Below is a listing of basic troubleshooting steps for operating systems, software programs, and computer hardware. While solving computer problems can often be complex, more often than not, some basic troubleshooting will help you quickly fix the more common problems, which are often the simplest ones. Here are a few listed steps you should go through to systematically troubleshoot basic computer problems:
1. Free up RAM by closing other open programs.
Every piece of software uses Random Access Memory (RAM). The more software that’s running on your computer, the more RAM your computer is using. So if a software program refuses to load or is running slowly, the first thing to do is to close as many other open applications as you can.
2. Restart the software.
Software problems can stem from a conflict with other programs or simply from difficulties the software encountered when starting up. Shutting the program down and restarting it can sometimes resolve these issues.
3. Shut down and restart your computer.
This is my all-time favorite and often times solves more problems than realized. If you are running a busy schedule, have left your computer on for several days and often have multiple web browser pages along with MS Word documents open for that time period, your computer system resources like memory and CPU will get used to a point where your computer runs very slow. It is good practice to reboot your workstation after a few days to reclaim back those lost system resources. Once the computer has fully restarted, re-launch the application in question and see if the problem has been resolved.
4. Look for software updates/patches.
Software vendors may also fix bugs by issuing updates or patches — small software updates that address known problems and even malware fixes. Even if you’re using the most current version of the software, there may be a more recent patch available for that version. Both Windows and Mac workstations offer software updates that can resolve known hardware/software issues. Many software programs automatically prompt you to update the software. When prompted, make sure to run the update as soon as possible.
5. Scan for viruses and malware.
Viruses, spyware, and other forms of malicious software (or “malware”) can cause software to freeze, crash, or quit working entirely. Use the most thorough scan mode available, and restart your machine if the antivirus or anti-malware programs found any threats.
** Remember to never run two anti-virus software programs for everyday use on your workstation as this also can cause major system performance. (Ex. McAfee, Norton, Trend).
6. Removing all power sources from the device.
For those of you that use laptops, smartphones, or tablets, try removing the battery pack for at least one minute as a means to reset on-going system processes. After one minute, replace the battery pack and power up the device. Also it is a common occurrence with laptops that they will often not power up due to a corrupt battery. Take the battery out and try to startup strictly using AC power. Then replace the battery pack to see if it will properly charge. If it does not, you probably need to replace the battery.
If the tips listed above haven’t solved your software/hardware problem, it may be time to call your local tech support. IT support can always be reached by email at email@example.com, or by a simple phone call. Campus wide tech support is also available to faculty and staff by calling 777-1800.