How to troubleshoot common hardware problems?


What is the first thing you do when your computer starts turning off by itself or displaying blue screen errors, errors related to RAM, hard disk space or an overheating CPU?

You would probably go online and look for answers. But how do you know if the problem is not with your Internet connection or your device drivers?

The best way to solve any computer hardware problems is to start at square one; that means you should only use the bare essentials (a minimal boot) before trying anything else.

Here are some things you can try:

Verify that all cables are secure in their sockets

Check the motherboard manual before inserting any new boards or expansion cards, because sometimes they require power connections. You can also check out this [link to your favorite motherboard manufacturer].

Check the connection of hard drive power and data cables. Before removing any cable, mark on the cable where it should be connected. This way you’ll reconnect them more easily when troubleshooting is finished.

After checking all connections on the power supply (with a voltmeter if necessary), remove everything from your computer case and vacuum out all dust, pet hair and other debris. Then replace every component one at a time until you find the faulty part or part which fails to boot correctly.

Check for viruses and malware

Viruses and malware can cause various problems with your computer hardware such as: reducing processing speed, locking up the BIOS setup menu, screwing up disk access – among others.

You can usually use a free anti-virus program to remove malware from your computer. If you’re running an operating system that has a built-in anti-virus scanner, it will probably be enough since most virus-type programs are focused on the Microsoft Windows platform. You can also run your anti-virus program at regular intervals or set up automatic scans so you don’t have to worry about viruses and malware damaging hardware components.

Check disk usage

If there is too much data being written onto your hard drive, this will slow down its access speed making your computer slower – especially when repeatedly reading or writing files. To check how much space is left on your primary hard drive, click Start > Computer and your C:\ drive will show up. In the bar on the left, click once on Local Disk (C:) and then look at how much space is being used. On my computer, for example, I have about 10 GB free space or about 1/3 of my total hard drive capacity.

Check CPU heat

If you’re experiencing a significant slowdown it could be because your CPU is overheating so check to see what speed it’s running at by opening the Task Manager. The easiest way to do this is to press Ctrl + Alt + Delete and then choose Task Manager from the options as shown in Figure 2. Once you’ve done this, look towards the bottom right of the window and you’ll see a graph that shows the speed of your CPU. If it’s speeding up and slowing down then this is a clear sign that you have a problem as shown in Figure 1.

Check RAM

If you don’t have at least 2 GB of RAM, upgrading to a minimum of 2 should help to give you a performance boost. The easiest way to do this is to check how much RAM your PC has first by going into Start > Control Panel > System and Security. Once there, look under the ‘System’ heading on the left-hand side for a section called ‘Device Manager’ as shown in Figure 3. In this section, look under ‘Memory’. In most cases, if your PC says that has any less than 2 GB of RAM, then it’s time to upgrade. Or simply use a tool like CPU-ID.



To check your hard drive, go to Start > Computer. Right-click on the drive you want to check and select Properties. Look for the amount of free space remaining as shown in Figure 4. If this has less than about 15% left, it may be worth backing up what is there before trying any other repairs. For example, if your C: Drive only has 25 GB free out of a total of 200 GB, it’s best to back up all your files first before you start deleting them if you run into problems again with the computer. You can do this with an external hard drive or even DVDs/CDs depending on how many files are too large to fit onto one disk. Then, restart your computer and see if the blue screen appears again. If it does, then there may be more serious problems with your hardware.

Fix registry issues

The registry is one of the most useful tools to have at your disposal in Windows. It is essentially a database containing all important system settings so that they can be quickly accessed by the operating system whenever necessary. The problem is that when you mess with certain registry keys, it becomes corrupted or just plain broken which prevents the OS from loading properly. Another option would be using System Restore – it’s not uncommon to see many Windows users resorting to this method since it is usually without any problems. This tool creates a backup of your entire system and allows you to easily roll back in case something is wrong or a program isn’t working. Rollback is only possible when the System Restore point has been created, so you must set one up recently – although this also means that all your files will be restored from the date when the tool was run, which can lead to some undesired results if you were performing a complex task with lots of documents open at the time.

The best solution would be using an application called Shadow Copy for Windows. It is capable of restoring previous versions of files that you already had saved on disk with a single click. This way you don’t have to worry about losing data a crash because Microsoft tools are not working properly.

Update drivers

All the drivers have been updated and the computer still refuses to boot? The problem has to do with boot records – a tool that tells your system how to load the necessary drivers in order to access all of your data on time. If this record is corrupted or missing, you will not be able to boot up the machine correctly. In this case, use a third-party software called Boot It Next Generation. These tools will help you fix disk partitions and also recover lost ones by using an image-based approach for scanning disks.

Fix boot records

At first glance it may seem like a hard job; however, we are going to show you a step-by-step way to use EasyRE for fixing boot records.

1. Insert the installation CD into your computer and restart it.

2. Press any key when prompted at the “Press any Key to Boot from CD” screen, then select Repair your Computer from the list of options that will appear on the screen after a few seconds:

3. On the next page choose an option – usually, if you have Windows 8 or 10, you would want to go with Troubleshoot, but since we are going to try and fix our startup record, we will select Advanced Options :

4. In this new window, click Automatic Repair :

5. Check whether Fixboot exists in one of these listed methods, or not. If it exists, go with option 1 to restore the boot record, if not choose option 3 to attempt making a new one:

1. Restart your computer and press F8 right after the BIOS screen disappears (before Windows starts loading)

2. Choose to Repair Your Computer in Troubleshoot menu that appears on screen after a few seconds of loading

3. Select Command Prompt from Advanced Options window that will appear next

5. At command prompt type bcdboot c:\Windows /s c: where C is the drive letter for your main partition, e.g., C:\Windows instead of just C:\ (the latter won’t work). Press Enter. Then enter, press Enter twice more to make sure the system returns to the previous menu

7. Type exit and press Enter to reboot your computer, then you should be able to boot into Windows again

If everything above fails, try installing a new copy of Windows. You’ll most likely lose all software installed, but it’s better than having no PC at all. If you’re not comfortable with that idea, get a desktop pc repair expert who will be able to replace the broken hardware part for you.

Fix black or blue screen issues

If your computer is trying to boot up but getting stuck on a black or blue screen without loading any files (or displaying error messages), follow the steps above starting from option 3 . If it still doesn’t work, perform Option 2  to attempt making a new one:

1. Boot into BIOS  by pressing  Del or F2 on your keyboard immediately after turning it on

If you are able to boot up in Windows, but everything above the taskbar is cut off, try changing the screen resolution instead. Some manufacturers do this deliberately to make their computers look different from others’, so if you are getting the same problem with another computer of yours, try resetting the screen resolution back to normal using ” Screen Resolution “, found under Control Panel , Appearance and Personalization.

If none of these suggestions work for you, check out Solution 4 below.

3. If your laptop puts itself automatically into standby mode even when plugged in, unplug all external devices except for your mouse and keyboard (including your phone/tablet charger), and if the problem persists, try resetting your computer’s power settings.

4. If none of these suggestions work for you, it might be time to contact your manufacturer for a replacement.

5. Also don’t forget to keep all the drivers updated for optimal performance! Using outdated drivers can cause problems such as those stated in this article, so make sure that after every update, go to Device Manager and check if all devices are working properly under ” View > Show hidden devices “.

If the solution still doesn’t work, there is definitely something wrong with your hardware and we would recommend taking it to a technician who will be able to diagnose the problem and provide support much better than we ever could online!

Other issues

If you are experiencing problems with the sound of your computer, there could be multiple causes. Firstly check that all your speakers/headphones are plugged into the correct place i.e. the headphone jack on the front of the computer is for headphones and not speakers etc., or vice versa! Unplugging them and plugging them back in again may fix this easily.

If this doesn’t work, try playing some music through both devices at once, now observe which one has better audio output quality. If it’s not both equally good then something is wrong with either your connection somewhere or one of your hardware components. Disabled devices can have a negative effect so un-mute and un-check any disabled devices from Device Manager > Sound, Video and Game Controllers (if you can’t find this option in your version of Windows click my computer > Manage (on windows 8.1) > Device Manager > Sound, video and game controllers or run devmgmt.msc).

If it is still not good quality then the most common cause of these problems is a faulty sound card.

If it is still too quiet after trying all of my tips above, try increasing the volume using the dial on the front or side of the device instead of the usual shortcuts such as [windows] + [up arrow] or [ctrl] + [alt] + [down arrow]. This might be easier than adjusting it in software because Windows does sometimes disable certain playback settings when you adjust your volume using the Windows shortcuts.

I am a computer engineer holding a bachelor's degree in Computer Science, complemented by a Master's in Business Administration from University of Strathclyde, Scotland. I currently work as a Senior IT Consultant in Melbourne, Australia. With over 15 years of...