Houston, We have a PC Problem – Step 5: Identify and Isolate the Problem

But first check the obvious…

More times than we would like to admit, computer problems are often caused by simple human error. This is good because then the problems then are very easy to solve.

  • Is the power on in the room? I know…just how dumb do I think I think people are…? Well, I heard this story from girl who was my classmate. Seems a guy complained to her IT dept. that his PC was dead when he came in from lunch.

    After pulling her hair for a few minutes, my classmate discovered that ALL the power to his office had been accidentally cut off by a building maintenance man. But since the office was always filled with natural light this guy never turned on any overhead lighting so he hadn’t noticed the room-wide power outage. Okay…enough said?

  • Is the computer plugged in? Check all the power plugs, surge protectors or power strips. Pull out each one and firmly reseat it. Check the wall outlets too.
  • Listen for the POST error beeps. If you hear something other than the normal 1 short beep (System OK) look up the error code.
  • It the monitor screen black? Check both ends of your monitor’s cables – the power cable from the monitor to the wall outlet and the data cable from the monitor to the PC. Reseat it one firmly. Screw down the data cable to the computer’s port only finger-tight.
  • Is the surge protector/power strip still on or good? These little guys are workhorses. You buy a surge protector once, plug in your devices, drop it behind your desk and never look at it again. If it a newer one check to make sure it’s “circuit breaker” light is on.

    Power off everything. Yes, everything…the computer, the printer, your DSL or broadband modem/router, the monitor, even the surge protector strip. Everything!

    Now starting from the wall turn on the surge protector, now your PC, the monitor, the modem/router, finally the printer.

    Sounds silly but I can’t tell you how many times as a computer technician, I have solved problems just by cycling the power on and off to all devices. I have seen it work with million dollar server “farms” (a collection of computer servers) to simple home PCs.

  • Remove any floppies, CD/DVD disks or any other removable drives (USB thumb drives or cameras or external drives). Sometimes computers can get caught in a software loop while looking for missing or corrupt files on removable disks or drives.