Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Quick Checklist: Common Causes of Computer Faults

Almost every computer user has experienced operating failures at one time or another, such as crashing, not being able to turn on the computer, overheating and unstable noises. These symptoms can be attributed to a wide variety of issues like viruses, spyware, spam, incompatible components, unoptimized system settings, faulty hardware and old computer components.

Hardware Conflicts and Bad RAM
Many times, computer crashes are caused by hardware conflicts. When two hardware pieces, like a mouse and keyboard, share the same IRQ, or Interrupt Request Channel, a hardware conflict may occur. In order to avoid this aggravating problem, check the utilized IRQs. And if a device is sharing an IRQ with another device, reinstall the latest one.

Bad RAM, or Random Access Memory, is also a common cause of computer crashes. Most fatal exception errors are attributed to either serious hardware issues or mismatched RAM chips. When two RAM chips operate at different speeds, the computer is forced to run both of them at a low speed, resulting in a crash. So make sure both chips are running at the same speed. You can also enter the BIOS settings and increase the RAM's wait state.

BIOS Settings
Every motherboard is preset at a specified chipset range. In some cases, the setting causes a computer to crash. To investigate within the BIOS settings, look for CAS latency/RAM discrepancies. New SDRAM utilizes a “2” latency while old RAM uses a “3” latency.

Hard Disk Drives, OE Exceptions and Fatal VXD Errors
If you use your computer daily, the hard drive becomes fragmented every few weeks. This is why experts suggest weekly disk defragmentation. Performing this simple task will keep a computer operating fast and smooth. OE Exceptions and Fatal VXD Errors are usually due to video card problems. These issues are easily remedied by reducing the video display's resolution.

Spyware and Viruses
Viruses and spyware are a main culprit of computer instability and crashes. Besides running malcious codes, viruses will operate, many times undetected, in the system's background. This eventually causing the entire operating system to crash. The best way to keep viruses at bay are to scan each document, picture and attachment you download as well as refrain from opening e-mails by unkown senders. And of course, always perform a regular virus scan and quarantine.

Software and Printers
When software is not installed properly, it can cause an operating-system crash. If you install new software and immediately experience instability problems, uninstall the software. If there is improvement, the software is the problem.

Although it seems like they are fairly benign pieces of equipment, printers are also known to cause computer crashes. When a document is sent to the printer, the computer makes a postscript file. This file is larger than the original one. Because printers do not have big memories, they can easily become overloaded. If you are experience computer trouble during printing, turn the printer off for approximately 10 seconds and then, restart the printer.

Power Supplies and Overheating
Power supplies can cause a uprising amount of damage to a computer during a power outage or surge. It is recommended that every computer be plugged into an uninterrupted surge protector. Although this does not eliminate the chance of a power overload, a surge protector does significantly reduce the risk.

When a tower overheats, also known as a kernel error, the computer may make loud noises and internal components could become damaged. CPUs produce a lot of heat during operation. If your computer's fan is generating an overpowering noise, chances are you need to install a larger aftermarket fan.

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