When your computers go on the blink, business suffers. Fortunately, most problems can be solved without having to haul your system in for service. Most computer woes – even those that appear to be hardware problems – are caused by operating system changes and conflicts or by something called malware (malicious software). Outdated software and good old operator error can also cause trouble.
When your computer acts up, your first level of defense is to run the following:
- Scan Disk system tool (checks your hard disk for errors and attempts to fix them).
- Disk Defragmenter system tool (reorganizes data on your hard drive so your computer will run more efficiently).
- Web-based virus and spyware scans (detects and eliminates problems).
- Troubleshooting software (undoes system crashes, user errors and more).
Identify viruses, spyware and adwareThese culprits can make your computer run slower than usual. If you don't have any security software, or if it fails to catch invaders, you can turn to several Web sites for help.
Remove viruses, spyware, adware and other malwareOnce you've ID'd a bug, get rid of it. Some leading anti-virus manufacturers provide free, Web-based scans, or you can purchase software to do the job.
Solve Windows problemsIf you've got a problem with Windows, good step-by-step advice is freely available.
Solve miscellaneous problemsSoftware, hardware and networking problems can bring your business day to a grinding halt. Get back up and running with free help from several sources on the Web or with security software.
Get helpIf you're unable to diagnose a problem or find a solution in a reasonable amount of time, it's better to seek expert assistance.
Control your startup itemsMost software applications, including programs installed with new hardware, dump unnecessary modules into your startup folder. These mini-applications are always running. At best, they hog resources. At worst, they cause system problems or conflicts.
- If your system is so corrupted or invaded that solutions to individual problems are impossible, you don't need to buy a new computer. From least to most invasive, take the following steps.
- Use your operating system's System Restore.
- Reinstall your operating system.
- Reformat your hard drive; then reinstall your system, software and data from a back-up source.
- Buy and install a new hard drive; then reinstall your system and software from the original discs, and copy data from the damaged hard drive or a back-up source.