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Computer Runs Too Slowly

This is the most immediate symptom of the need for more memory, or RAM. As described above, the system will use the hard drive as temporary storage when available RAM runs out. Access to the hard drive takes much longer than access to RAM. Therefore, if the system is constantly writing to and reading from the hard drive due to lack of available RAM, it will much slower than if the RAM were available. Increasing RAM size is probably the cheapest and most immediate solution to a faster system.

The other causes are VIRUS, SPYWARE, ADWARE, it is probably best left to a professional to solve.

Computer Won’t Boot Up

There are many reasons why this problem can occur, from a bad power supply to a bad hard drive or corrupt system files. If you encounter this problem, it is probably best left to a professional to solve.

Fatal System Error or "Blue Screen of Death"

This problem is normally caused by a program not behaving as it should. In other words, Windows doesn’t know what to do when the program issues certain instructions. The result can be either a message box indicating a fatal program error, or a blue screen indicating a fatal system error. The message box usually allows the user to terminate the offending program without affecting the operation of the rest of the system. The blue screen will normally require the user to reset the system.

A program will not behave properly for several reasons. The program may be corrupt. This can be caused by improper installation (by the program’s Setup program, not the user), bad memory (RAM), or bad data on the hard drive.

Run SCANDISK to verify the integrity of the hard drive. SCANDISK will check the hard drive for errors, and fix them if possible. Also, if there are spots on the hard drive which can no longer hold data, SCANDISK will mark these to prevent the system from trying to use the bad portions of the drive. See the section on User Maintenance for instructions on how and when to run SCANDISK.

If SCANDISK finds and fixes problems, a re-installation may fix the fatal error problem. First un-install the program in question to delete any files which may be corrupt. Then re-install the program according to the vendor’s instructions.

If SCANDISK doesn’t find hard drive problems, or the problem occurs with many programs, and randomly, the problem may be bad RAM chips. Have your memory tested by a professional. Incidentally, most memory chips sold today are guaranteed for life, so be sure to keep all purchase information if you upgrade your RAM.

Computer Locks Up

As with a failure to boot up, if the system lock-up cannot be associated with a particular action, diagnosis and resolution of this problem is best left to a professional. If the problem consistently occurs with only one program or device, re-install the program or device drivers. If this fails to fix the problem, consult a professional.

Printer Doesn’t Work

The most common cause of this problem is the wrong printer driver. If the printer was recently replaced, ensure that the old printer is no longer the default printer. In the CONTROL PANEL, double-click the PRINTERS icon. If the printer you are trying to print to does not have a check mark by it, do the following:

  1. Place the mouse cursor over the printer you wish to use as the default printer, and press the right mouse button.

  2. Select SET AS DEFAULT from the pop-up menu and press the left mouse button.

  3. The desired printer should now have a check mark next to its icon.

  4. Close the PRINTERS folder and the CONTROL PANEL.


If the desired printer is the default, verify the printer works by performing an off-line self-test as described in your printer’s manual. This is not the self-test run from Windows in the Printer Properties sheet, but rather a test run directly from the printer which verifies the operation of the printer mechanisms. Consult your printer manual.

If the off-line self-test works, try the Windows self-test. From the CONTROL PANEL, double-click the PRINTERS icon. Place the mouse cursor over the desired printer and press the right mouse button. Select PROPERTIES from the pop-up menu and press the left mouse button. The properties windows will have a PRINT TEST PAGE button. Click this button. If the test page prints properly, the problem most likely is in the software from which you are printing. Contact the software vendor.


If the test page does not print successfully, try deleting the printer, then re-installing it using the software provided by the printer manufacturer. To delete the printer, place the cursor over the printer icon in the PRINTERS folder and press the right mouse button. Select DELETE from the pop-up menu and press the left mouse button. Confirm deletion of the printer. Re-install the printer driver following the instructions provided by the printer manufacturer.

If none of the above solutions work, the problem may reside in either the printer cable or the printer itself. A printer with a bad interface board will print a good off-line self-test, but will not print from the computer due to the inability of the printer to communicate with the computer. The same holds true for a bad printer cable.

Display is Garbled

A garbled display usually indicates a bad video driver or settings which are incompatible with the monitor. The best way of determining if the problem is with the video driver is to start the system in Windows "Safe Mode." Safe Mode loads Windows without any hardware-specific drivers. Safe Mode is entered differently for Windows 95 and Windows 98 and Windows XP. As the system is booting up, press and hold the control (F8) key until the menu is displayed. Select Safe Mode and press enter. As Windows starts, it will present a message box indicating that the system is operating in Safe Mode. Click "OK" to continue. Once in Safe Mode, your display will probably not have the resolution or color you are used to. This is normal. If, however, you still cannot read the display, the video card is probably bad. See a professional to have it replaced. If you are able to read the display, then the driver for your video card is the most likely problem. You should have received a disk or CD with the appropriate driver for your card. If not, contact your PC manufacturer. Driver problems cannot be corrected without the proper video card driver.

Why Can’t I Upgrade My Computer?

You probably can. But, you may not be able to upgrade to what you want given your current system. Or, the "upgraded system" you end up with may have only the floppy drive and case left over from your old system. For example, the first Pentium processors run on a single voltage, supplied by the motherboard. Newer Pentium MMX processors require two different voltages. If your current motherboard cannot supply two correct voltages to the processor, you cannot upgrade your processor without a new motherboard. The same holds true, for a different reason, in upgrading from a Pentium MMX to a Pentium II or Pentium III processor. The Pentium II and III processors require a motherboard which is fundamentally different from an MMX motherboard. Again, a new motherboard is required with the new processor.

A new hard drive is always nice to have ??plenty of room for those multi-CD games. But again, you must be sure both your motherboard and operating system can handle the larger drives. The first versions of Windows 95 cannot "see" hard drives bigger than 2.1 gigabytes (GB). So, if you want a 6GB drive installed on such a system, it will have to be partitioned into several smaller drives. Windows 95 then sees the single hard drive as several smaller hard drives, and a letter is assigned to each one of these drives. Check with your computer professional to determine if your system can be upgraded to what you want or if it is more economical to buy a new system.

Why Does It Take So Long To Fix My Computer?

Computer repairs are handled on a first-come, first-serve basis. The length of time the system spends in the shop is directly related to both the number of systems waiting for service and the complexity of the problem on your system. Hardware upgrades or repairs are the easiest and fastest service problems. Software configuration problems, however, can take a long time to isolate. Additionally, every time configurations are changed, a fresh boot up sequence is required. Rather than charge a customer for the technician’s time to stand there and watch the boot up sequence, our repair procedures dictate that a technician observe such functions as boot up, scandisk, memory checks, or other time consuming functions only if observation (as opposed to viewing results) is necessary to diagnose or fix a problem. This helps keep our cost to the customer lower.

If I Know What’s Wrong With My System, Why Am I Charged A Diagnostic Fee?

Diagnosis takes time, sometimes a considerable amount. If you bring your computer in and tell us, for example, to change the sound card, that is what we will do, and charge you for that service. We will verify the sound card operation, and call you to pick up the system. You then bring the computer home and discover your speakers, not the sound card, were the problem. If, however, we were told that you weren’t getting sound, we would isolate the speakers as the problem and advise you accordingly. We will perform the tasks requested of us. If that does not include diagnosis, we will not charge for that service.

User Maintenance

User maintenance for a Windows-based system should be painless. Let the system do its work, and notify you only if there is a problem. There are only about 5 tasks the user should perform to ensure system operation and data integrity. The first 3 tasks are: BACK UP YOUR DATA! The last 2 are:

  1. Run SCANDISK regularly, and

  2. Keep your system clean and efficient.

Back-up Data

If you haven’t backed up your data in a while, do it now. If you backed up your data last week, do it now. If you backed up your data yesterday, do it now. Any programs on your system can be re-installed painlessly. Data can only be replaced if you have a back-up, or you have a paper trail to re-create the data. If you have a paper trail, plan to spend several hundred hours re-creating the data you lost. Think of your time, and its value to you. Compare that to the cost of a tape back-up system ($250.00). Even floppy back-ups are preferable to keying in lost data from paperwork. Recovery of data from a damaged hard drive can run into the thousands of dollars. If you’re one of those users who has "never had a problem," keep it that way and do regular back-ups.


SCANDISK is included with the Windows 95 and 98 operating systems. It is also included in later versions of MD-DOS. SCANDISK verifies the integrity of the file structure on the hard drive, and also evaluates the capability of the hard drive to accept and retain data.

SCANDISK should be run at least weekly. When run frequently, SCANDISK will find and repair corrupt data before the corruption is too extensive to repair.

To run SCANDISK, double-click on the "My Computer" icon on the desktop. Place the mouse cursor over the icon for your hard drive, press the right button and select "Properties." A window will pop up with information about your hard drive.


Click the "Tools" tab at the top of the window. You will be shown when you last performed SCANDISK, Backup, and DEFRAG. To run SCANDISK, click on the "Check Now??quot; button. You will be presented with a window of SCANDISK options


Check the "Thorough" button so that SCANDISK will perform tests on the entire surface of the hard drive. If SCANDISK finds bad areas on the hard drive, it will move as much recoverable data from that area as possible to a good part of the hard drive. SCANDISK will then mark the bad area so no data will ever be written there. If you check the "Automatically Fix Errors" box, SCANDISK will fix problems without prompting you. Otherwise, you will be prompted for each fix. Finally, click the "Options??quot; button. In the Surface Scan Options window, ensure that "System and data areas." Is checked. Click OK to close the Surface Scan Options window, then Start to begin SCANDISK.




Depending upon the size of your hard drive, SCANDISK may take a while to finish.

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