Computer hardware problems can be anything from very minor annoyances to total, full-blown grief. You might be able to live with the fact that the “F9” key on your keyboard sticks when you push it down, but if you’re trying to load something from a CD that you just slid into your CD drive, and Windows says you don’t have a CD drive, that’s a problem of a different magnitude.
What causes computer hardware problems?
Overall, computers are incredibly fast and reliable devices. The typical personal computer can perform from several million to several billion calculations in a second, day after day, year in and year out. They achieve all this speed and reliability with solid state technology. A solid state device uses the electrical properties of semiconductors and avoids using moving parts or relying on the electrical properties of a vacuum. Probably the best known solid state device is a transistor, although there are several others.
Although solid state technology is both fast and reliable, it can and does fail. Solid state devices are sensitive to excessive heat and voltage levels, and when a failure occurs in a solid state device it can many times be traced back to either an overheating or power surge event.
Computers, however, are not 100% solid state. There are moving parts involved; the most obvious example is the keyboard – although the mouse, hard drives and optical drives (both CD and DVD) are other prime examples. Anything with physically moving parts can wear out, get jammed, etc.
By far the computer component with the most moving parts, and therefore the most prone to failure, is the keyboard. Luckily they are also one of the easiest things to replace (unless it’s a laptop keyboard).
The second most common area for hardware problems is the hard drive. The hard drive is both packed with electronics and at the same time a mechanical device, so it can be damaged by either excessive heat or power surges, or it can just wear out. Fixing problems with a hard drive or replacing it can be tricky simply because the value of the hard drive lies in the data it holds – all your pictures, downloaded music, word processing documents, tax returns and whatever else you’ve stored on your computer through the years.
Hard drives / hard drive crash
You should be backing up your data regularly. Many people make the mistake of thinking about backing up their data after they have a hard drive problem, which could be too late because hard drives, as mentioned above, are the second most likely computer hardware component to fail after keyboards.
What can go wrong with a hard drive? Plenty. Probably the most common term associated with hard drive problems is “crash,” as in “hard drive crash.”
Inside your hard drive is a rapidly spinning platter coated with a thin layer of magnetic material. There are also magnetic read / write heads that skim along only a few thousandths of an inch above the surface of the platter whose job is to read the data off, and write the data onto, that layer of magnetic material. If one of those heads hits the surface hard for some reason, it can gouge the magnetic material rendering the data stored there inaccessible. This is a what is referred to as a hard drive crash.
Although many people refer to any severe problem with a hard drive as a crash, there are other things that can go wrong, for example:
- The drive’s electronics can be damaged so it can no longer interact with the rest of the computer
- The drive’s motor could be wearing out and not able to maintain the constant speed needed for data to be read off / written onto the drive
- Another device in the computer could be interfering with the drive’s ability to interact with the rest of the computer
No matter what the cause, hard drive problems can be very unnerving because they make you realize like nothing else how important your data is. If you experience any of the following symptoms you may have a problem with your hard drive:
- Your hard drive makes a clicking sound
- You are getting messages saying there are CRC (cyclic redundancy check) errors when you try to open a file or a program.
- You get a message saying “inaccessable boot device”
- If your computer can boot, the drive does not appear in “My Computer” in Windows
- You get a blue screen (also referred to as a blue screen of death, which is sometimes shortend to it’s initials, BSOD)
- Your computer won’t boot at all
We realize how important your data is to you. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above contact us today. Let us ask you a few questions to better understand your situation and we’ll provide you with a free estimate. We’ll work hard to recover as much of your data as possible and either get your drive up and running again or replace it if necessary.
Devices not working correctly or at all
One very frustrating computer problem is when you have some device that either doesn’t work correctly or doesn’t work at all. There are two categories of problems here: a new device that you can’t get to work in the first place and a device that used to work but has stopped for some reason.
If you have a new device that you can’t get to work usually your best course of action is to contact either the store you purchased it from or the manufacturer. Many times the issue is that your new gizmo will never work because it either isn’t supported on your current PC hardware or your current version of Windows. If that’s the case the only option is to find your receipt and return the item.
If, however, your new device is supported on your PC and your version of Windows, then things are no different than if you had a device that used to work but stopped. Here is a partial list of what might cause this:
- The device may actually be broken
- You may not have the correct driver, or the correct version of the driver
- You may need to put an update on Windows
- You may have put a different device into your PC which is causing a conflict with the device that isn’t working
- You may have installed a new piece of software, updated a driver, or installed a Windows update that is causing your device to not function properly
- A configuration setting may have been changed for some reason
Whether it’s a new device or something that has been installed in your computer for years, if it’s not working contact us today, we’ll diagnose the problem and let you know what needs to be done to get your entire system up and running the way you want it to.