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4 Common Computer Problems and How to Solve Them

I’ve seen a variety of computer problems over the years.  However, despite all the various issues I’ve had to troubleshoot, there was always a similar pattern in the troubleshooting process.  

I’ve summed it up to 4 common computer problems, and have provided the solutions, as well.  But before diving into these common problems, I’d like to talk a bit about your computer’s lifespan.

If you’ve read my recent post on upgrading to a new computer, you’ll see that I talk about the typical lifespan of a PC computer being between 5 to 7 years.  And that’s being generous.  Industry standards, however, will tell you it’s 3 to 5 years.

So to keep it simple, let’s just say 5 years.  Anything past 5 years, automatically qualifies for an upgrade.  Let’s just agree on that, and use it as your benchmark for an upgrade.

OK now, let’s get into these 4 common computer problems.

Slow Computer (Most Common)

Slow Computer - Computer Problems

There are a variety of reasons why your computer is slow. The first and most obvious one is your RAM (Random Access Memory).  This is usually the first place I check when I get a complaint about a computer being slow.

I check to see how much RAM is installed, and what’s the maximum amount that computer can take.  In most cases, that computer will have about 50% of its total capacity installed.  In other words, the computer can take a total of 8 GB (Gigabytes) of RAM, but it only has 4 GB installed.  An easy solution to this problem…upgrade the RAM amount.  This will improve performance right away.

The tool that I use to determine RAM usage is crucialIt’s a memory and storage website that’ll tell you everything you need to know about your computer and its RAM.

Another reason I see a computer running slow is that there are too many apps that are starting up when your computer boots. This is a drain on your system resources.  If you’re running Windows 10, then you’d need to disable this in the Task Manager.

In Windows 7, the process is a bit different.  There’s a built-in tool within Windows called msconfig that’ll do the same thing as Task Manager but has more features.  You can actually use the msconfig utility in Windows 10 as well, however, when it comes to disabling the startup programs in Windows 10, it takes you to the Task Manager from there.

Malware

Malware is internet based.  Your computer gets infected because you went to a bad website, or downloaded a bad attachment from an email.  Essentially, malware clogs your computer’s registry, causing it to operate slowly and in some cases, not respond at all.  The thing with malware also is that it can get right past your anti-virus.  The entire premise behind the malware is to corrupt, remove or hijack your data.  Believe it or not, Ransomware is considered a type of Malware.  Hackers are able to get into your computer systems, with the intent to steal your data and hold it hostage for a nice payout.

My advice to dealing with Malware is to first, try to avoid it.  If you know a particular website is a bad site to visit, that’s filled with a lot of bad ads that tempt you to click on them, avoid visiting that site.  And if you do “need” to visit that site, then at least do so using a computer that’s not connected to a secure network.  In other words, don’t use your office computer to visit a bad website.  At the very least, use your own personal computer that’s not affiliated with your work.  Also, make sure to have some kind of protection on that computer.

However, if it’s too late, and you have already gotten infected, then I recommend using Malwarebytes and CCleaner.  They’re both pretty good at cleaning up your computer after they’ve been infected.  They both have free and paid versions.

Internet Connectivity Issues

Internet Issues - Computer Problems

Often times this is confused with computer performance (….thinking the computer is the problem), as opposed to the internet service.  There are 3 main factors that can contribute to internet connectivity issues:

  • Modem/Router – This is the device that controls both the input and output of your internet traffic.  This can be a two-in-one device, or they can be separate.  If the modem is separate from the router, then you would need to troubleshoot both devices individually.  In most cases, a simple reboot of each device is all that’s needed to get things back up and running.  If that doesn’t solve the issue, then you may want to consider replacing the device.
  • Ethernet/Network Cable – The culprit could be a bad network or ethernet cable.  Sometimes they’re referred to as cat 5 or cat 5e cable.  If you’ve narrowed this down to the cause of your internet issue, simply replace the cable with a new one.
  • ISP (Internet Service Provider) – The company that provides your internet service.  Most ISP supplies their own modem.  The device that converts data to a format your computer can understand (i.e. the internet).  As I mentioned, modems and routers can be the same device.  With improved technology, most ISP provides you with a modem with routing capability.  This makes for easier troubleshooting when identifying the cause of a slow internet connection. Instead of having to troubleshoot two devices, the emphasis is placed on that one device.  Your ISP can run appropriate tests, check the status of the modem, and identify exactly what the issue is.  All of which can be done remotely.

Hard Drive Issues

Hard drives don’t fail as much today as they did in years past.  The biggest problem today with hard drives is that they run out of space.  If your hard drive is full, this will most certainly affect the performance of your computer negatively.  My rule here is to always purchase a computer with more than enough storage space.  It’s always better to have too much storage and not need it than it is to have too little storage and needs more.  The latter is more expensive in the long run.  With the cost of hard drives being very affordable these days, it’s always good to invest to get more storage up front.

Back in the day (about 10 years or so…), one of the major issues with hard drives was the read/write heads would jam.  When that happens, that is an indication your hard drive is ready to call it quits.  How would you know the heads were jamming?  You would hear clicking noise coming from the hard drive when the computer was on.

Manufacturers today have remedied that problem by making much better hard drive technology.  Traditional disk-based hard drives are now made with much more durability.  There’s also SSD (Solid State Drive), which are hard drives with no disks in them.  A good example of an SSD hard drive is an external hard drive.  They are faster than traditional drives and designed to last longer.

To Conclude

Computer problems are a pain.  Nobody can stand a troublesome computer, including me, and I’m an IT pro!  However, knowing what to do when any of these 4 common issues occur, will give you a different perspective.  You’ll now look at the issues from a different lens.  Most people get stuck and do not know what to do when faced with these computer problems.  Hopefully, this post helps to get you unstuck.

Whether you’re taking on the job on your own, or having someone else do it, you now at least know what’s going on.  Even more importantly, you’ll know what to do.


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