The PC Zone

PC Doctor tips!

Here are some on my favorite PC troubleshooting and repair tips and tricks:

  1. Make a note of any error message that you get!
    I'm amazed how many people who, when faced with an error message telling them something, ignore it completely! Don't! That error message could be the last time that you can get into your system or boot it up so it's a vital clue to what could be the problem. Don't worry if you don't understand the error message - even if you don't someone else might and you can use it to do a search on the web or give it to a support technician.
  2. Keep a note of changes you make to your system.
    One of the most commonly asked questions by support technicians is "what changes have you made to your system recently?" Most people when confronted with this question do one of the following things:
    - Panic and worry that they will be to blame for the problem and lie
    - Forget about the changes they made and say that nothing was done
    Both are unhelpful and could turn a five minute problem into a much bigger deal. Log your changes and be honest!
  3. Keep a notebook and pencil by your system!
    You've probably noticed you need to log and write down stuff! Don't do it on the PC though. Why? Because if the system goes down, you lose access to your notes!
  4. Research!
    Before you add a new bit of kit or software, do a bit of research. The web is good for this but word of mouth is also good. Try to find unbiased sources (sales people and corporate websites might not be the best sources!)
  5. If you run into problems, don't panic!
    Be calm. if you have to, switch off and walk away and get a cup of coffee, tea or whatever and come back later. The nice thing about PC Doctoring is that you have time - the patient isn't going to bleed to death or anything. Never rush or be too hasty. This advice is doubly true for virus related problems where the actions of the user can cause more damage than the virus itself.
  6. Use the right tools for the right job.
    Make sure that your screwdrivers for the screws you are trying to undo. Nothing can bring a job to a halt quicker than chewing the head of a screw so that it can't be undone! Also, while you're at it, take care of your tools. Screwdrivers aren't prybars and delicate gear like multimeters should be put away after use.
  7. Keep any bits that you don't use (such as jumpers, screws, drive rails etc).
    You never know when you might need a spare!
  8. When upgrading hardware, if in doubt, make notes and label things!
    Many connectors in your system will only fit onto one socket, and, to make things even easier, only one way. However, there are some that can fit more than one place (hard drive data cables, cooling fans, etc). If you are in any doubt as to where something goes back, draw a sketch map or label things in your system. This will make things a LOT easier when it comes to putting everything back again!
  9. And finally ...
    when it's time to get rid of old PCs, components or peripherals, be kind to the planet and do your best to recycle! Ask your friends and family if they're any use to them. Check your local schools and community groups. Many charities will also take them off your hands. And if in the end they are still unwanted, please dispose of them responsibly!

Read more in chapter 5 of the book!

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
Last updated: Jul 24th 2004
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