You’re right in the middle of something and your computer starts acting up. Is it the app you’re working in or your device that’s the problem? How can you tell the difference between hardware and hacking?
Most problems are software problems. Some are definitely hardware problems. And some can be caused by one or the other. This chart lists 16 of the most common problems. Knowing where to start troubleshooting can save you lots of time. And if you need to call in the cavalry, you’ll know which customer service department to call.
Note: Of course, there are exceptions to the rule.
|Computer is slow||Could be malware, too many start-up items (Windows) or build up of temporary files||Could be hard drive is fragmented or starting to fail, not enough RAM or an old CPU|
|Computer keeps restarting||Could be automatic OS update problem, adware, virus or other malware||Could be graphics card, motherboard or network card drivers|
|Keyboard, mouse, printer or other peripherals aren’t working properly||Could be driver issues||Could be computer port issues or peripheral component issues|
|Peripheral commands interpreted incorrectly||✓|
|App command not working||Software if it’s happening in only one app||Hardware if it’s happening in more than one app|
|Internet is slow||Could be an app in background is consuming the bandwidth||Could be hard disk failing|
|Downloads take forever||✓|
|Attachments won’t open||✓|
|PC blue screen of death||✓ (although it could be your drivers)|
|Corrupt files or long delays accessing files||✓|
|Google performing oddly||✓|
|Sudden shut off…or sudden anything weird||✓|
|Graphical errors like your computer screen is jumbled||✓|
If you’re lucky, your problem is a software problem that can be easily resolved by running a repair utility or uninstalling and reinstalling if it’s a desktop app or logging off and on again if it’s a cloud app. To keep problems away, keep your software updated. To keep your computer clean and in good shape, pay attention when things seem weird so you can start troubleshooting before it ruins your day. If you get a new computer and it’s having problems already — quick, trade it in while you still can.