I often get asked what is the primary tool I use for computer repair. When I tell people the tool I use the most is “logic” they stare and me as if expecting me to follow-up with a punchline because that isn’t what they were expecting to hear. But it’s true. Applying logic to what you already know about each computer component can quickly help you narrow down the source of the problem. I will quickly outline the thought process you should run through when faced with new computer repair job. Following this process should help you resolve the issue in a timely matter so you can move on tot he next task.
- Is the problem hardware or software? Hardware problems are generally pretty easy to diagnose. For instance, if the computer will not boot or starts up and quickly shuts down, there is probably an issue with the power supply or motherboard. It could be a misconfiguration in the BIOS that is triggering a shutdown based on temperature settings, but it clearly isn’t a problem with Windows. The problem can also be system crashes, which could be caused by faulty RAM or a dying hard drive. So you should be able to quickly run scans on the RAM (using memtest86) or the hard drive (using chkdsk) to determine hardware problems. If the hardware checks out, you can be looking at a Windows problem.
- Start in Safe Mode. What does this tell us? If you tap F8 at start-up and can get into Safe Mode, the problem is probably with a driver, a misconfiguration in Windows, or even a virus. The hardware is probably fine.
- The bare essentials.One of the first things you should do when faced with a strange computer problem is remove any non-essential computer component. This includes all external devices like printers, scanner, thumbdrive, etc. You can also remove internal cards like Network Interface Cards (NICs), sound cards, modems, USB and firewire cards, etc. You can even unplug the CD ROM drive, hard drive, and take out extra RAM. If the system is dead, it could be any one of these things that are causing the problem.
Of course, this is a very broad example of applying logic to computer repair. Every PC job is different. But by taking a step back and thinking before acting, you can save yourself a lot of time and expense. Whether you are repairing your own computer, or if you’re a technician fixing someone else’s PC, you want to finish as quickly as possible. As a novice computer repair person it helps you gain confidence. As a technician, it makes you look professional and can help bring you more work and improved reputation.