FIX PC COMPUTERS

and troubleshooting problems

for Windows users

Made 9 March 2010.
Revised 17 February 2014.
Jon Schweitzer

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See the Computer Internet Security Class and Web Site at http://www.encinojon.com/comintsec/
See the PC Computer System Care and Maintenance Web Site and Class at http://www.encinojon.com/computercare/

Main Topics
1. Locating the problem
2. External Hardware Problems
3. Software Problems
4. Cleaning Out Files and Correcting Registry Files
5. Internet Problems
6. Internal Hardware Problems
7. Computer Problems
8. Help Websites
9. Internal Hardware Repairs
10. Improve Computer Performance, Efficiency and Disk Management
11. Computer Books
12. Disposing of your old computer

1. Locating the problem
Is the problem related to the external or internal hardware, software, or the Windows operating system?
You must analyze and troubleshoot to determine the reason for the problem.
This site will only give a few of the common problems and solutions.
You might have to search for the solution at the sites on this site or search on the Internet for the solution.
What activities took place before or during the discovery of the problem?
One troubleshooting method is to reverse your latest activity such as disconnect the external device or uninstall the software you just installed.
If your problem is only a question about how to do something with the Windows Operating System, search for the answer on the Internet using Google OR see section 11. Computer Books below and buy a book online.

See these helpful sites: http://www.microsoft.com/athome/troubleshoot101.aspx
http://www.everythingcomputers.com/troubleg.htm
http://www.computerhope.com/basic.htm
http://pcsupport.about.com/od/findtheproblem/Find_the_Cause_of_Your_Computer_Problem.htm
http://www.directron.com/howtobuilyou.html
http://www.internet4classrooms.com/support.htm

2. External Hardware Problems
Disconnect the external device(s).
See this help site: http://www.buzzle.com/articles/hardware-repair-computer-hardware-troubleshooting-tips-and-tools.html
Printers - see these sites: http://www.fixyourownprinter.com/ and http://repair4printer.org/ and http://www.eserviceinfo.com/equipment_type/Printers_22.html
Monitor pixels - To fix a bad or stuck pixel in a LCD monitor see http://www.wikihow.com/Fix-a-Stuck-Pixel-on-an-LCD-Monitor

3. Software Problems

Your problems might be corrected if you use the first 3 free programs in 4. below.

The tasks below are written for the Windows XP.
Program locks up (stalls)
Holding down Ctrl +Alt and press Delete once, Close Program box appears, Click program you want to close and Click End Task, Dialog box appears and Click End Task to close program. Repeat the operation to close all unnecessary programs. You could have virus or Malware in your computer. Reboot and rapidly press F8 to gain access to the "Safe Mode" and then use your security software to scan for viruses or Malware. See my Computer Internet Security Class and Website at http://www.encinojon.com/comintsec/

If you have big problems and the above doesn't work, try a keyboard soft reboot by holding down Ctrl +Alt and press Delete twice or the reboot button on the front of computer or unplug the computer.
Also try turning off your computer, wait 5 minutes before turning it back on.
Reboot at least 6 times.
Open the Windows XP Task Manager and look at the CPU activity to see what has the 80 to 99% activity and shut it down. See Opening the and using the Windows XP Task Manager at: http://vlaurie.com/computers2/Articles/taskman.htm Make a shortcut for the Windows XP Task Manager.

Backup any data and uninstall and reinstall the problem software. Disable the Screensaver. If you have had many problems or annoyances with Windows Visa, I suggest you upgrade to Windows 7. See the top 10 annoyances with Windows Vista at: http://articles.techrepublic.com.com/5100-10878_11-6170816.html "How To Upgrade Vista To Windows 7" at http://www.intowindows.com/how-to-do-vista-to-windows-7-upgrade/
Best Free Technical Support Sites are at http://www.techsupportalert.com/best_free_tech_support_sites.htm

Your problems might be corrected if you use the first 3 free programs in 4. below.

4. Cleaning Out Files and Correcting Registry Files
Clean the files in your computer using the FREE CCleaner program downloaded at http://www.ccleaner.com/ I use it once a week. This program will do such an excellent job of cleaning you MUST be careful what you remove by reviewing the several lists of things on the left that can be removed.

Use a registry correcting or cleaning program like Eusing FREE Registry Cleaner that is downloaded at http://www.eusing.com/free_registry_cleaner/registry_cleaner.htm

Also use the FREE "ALL In One Cleaner, Repair, Protect, and Optimize program" Advanced WindowsCare that is downloaded at http://majorgeeks.com/Advanced_WindowsCare_v2_Personal_d4991.html

Use the last two programs at least once a month or when you remove a program or have a computer or software problem.

If you buy a new PC you must clean out all the JUNK that the vendor or PC manufacturer installed to make money. See this WEBSITE and download the free Decrapifer program at http://www.pcdecrapifier.com/

Free Programs and Tools - the Best
See many of the best FREE programs at Gizmo's at http://www.techsupportalert.com/

A Great list of many FREE programs (tools) are at Windows Secrets at http://windowssecrets.com/
http://www.freebyte.com/antivirus/

5. Internet Problems
Web site stalls - click the "Reload" button or click link again.
The loading has slowed down - use the first 3 free tools in 4. above and also scan for viruses and Malware or at least try this: Sometimes it is because too much has been saved in the browser's cache files. To cure this, open Tools/Internet Options/General and click Delete cookies & Delete files.
A 404 error message on the screen - see http://pcsupport.about.com/od/findbyerrormessage/a/404error.htm Use the "Cached" link to see an older version of the site OR go to the Internet Web Site Archive at http://www.archive.org/ See these sites for other problems and solutions: http://www.buzzle.com/articles/internet-connection-problems.html and http://support.microsoft.com/gp/pc_ie_intro and http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-vista/Troubleshoot-network-connection-problems and troubleshooting the Internet connection is at http://www.pcpitstop.com/internet/default.asp

6. Internal Hardware Problems
Noise coming from inside the computer might be a noisy fan. If it's a case cooling fan it will be easy to buy a replacement fan and replace it. A CPU cooling fan will be harder to find and replace. If the CPU fan is noisy or stuck and you can't get a replacement, sometimes a few drops of WD-40 on the bearings will at least give be temporary help. If the power supply fan is bad, you might have to replace the whole power supply. Don't use the computer until you replace the fan. See http://www.acmehowto.com/howto/pc/hardware/fan/replace.php
If your hard drive starts making noise, try unmounting it and flip it over and remount it. It possibly is at least 5 years old and it's time to replace it. The neatest way to do this if you have a tower or desktop PC is to add another hard drive in your computer or have an external USB hard drive connected to the tower or desktop or laptop PC. Use the imaging backup method in 9. below to load everything on to the new hard drive internally or externally. You must be able to "boot" up to the external or internal hard drive using the "Bios" or a "reboot" disk. Study the methods used by the Imaging Program you will use. Research the maximum "size" hard drive that your motherboard can support. Replace the old hard drive. Boot up to the image backup hard drive and transfer the image to your new internal hard drive. Reboot to the new hard drive.
See this site for many repairs: http://www.diy-computer-repair.com/

7. Computer Problems
Computer locks up (stalls)
You could have virus or Malware in your computer. Reboot and rapidly press F8 to gain access to the "Safe Mode" and then use your security software to scan for viruses or Malware. See my Computer Internet Security class and Website at http://www.encinojon.com/comintsec/

If you have big problems and the above doesn't work, try a keyboard soft reboot by holding down Ctrl +Alt and press Delete twice or the reboot button on the front of computer or unplug the computer.
Also try turning off your computer, wait 5 minutes before turning it back on.
Reboot at least 6 times.
If a laptop can not be shut down or rebooted you can release the battery 1 inch and push it back into place.
See these help sites:http://pcsupport.about.com/od/computerservice/qt/fix-computer-yourself-first.htm and http://pcsupport.about.com/od/findtheproblem/tp/common-pc-problems.htm and for advanced persons http://www.diy-computer-repairs.com/diagnostics/
Best computer troubleshooting sites http://www.techsupportalert.com/best_troubleshooting_sites.htm>

8. Help Websites
http://pcsupport.about.com/?once=true∓mp;
http://www.helpwithwindows.com/
http://annoyances.org
http://www.pcmech.com/

9. Internal Hardware Repairs
See "Replacing PC Parts" at: http://www.fonerbooks.com/replace.htm
See these self-help desktop or tower repair sites: http://www.technibble.com/7-sites-with-laptop-teardown-guides-repair-resource/
and an advanced site http://www.fonerbooks.com/pcrepair.htm


If you have to reformat or replace your hard drive you must have a complete image or "backup" of EVERYTHING in your computer or you will a BIG job reinstalling Windows and reconstructing your old computer software and setup.

I suggest that you do all the work below BEFORE you need it because you might not be able to do it when there are BIG computer problems or a crash!

The best way to backup your computer files or computer hard drive is to do hard drive imaging. If you do the HARD DRIVE IMAGING you will enjoying the full use of your computer again within about 1 hour after a computer crash, virus infection or other major computer failure. See http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2259168,00.asp

Hard Drive Imaging does not completely take the place of backing up your drive. You will have to do incremental backups of the image with or without a schedule using one of the image making or backup programs.

You can place the hard drive image on another internal or external hard drive and in a new partition.

Obtain the best HARD DRIVE IMAGING freeware at:
http://www.techsupportalert.com/best-free-drive-imaging-program.htm

XXCLONE is a simple hard drive imaging freeware obtained at: http://www.xxclone.com/ A "How to..." is: HERE
The freeware version of XXCLONE does not do incremental backups. XXCLONE will make only a floppy booting disk. Use XXCLONE for placing an image on only an internal hard drive.

The more complex free Paragon Backup and Recovery 2010 software is obtained here: http://www.paragon-software.com/home/db-express/

When you need to replace or remove the operating system or hard drive or fully reformat the hard drive:
Make an inventory of what is on your present hard drive such as:
a. Fonts
b. Programs installed
c. Peripheral equipment

Locate all your disks for the programs, motherboard, drives and other peripheral equipment such as printers and scanners.
Replace lost drivers using the Web site at: http://www.driverworld.dk/
Driver problems and solutions are at: http://www.driverforum.com/

Save copies of:
All setups/configurations for programs
Bios
Bookmarks/Favorites
Browser setup entries
Data files
Document files
Email addresses (Address Book)
Email Inbox and Sent
ISP settings
FTP setup entries
Fonts
Graphics and photos
Passwords

Copy items to be saved to another mass storage device
Burn a CD or DVD or use a flash drive, external USB hard drive or extra internal hard drive.

10. Improve Computer Performance, Efficiency and Disk Management
Removing unwanted programs from the Start Menu.
When you remove the programs from the Start Menu, you are not removing them from your computer. You are only removing the startup of the programs when you turn on your computer.
To remove a program: Click Start, All Programs, locate program, Right-click program, Click Delete, box appears, Click Yes.

Removing obsolete or unwanted programs
Click start, Click Control Panel, Control Panel appears, Click Add/Remove Programs, review programs, Click one program at a time to remove, Click Add/Remove.
After uninstall the program(s), clean out leftover files using the free programs in 5. below.

Check amount of C: (Hard Drive) disc used and unused or free space.
Click Start, Click My Computer, Click the drive you want to check, menu appears, Click Properties, Properties dialogue box appears showing the % of used and free space, click OK to close. If the free space is less than 50%, your computer might be slower than average. Clean out unwanted "Things" and recheck. Store rarely used things elsewhere. See 7. below.

Delete selected files from Recycle Bin
Double-click the Recycle Bin on the Desktop, Roll to and click on Open, select files to delete, click on File and roll to Delete, release button, click Yes in Confirm Delete Box.

Empty Recycle Bin
Double-click the Recycle Bin on the desktop, Click on File and roll to Empty Recycle Bin, click Yes on Confirm Delete Box.

Recycle Bin Properties settings.
Right-click Recycle Bin on the Desktop, menu appears, Click Properties, Recycle Bin Properties box appears, Click, hold on the slider and drag to 1%, Click "Use one setting for all drives:", Click OK to close.

Removing CHK, COOKIES, TMP and other files.
Click Start and roll to "Search", Search Results appears, Click type of file, enter *.chk, cookies.* and at least 2 day old tmp.* in "All or part of the file name", Click Search, specify drive, mark file(s) to be removed and delete files.

Do not use a Screen Saver - they sometimes cause big problems.
A Screen Saver is a moving picture or pattern on the monitor screen that protects the monitor tube (CRT) or LCD.
To remove the Screen Saver: Right Click on a blank area of your Desktop, Click Screen Saver, choose "(None)" for Screen Saver and Click "OK".

Running ScanDisc.
Close all possible open programs by holding down Ctrl + Alt and pressing the Delete key once, choose the program and click End Task. Repeat the operation to close all unnecessary programs.
Follow the instructions at http://help.isu.edu/index.php?action=faq∓catid=31∓docid=668

Defragmentation of your hard drive
Use the free great program at http://www.auslogics.com/disk-defrag/index.php after using the free programs in 4. above.

11. Computer Books
I suggest that you have a book of "tricks" for your version of Windows. I suggest you obtain a "Visually" book such as "Master Windows (2000, XP, Vista or 7) Visually". The XP book is 672 pages and costs $4.83 new or $1.00 used plus $3.99 shipping from one of Amazon.com "stores".
The book "How Computers Work" (9th Edition) by Ron White and Timothy Downs costs $23.09 new or $18.50 used plus $3.99 shipping from one of Amazon.com "stores".
The book "Upgrading and Repairing PCs (19th Edition)" by Scott Mueller costs $27.48 new or $21.00 used plus $3.99 shipping from one of Amazon.com "stores".
Amazon.com is at http://www.amazon.com/

12. Disposing of your old computer
E-waste (electronic waste) must be disposed of in a proper manner by sending it to an e-waste recycling facility. If you are disposing of your hard drive, you should destroy it to prevent access to your personal data and identity theft. You can use a hammer to break the circuit board and disks inside. Wear protective glasses. You may also use special hard drive wiping software to delete everything. See THIS WEBSITE. See http://www.killdisk.com/ for another freeware hard drive wiping program.

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