cracked display most common
Hardware Issues – Laptops
• Preventative Maintenance
– Get a good carrying case or knapsack with
adequate padding
– Keep it away from environmental hazards
• Pets
• Short-tempered people
Windows OS issues
• Blue Screens Of Death (BSOD)
• Viruses, Spyware, Ad-ware (Malware)
– Make sure security program’s definition/ pattern files are up-todate
– Beware of drive-by downloads!
– Recommend ad-blocking extensions
• Cryptic Error Messages
– Plug error message into search engine; somebody else is likely
to have experienced it and inquired about it
• Application errors
• Driver errors
– Check manufacturer site for any possible updates
Windows OS issues
• Performance (overall speed) issues
– Many items/folders on Desktop, items in System Tray
• Do NOT store any data files on the desktop!
• MSCONFIG is diagnostic utility; do not check Selective
Startup, disable individual items and leave it
– RAM amount
• Many hardware vendors will cheap out on this since RAM is
expensive when new
– When adding RAM, use fastest speed supported by PC’s
motherboard; usually no or little price difference
– Stick with name brands; don’t use generic/OEM compatible
modules
• XP needs 512mb, recommend about 1gig
• Vista/7 needs 1gig, recommend about 2gigs or more
Windows OS issues
• Performance issues
– Clutter
• Most new consumer machines are bundled with
what can be termed as shovelware – can be
uninstalled with enough effort
• On Vista/7, turn Sidebar off
• Windows accumulates a lot of files that are
supposed to get automatically deleted but don’t
– Fragmentation
Windows OS issues
• Preventative Maintenance
– Periodically run a cleaner utility such as CCleaner
– Periodically defrag the hard drive(s)
– Run virus scanner on some type of schedule
• Install ONE antivirus program
– Store data files somewhere under Documents or My
Documents folder
– Delete obsolete data
– Uninstall trialware from system
– Develop backup regimen
Windows OS issues
• Preventative Maintenance
– Resist the urge to install any new program or
add-on that claims to make life easier
– Limit programs running in the System Tray
– Limit access to physical computer
• If not possible, set up strong password on user
account(s), and also on the Administrator account
Windows OS issues
• Reinstallation, rebuild, Nuke & Pave
– Do it only as a last resort
– When properly maintained, Windows installations can
run properly for many years
– If your PC uses a recovery partition with the option for
user-generated recovery media, DO IT!
– If rebuild is needed, schedule a large amount of time
for this task
• Backup all data first
• Have all install media at hand
• A good Windows install can take at least 3 hours
Internet Service Provider Issues
• Connectivity
– Verify PC is getting IP address
– If using wireless, try wired connection
• Dell laptops automatically disable wired network
port when on battery power!
– If using a wireless or wired router, sometimes
it is necessary to bypass it for effective
troubleshooting
Internet Service Provider Issues
• Connectivity – cable modem setups
– If switching around equipment on cable
modem, power cycle modem for at least
*three minutes*
– Cable modems require RG6 coaxial cable in
order to maintain a steady connection (many
older installations have RG-59, which is much
thinner)
– Many Motorola SURFBoard modems have a
Standby button on top- never touch it!
Internet Service Provider Issues
• Connectivity – DSL modem setups
– Make absolutely sure filters are in place
• Make sure DSL modem is NOT filtered!
– Fax machines, answering devices all need to
be filtered
– Alarm systems with auto-dialers will likely
need outside filter
– When using routers with DSL modems, set
modem to Bridged Ethernet, set router to
PPPoE with UserID + Password
Internet Service Provider Issues
• Slow speeds
– When in doubt, check using a good testing
site like www.speedtest.net
– Check only on wired network connection;
wireless and USB connections do not count!
• Many cordless phones use 2.4ghz band
– Check multiple times, and turn off
unnecessary internet-using apps
– Upgrade router firmware, if available
Internet Issues
• Preventative maintenance
– Do NOT click on any type of link on a web page that
is an obvious advertisement
– Resist signing up for “special offers” and other ploys
to get your marketing information
– Use strong passwords on sites that require a login ID
• Use special characters when allowed
– Use a browser other than Internet Explorer
– Make sure wireless connection is locked down using
encryption, at least WPA-level
Getting Outside Help
• Sometimes it’s necessary; recognize your
limits
• Minimize outside distractions
• Communicate clearly
• Follow troubleshooting instructions, be
able to read error messages that are
showing
• Treat the tech professionally
• Answer all questions as best as possible
Getting Outside Help - ISPs
• Problems such as passwords, mail client
configurations, and power cycling do not require
on-site trouble call visits
• If the ISP has to send a tech for a trouble call
and the problem is found to be anywhere in
Customer Premise Equipment, the service call is
billable to the customer
– Exception: the customer is paying extra for insurance
on services

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