Introduction to PC Hardware Problems
A hardware problem is classified as a fault in an actual component (e.g. electrical failure) - or in the configuration of that component - leading to issues with the computer. It is distinct from a software or firmware problem, which is normally caused by a defect in the software or operating system code respectively.
A hardware problem is classified as a fault in an actual component - or in the configuration of that component - leading to issues with the computer
Hardware faults are normally more difficult to cure as they usually require the case to be opened up and investigated, rather than just applying a software patch.
It can often be quite difficult to distinguish hardware faults from software ones. The following are things which indicate the problem is likely to be hardware related:
A problem begins to occur regularly even though no new software has been installed or the operating system patched prior to the problem beginning
The problem occurs when a particular device is accessed or used
The problem appears to occur unpredictably: for example, the computer freezing or rebooting apparently randomly
The computer fails to boot, shows errors on the POST (Power On Self Test) screen or emits multiple beeps at startup time
Depending on the actual issue, a hardware problem is normally fixed in one of three ways:
- Downloading the latest driver for the problematic device
- Altering the device configuration in the BIOS set up program
- Swapping the faulty component for a new one
An excellent aid to PC diagnostics is to keep a simple Problem Log: whenever you experience a problem, note down the following in a notebook or central place so you have a record of the problems that occurred:
Over time, this will build up and give you a picture of how often the problem happens and if there are any trends or similarities between them
- What the problem was (-e.g. freeze, crash, application hung, etc)
- When it happened (-e.g. date and time)
- What you were doing at the time (-e.g. editing an image)
Over time, this will build up and give you a picture of how often the problem happens and if there are any trends or similarities between them (-e.g. running similar tasks, problems occurring at similar times, etc). This log will be your biggest ally in narrowing down the cause of any intermittent problems.