10 Hardware Troubleshooting Tips

Looking for 10 hardware troubleshooting tips? Computers are real assets when they are working, but when things go wrong it’s good to have a list of some PC hardware troubleshooting tips. When problems arise, they can often be solved easily by the computer user.

To troubleshoot your hardware, you will need:

  • A cotton swab
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • A small paintbrush
  • A can of compressed air
  1. Troubleshoot a cursor that jumps erratically around on the screen when the mouse is touched by cleaning the mouse. This hardware problem often occurs for computer users who have a mouse with a ball (not a wireless mouse). Turn the mouse upside down. Give a half-turn to the cover over the ball to remove the cover. Remove the ball. Dip a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol and scrub the axles inside the mouse to remove dirt. Allow it to dry. Brush the ball off with a small paintbrush, place it back into the mouse and replace the cover.
  2. Rule out the electrical power. Troubleshooting a "dead" computer can be diagnosed by something as simple as a bad wall outlet, a blown circuit breaker, a light switch that controls the outlet being accidentally turned off or the computer’s power cord becoming loosened in the outlet or at the back of the computer.
  3. Check and re-seat all hardware connections to the PC. Consider the computer case itself as a hub to which external devices are connected. Unplug and plug back in all cables that plug into the computer: the keyboard, mouse, printer, internet connection, speakers and so on. Sometimes cables can work loose or dust and oxide can build up on electrical connections.
  4. Clean floppy, CD and DVD drives to troubleshoot reading and writing media errors. Floppy drives can be cleaned with kits that come with a floppy-like disk that contains a stiff cleaning disc and a small bottle of alcohol. CD/DVD cleaners are CD discs that have fine brushes attached to them to clean debris from the laser lens.
  5. Troubleshoot a PC hardware problem where the computer works fine when you first turn it on, but shortly thereafter it either shuts down or programs begin working erratically. This is caused by a thick accumulation of dust building up on the microprocessor. Microprocessors generate a lot of heat and must have ventilation. Disconnect the power cord from the wall outlet before opening the case. Remove the case cover and carefully blow out the dust on the microprocessor’s fan and heat sink with a can of compressed air, available at office supply and electronics stores. For stubborn, caked-on dust, use a paint brush to gently remove it.
  6. Properly remove flash drives to prevent corrupt files. USB flash drives can easily be inserted and pulled out of a PC, but they should never be pulled out without first clicking on the "remove flash drive" icon on the task bar. This icon appears as a green arrow and a flash drive. Click on this icon and a menu will appear of all the USB devices and their drive letter designation that are currently connected. Click on the device you want to remove.
  7. Swap out hardware components to troubleshoot defective peripherals. Try another keyboard, mouse, printer, monitor or set of speakers to see if that cures the problem.
  8. Locate an external hard drive in a place where it will not accidentally be knocked over. Many models look like a book standing up, which makes them easy to tip over. If they fall over while they are running it can destroy the drive, as the heads can hit the spinning platter (a "head crash").
  9. Check the brightness and contrast controls on your monitor when troubleshooting a dark or black screen. Cleaning or dusting a monitor or around it can result in accidentally bumping any controls on the monitor.
  10. Change out RAM memory cards, which can cause a host of unusual problems, such as software that does not run correctly. This should be done only if you feel confident opening a PC’s case, grounding yourself, identifying the RAM, pulling back the clips that hold it in place and removing the cards. Swap out an identical card and see if that solves your problem.



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