What to do before you
call the repair technician

By: Richard Steele
Oahu Island News

Over the years we have seen many people needlessly stressing out over problems with their computers. That is, problems that were not really problems in the first place. So many times ďproblemsĒ can be ďsolvedĒ by performing a few simple tasks that will reduce headaches, and save time and money.

If something is not working, or is not working as it should, the first thing to do is take a deep breath and think about what you last did to the machine to change the status quo. Did you install a program, add some new device, or change a setting? Itís easy not to put two and two together, but many times just undoing what you last did to the computer will correct the problem.

Other times, something manages to work its way loose. If the monitor or computer does not start when you press the button, check the wires going into the device to make sure they fit snugly. One study showed that nearly 80 percent of computer startup problems are just a loose connection. Too many times we are willing to turn a simple loose connection into a major troubleshooting affair.

Another common startup problem involves leaving a floppy disk in the drive. At startup, a somewhat cryptic message appears informing you to remove a disk and strike any key when ready. Take the floppy disk out and hit the space bar.

So you tried all these things and that blasted machine still wonít start, or it keeps crashing? Now, the problems can be a little more difficult to determine. Itís possible that the trouble is with a failed (or failing) hardware component like the hard drive, a RAM module or CPU fan.

But itís also possible that the problem could be with errant software. It could be a buggy program, corrupt code, or most likely these days a virus. Buggy programs are somewhat less prevalent than they used to be, but they are still out there. We never know how a program is going to react with other programs.

Viruses are now so prevalent and more likely to be received in your email, that itís almost guaranteed that your machine will be infected if you donít have an up-to-date antivirus. Thereís a wide variance in how machines react to the different viruses, and when no other explanation can be found, we usually suspect an infection.

The most perplexing can be the problems that are caused by a combination of things. A corrupt operating system file, combined with an intermittent failure of a hard drive or power supply, combined with a virus infection can keep you busy for days diagnosing the cause. For those types of trouble, take it to the technician. Let him have the stress.

Richard Steele is owner of Easy Computer, a training, repair, upgrade, and new computer store located at 1649 Kalakaua
Avenue, 942-3999.