Sometimes it seems that technology lets us down just when we are relying on it the most. Perhaps there is nothing uncanny about it though, it just seems to be that way, but there are few things more annoying than a computer error cropping up at a particularly inconvenient time. Rather than screaming at IT and banging the keyboard in frustration, check out these five most common causes of computer errors from Blue Chip will hopefully will provide a quick fix; if they don’t then you might need some help from the experts.
Unwanted software is a major cause of a host of computer errors. Generally the unwanted software is in the form of malware by which we mean computer viruses and worms, trojan horses, rootkits, spyware, adware and other forms of malevolent software.
Unwanted software gets installed on computers in a number of ways. It can appear in email attachments, especially zip and exe files; it can be downloaded without our knowledge when we visit certain websites; it can ride on the back of software that is or appears to be legitimate and which we decide to install; or it can arise as a specific attack on a vulnerability in the operating system or browser software installed on our computer.
The kinds of problems caused by unwanted software can range from a slowing down of the computer’s performance right through to a complete computer crash and loss of valuable data. Your security can also be compromised as some malware aims to collect and transmit your personal information.
If you suspect that you have unwanted software on your computer, then scan it with antivirus and anti-malware programmes then install antivirus software and a firewall.
Laptop computers have a small fan that keeps the electronic components cool; or at least below the critical temperature at which they could be damaged. In rare circumstances the fan will fail causing the computer to overheat and when it does there is a safety mechanism that switches off the computer instantly. The fan draws cooling air through an air inlet which is supplied with an air filter. Sometimes the air intake and/or filter can become clogged with dust and debris or the air intake might be blocked by a physical object, for instance a cushion. This can have the same effect as a failed fan; the computer overheats and switches off. When this happens it is very likely that you will lose any unsaved data.
The solution is to replace the fan if it has failed and to ensure that the air intake and filter are clear. If you suspect that your computer is overheating you can install software that monitors the internal temperature and fan speed.
Note that desktop computers can also overheat with similar results.
Sometimes computers can run out of internal memory or RAM, especially when running certain memory intensive applications. This can have many different effects. The application might simply freeze or shut down with an error message; the computer might slow down to an almost standstill, the computer might shut down or automatically reboot, or it might simply freeze. Sometimes the situation can be recovered by shutting down applications, but often this is impossible to do it the usual way and it is necessary to use the task manager which is accessed using the Ctrl, Alt and Del buttons.
Shutting down applications doesn’t always work due to memory leak effects and it is necessary to reboot the computer after saving any data that you are able to save.
The long term solution is to increase the amount of RAM in your computer.
Failure to update operating system and applications
It can be quite tedious to install system updates, especially when you see that you might have upwards of 30 Windows Updates in the queue, but failing to do so can lead to a huge range of potential problems ranging from security vulnerabilities through to applications failing to load and run. Failure to update antivirus software and databases can also leave computers vulnerable to the kinds of problems we described above. If you tend to keep your computer running 24/7 then it pays to reboot is occasionally and ensure that the systems are up to date.
Peripherals need a power cycle
Sometimes electronics devices seem to have a mind of their own and they can be fixed by putting them through a power cycle; in other words switching them off, waiting a few moments, and switching them on again. If your internet stops working, try power cycling your router; if you can’t print any documents then try power cycling your printer, and sometimes the best way to fix your computer is to power cycle that too.