Dave’s Computer Repair Blog – How to tell whether a computer issue is hardware or software part 1.
This is part 1 of a three part series on computer troubleshooting. We are going to tackle how to whether a computer issue is hardware or software. Part 2 will be published in a few days’ time and part 3 a few days after that. Look out for it on Dave’s Computers!
Computers are complex machines and any number of things can go wrong with them. As reliable as they may be for the majority of the time, there will always be exceptions. But if something is going wrong with your computer, how do you know whether the problem is with hardware or software?
Sometimes it’s easy. If the computer won’t even start, chances are it’s the power supply or processor. If the computer makes lots of beeping noises before is shuts down it could be overheating or suffering a memory error. If the computer starts but nothing appears on screen, it could be your graphics processor.
More often, the answer is actually quite difficult to pin down. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to tell whether a computer issue is hardware or software. Here are some of the steps the computer repair technicians at Dave’s Computers would take to find out.
Check the symptoms – Is the computer slow? Will it boot? Does it blue screen? Make funny noises? Not start at all? The very first step in troubleshooting a computer is to find out exactly what is going on. It can often tell us precisely where and what the issue is. If you’re not in a position to tell us, we would test to find out ourselves.
Isolate any recent changes – We would also ask you if you have made any recent changes to your computer before the problem started. Have you added hardware? Updated drivers? Made any other changes? This can often tell us immediately what the problem could be. We would then reverse or undo those changes to see if it fixes the problem. Nine times out of ten it does.
Boot into Safe Mode – We would boot Windows into Safe Mode to see if we can replicate or avoid the symptoms you describe. If the computer works fine in Safe Mode it means it’s a software issue and we have a repertoire of tools and techniques to overcome that. If the symptoms persist, it could be core Windows files or hardware.
From within Safe Mode we would perform file checks and repairs to see if we can fix the issue from within Windows. If the issue looks to be hardware, we would check that too by swapping out components with our own working spares to see if the symptoms persist or not.
Join us in a couple days for part 2 of How to tell whether a computer issue is hardware or software!