14 Aug

A Guide to Isolating PC Problems

We’ve all been there. Your computer is just not working the way it is supposed to. Files are not opening. The internet or network is slow. Applications are crashing. Why me!! Why today!! Before you throw the computer out the window or frantically ring your IT Support people, ask yourself the following:


Is this the first time the problem has happened?

Does the problem happen regularly?

Does the problem happen with only one application?

Does the problem happen at a particular time of day?

Can I duplicate or demonstrate the problem?

Have I rebooted and does the problem remain?

Do other people have the same problem?

Has anything changed recently that might be causing the problem?

Are there any error messages?


Once you’ve gone through all of these questions without a satisfactory solution, raise it with your IT Support people.


When raising the issue with IT, be specific. Suggesting that the PC doesn’t work or is slow, does not provide enough information for your IT guru to help you. Use the answers to the above questions to phrase your problem. This will give your support person the best chance to solve your issue quickly.

Make a note of things that do not seem normal, even something that may not appear to be related. The more information you can provide, the quicker you’ll be back up and running.


A quick note about applications crashing and killing tasks.

When your computer is running, the RAM (memory, not to be confused with disk space) is loaded with information. This memory is broken into areas called address spaces. This is where your operating system lives and your applications run, among a host of other important processes. The total of these address spaces is the total amount of RAM you have, including free space which is yet to be used. If you haven’t rebooted your computer for a long period of time, these address spaces become fragmented and your computer’s performance will suffer. Rebooting might address an issue where the computer is running slowly. If an application crashes or you kill a task (Force Quit in OS X or Task Manager in Windows), you risk corrupting your computer’s memory. If a corruption occurs, other applications may crash or your computer could lock up, blue screen (Windows) or randomly reboot. Once you’ve experienced a program crashing or you’ve had to kill a task, you should keep in the back of your mind that, at some point, you should reboot your computer. This will clear your computer’s RAM and load everything fresh, ready for you to start with a clean slate and hopefully, avoid problems which may arise.


Happy computing!!



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