IT Barrier (Common computer problems)
Windows Updates - This include all the critical and optional updates
A Windows Update won’t install – this happens a lot with .net updates but it could happen with any update
Office Updates - Updates related to your office application
Action Center Flags – This are several tasks that the system needs to perform for normal functioning of your OS
Create a repair disc – This is a popup prompt that you will get with any new computer
Missing Taskbar icons - Icons have disappeared from the Taskbar's notification area
No sound on windows – This problem is related to the default sound device selection.
Video display problems - Display problems are among the most common problems when upgrading the OS.
Clear printer queue – documents are piled up in the printer queue and you cannot print
Windows text font it’s too small – This is related to the DPI resolution, making it easier to read
PC won't sleep - PC is constantly working and you can hear the hard drive non-stop
Obsolete printer drivers – When you connect to temporary networks so printers get installed automatically on your laptop, they will need to be removed eventually
Verify system files – Sometimes malicious programs will corrupt or infect operating system files including drivers
Program compatibility problems – you are trying to install a new program but your operating system won’t take it
PC keeps rebooting after a windows update – when this problem occurs you won’t be able to login again in regular start-up mode
PC keeps rebooting - If your PC restarts suddenly after briefly displaying a blue screen (BSOD), then it's encountered a STOP error. If this keeps occurring you need to identify it.
System Restore not working – usually this is related to some kind of virus or malware infection. Restore points are cumulative in reverse – each new one saves only the latest changes – so old points rely on newer ones in order to work; if one gets corrupted then all older ones will not work. That means the older a Restore point, the less reliable it is, so avoid using anything but the most recent one.
Windows won’t start - You turn on your computer one day and Windows refuses to start. “Windows won’t boot” is a common symptom with a diversity of causes, meaning heavy troubleshooting ahead.
Windows driver problems – Manufacturers of PC hardware components are always dong research in order to solve problems or bugs with their drivers, usually after a few months there will be drivers updates for any device
Resolve ReadyBoost conflict - Your PC can only take one ReadyBoost device at a time, some computers can come with built-in flash memory already configured for use with ReadyBoost.
Fix sharing problems - Verify your PCs are on the same network – wireless or wired – and all on the same Homegroup, are you sharing files and printers?
Low memory errors - low memory problems include poor performance, low-memory or out-of-memory notifications, and display problems.
Delete old wireless networks – sometimes network administrators change the wireless settings, and we need to remove old networks before being able to connect to the network with the new settings
Preparing your desktop – sometimes when windows doesn’t shutdown properly it will create a temporary user account and your profile will appear empty, do not worry usually your files are somewhere in the hard disk
Cannot copy a file to USB key or Memory card – when you want to remove a USB key from your computer it need to be ejected first, if not corruption may occur. You could solve this by reformatting the key
A file opens with wrong program – This is related to the default program allocated to handle this file extension type (Easy fix, right click properties on the file in question and click “Change” then select the correct program)
PC won’t shut down – Usually this happens when there is a program that will not close down, not allowing the computer to shut down. Malware is one of the common causes for this
The Top 10 Causes of the IT Barrier
This list does not cover all the causes, but it is a good start point on understanding what causes slow performance when it comes to PC’s – This applies to all Operating Systems but it is specially compile for windows PC’s.
Cause #1: Your computer was running for a long time without a restart.
Every time you call your favorite PC technician, the first question he would ask is: “When was the last time that you restart your computer?”
What’s a Restart? The term restart is used to refer to a reboot when the operating system closes all programs and finalizes all pending input and output operations before initiating a soft reboot.
First of all, Boot and Reboot is the same as Start and Restart. Just a more technical term.
But what really do you have to do?:
Start (Boot) is when you turn your computer ON if it was on the off state.
Restart (Reboot) if your computer was already on, and you are manually choosing to restart it again.
What it means to your Computer:
When you start your computer it loads an operating system and starts the initial processes, from the powered-off state.
When you Restart the computer you basically shut down all the applications and processes that you have currently running and start again with all the programs that are set to start by default. This is usually required after activities that affect the normal functioning of the operating system: installing and uninstalling programs, implementing Windows updates, make changes to the PC’s registry, etc…
Do I have to reboot my computer every day?
No, you could have your computer up and running for a week and not have to perform a restart. But if you notice that your computer is slow, or you performed some windows updates, or you are trying to open a specific program and it doesn’t want to open. Then go for it and do a Restart, chances are that the problem will magically disappear and the computer will go back to its normal functioning.
FixPC Recommends: Never shut down your computer by removing the power from the PC, improper shutdown is the main cause of disc corruption and data loss, and should not be used. If you need to unplug your computer, save all your files and perform a normal shut down.
Cause #2: Your computer is infected with a Virus or Malware
If your computer is really slow and you notice a strange behavior chances are that you pick up a virus or a spyware. We strongly suggest to all our clients to use the best antivirus and not the most popular ones. We don’t leave the security of our clients to luck, we simply use and recommend ESET NOD32 to our clients in combination with Malwarebytes as an Antispyware software.
FixPC Recommends: You can download a free version of NOD32 and Malwarebytes, for a deep cleanup of viruses and malware – spyware.
Cause #3: Not enough RAM or free space on the Hard Drive
If the computer is running low on RAM or hard drive space it will get really slow to open programs, check emails or browsing the web.
RAM is an acronym for random access memory, a type of computer memory that can be accessed randomly; that is, any byte of memory can be accessed without touching the preceding bytes. RAM is the most common type of memory found in computers and other devices, everything that the computer needs to load for the proper functioning gets loaded into the RAM. If you open a new program and there is no place to load it on the RAM it will create a virtual RAM on the hard disk, which is very slow compared to the real RAM. This will really slow down your computer.
Also free hard drive space is simply the amount of space on the hard drive that can be written to and that isn’t in use. If you run out of free space the operating system (OS) will not be able to create the new temporary files for the normal functioning of the OS and it will bring it to an alt.
FixPC Recommends: Regular cleanup of temporary files, cookies and other temp files should be performed on a monthly basis for the proper functioning of the computer. I personally like CCleaner to perform this task.
Cause #4: Hard drive corrupted or fragmented
Data corruption refers to errors in computer data that occur during writing, reading, storage, transmission, or processing, which produce changes to the original state of the data. When data corruption occurs, the file containing the data will produce unexpected results when accessed by the system or the related application; it could result in a minor loss of data or a complete system crash. In this case make sure that you have all important information backed up before proceeding any further. If you have a backup you could perform an Error-Checking disk procedure. In order to do that just right click on your corrupted hard drive then click on the Tools tab and then under Error-Checking click Check Now.
Fragmentation means the storing of a file in separate areas of memory scattered throughout a hard disk. This condition also slow down your computer. This one is an easy fix. Make sure that you clear all the temporary files before. As you see on the image above under defragmentation you could click on defragment now and that will speed up the normal OS operations. In modern OS’s you could schedule this task to be performed weekly or monthly.
FixPC Recommends: File corruption is a very delicate area of expertise, if you have doubts please leave it to the experts.
Cause #5: Too Many Background programs
Unfortunately we need lots of software installed for the proper configuration of our OS and to be ready to perform all the task that we need. To name a few: Office, PDF Reader, Adobe Flash, Java, Antivirus, antispyware, VLC player, Google Chrome or Firefox, Skype, dropbox, Drivers for the Webcam, Mouse, keyboard, printer, etc...
The problem is that every program that we install, will create an entry on the OS that will start an application every time that the system load by default. All these programs use some of the available RAM, if you add all the programs that we open and don’t close (multi-tasking) it could pile up really fast and slow down your computer.
FixPC Recommends: A great way to see how much RAM you are using, is by opening the Task Manager then clicking on Performance. If you see on the picture below that system is running at around 30% RAM usage.
Cause #6: Outdated Device drivers
Device drivers are a very important pillar of the proper functioning of your computer. Drivers are a bunch of files that allow your hardware to communicate with your operating system effectively. When a driver is missing, outdated or corrupted, then the hardware it belongs to will not be able to operate on your computer. Every time you open the program associated with the device you are running will freeze, possibly causing the famous Blue Screen of Death (BSOD). When this happens you could lose important information, or data corruption may occur.
Manufacturers regularly update device drivers in order to fix bugs, errors, improve performance and upgrade the driver interface. Some manufacturers, like ASUS, Intel, ATI, NVDIA, Realtek, Microsoft, Brother, are constanly working on updating device drivers and the release of new drivers are done through their websites. Make sure that you never download a driver that doesn’t come from the original vendor’s website.
FixPC Recommends: You can see on your computer’s Device Manager if all your drivers are working properly, if you find an exclamation mark next to a driver it means that you need to find the proper driver. To pen the Device Manager, on the windows search type “Device Manager”
Cause #7: Your software is out of date
Make sure automatic windows updates is on and that you have all the latest updates and security patches installed on your computer. One of the main programs that viruses use as a bridge to come to your computer is outdated Java installations, make sure always that your Java version is the latest and remove older Java versions from your computer.
FixPC Recommends: Do not use an outdated version of Internet Explorer to browse the web, if you cannot update it, install Chrome or Firefox
Cause #8: Computer has too much dust or processor is overheating
Computer are real dust collectors, usually after a year or two functioning 24x7 in a dusty environment, chances are that the CPU heatsink is completely blocked. The heatsink is and aluminum grill that acts as a radiator and it has usually a fan on top.
The processor and the GPU are the most energy-intensive and heat generator components inside the computer. If the dust blocks the air from passing through then the computer will overheat and usually stop. Like a car engine the more it overheats, the more damage it could cause, as the intense heat will warp some of the internal components. To make sure your computer processor and GPU (Graphics Card) is not overheating, clean the inside with compress air at least once a year. Also make sure that the flow of air out of the computer is not obstructed.
FixPC Recommends: Never use a vacuum to remove the dust from the inside of a computer, static will fry the majority of the components. Make sure that your computer is properly shut down and then remove the power cables before opening the case. Hold still the fans inside the computer while applying compress air, if the fan spins to fast it could burn the bearings and cause a short-circuit. And finally, besides the fans blades do not touch anything else inside the computer.
Cause #9: Your PC requires a Memory upgrade
If you bought your computer more than 2 years ago, chances are that you could be due for a memory upgrade. If you use Windows 7 and only have 1 GB of RAM, then you need an upgrade. If you have windows 8.1 and you only have 2 GB’s of RAM then you need and upgrade. But if you have 4, 6 or 8 GB’s of RAM chances are this is not the problem that’s slowing your computer down. These days RAM is fairly cheap
To determine the amount of RAM that you have, go to: Control Panel -> System and Security -> System
FixPC Recommends: A quick way to find out how much memory your system supports, go to Google and type “your computer model” + “Max RAM” and you will quickly find out if you could go for the upgrade or not. Sometimes you don’t have room for more RAM, example you have 2 slots and you already have 2x512 MB (1GB’s), but you could remove both of them and add 2x2GB’s and have an upgrade of 3 GB’s to reach 4 GB’s in total.
Cause #10: Hardware Failure, your computer is getting too old!
The normal lifespan of a Hard Drive is 5 years, if your computer is older than 5 years, first thing; you have to make sure that your backup is up to date at all times. But if you notice that your computer is really slowing down, that you need more RAM, that you’re running out of free space on the hard disk, the fan is getting too loud, your operating system is not supported anymore (like Windows XP), then maybe the time has come to say farewell!
I recently bought an HP desktop computer for a client that had a few of the above mentioned problems for $270, here are the specs:
AMD QUAD CORE A4-5000, 4G DDR3, 500G HARD DRIVE, DVDRW, ATI AMD RADEON 8330, CARD-READER BUILT-IN, WIN 8.1 64 BIT, KEYBOARD + MOUSE
It’s not the fastest computer out there but more than enough for his needs. Not to mention a repair of his old computer would cost $220 in parts alone. So even if you are trying to work under a budget, there are choices for you!
FixPC Recommends: Buy a new computer – but consult your IT professional about buying a new PC before going to the store.
Everything that we mention in this article represent some of obstacles that help create what we call the "IT Barrier". FixPC-Care breaks that barrier! So you can move on and get to do your real work and never worry of IT problems again. FixPC-Care is available in the Greater Montréal Area and Laval call us 514-241-5453 to find out more!