Nothing mechanical is without problems and computers are no exceptions. If you’ve never had a problem with your computer, congratulations! Now, read on because it is inevitable that you will encounter one of these problems in the future, just as nearly everyone else has.
The most common computer complaint is slow performance. It’s not noticeable at first but eventually you’ll start complaining. When your computer slows down it may be because you haven’t performed the proper routine maintenance. You may have spyware, a corrupted registry or malware that’s slowing you down. Scan for adware, spyware and malware then clean your temporary files and empty your cache. Clean your registry with a free cleaner; several are available for download. Next you should do a disk cleanup by going to Start>All Programs>Accessories>System Tools>Disk Cleanup. Then defrag your PC by going to Start>All Programs>Accessories>System Tools>Disk Defragmenter. Defragging is best done before going to bed and leaving it to work all night. After all this, your computer should run much faster and will stay that way if you regularly repeat these steps. Defragging should only be done every few months but the other tasks should be at least a monthly habit.
Another problem many of us have encountered is a computer that shuts off or reboots without you initiating it. You’ll be hard at work or having some fun surfing and all of a sudden the PC restarts or shuts down altogether. Irritating as it is, this may have a simple solution. Check your PC’s fan; it may not be running properly or may be clogged with dirt. New fans are inexpensive and simple to install but it is imperative they are in good condition to keep the computer cool. Shutting down is a way to cool itself off when the fan is not working properly. Your power supply may also be in trouble; check the cables leading to your power supply first as well as the plug leading from the PC to the outlet. If all these are secure you may have a power supply that is on the verge of dying. You can buy a power supply for $25 on up.
If you’ve ever seen the “blue screen of death” you know why it is so called. If your computer throws that at you or locks up you may have trouble with malware or spyware. Restart your computer in safe mode and use your antivirus program followed by your malware detector. If that doesn’t solve the problem you’ll want to update your hardware drivers. If a program can’t find the proper driver it can cause your PC to lock up. To avoid these problems, scan your PC regularly and set your device settings to automatically update your drivers. Increasing your RAM and virtual memory will also help.
One very important clue that we have a problem is often overlooked. We log onto the internet and are taken not to our usual homepage but a commercial site or some other unfamiliar destination-or we find that our default search engine has been changed or we’re operating in a different browser. If this happens to you, you’ve been hijacked! There’s no need to panic but you do have to run a malware scan, a spyware scan and then your antivirus software–in that order. Chances are that will be enough to quarantine or delete the spyware that’s been installed on your computer. But how did you get such a malicious intruder? You probably clicked on a link in an email or on a social network, something you should never do particularly if it claims to be a link from your bank or some other site that contains your personal information. You can prevent most of these problems by not clicking on such links, even if they are sent to you by someone you trust.
Finally, I’m sure everyone has had problems with their PC after a power outage. Most of us have surge protectors but sometimes that isn’t enough to protect our computers. Power surges, spikes and problems with voltage are common during summer storms and winter electrical outages and can cause hardware damage, loss of data and other problems. The ideal solution to this is to install a UPS (uninterruptible power supply). You can get a basic UPS for around $50. When your power goes out the UPS kicks in and keeps your computer running until you can save any important information and shut it down properly.
Many computer problems are simple to solve but most could be avoided with some common sense precautions. Maintain the proper protection software and use it on a regular basis. Don’t click on links sent in an email or via social network and have a UPS backup for your computer.