In order to effectively learn to learn how to troubleshoot computer hardware issues, you must first possess the art of knowing how to use process of elimination to diagnose and determine the issue. This is basically determining the state of the issue, and how to figure out how to break that down to determine the hardware failure.
In todays tech World, most all computers come with a tool embedded into the computer that runs diagnostics to determine hardware failures, which is a great tool for intermittent issues with your hardware, but once hardware fails, there is typically no getting to a tool to assist you. We are going to focus on the basics of hardware troubleshooting in this section.
Is it plugged in? Is it Turned on?
Lets face it folks, we have all done it, and probably more then once. You sit down at your desk or on the couch wanting to watc your favorite video, or browse social media sites and nothing. The screen is black and panic sets in.
Before we even think, our first reaction is "oh now what?" Its human nature to assume the worst before thinking isnt it? SO first things first, is it turned on? You reach over to turn the computer on and still nothing. By this point you are boiling.
But before you start to panic to much from a black screen after mashing the power button 10 times, , the next step is always a must check no matter how confident you are that it was pluuged in the last time you wre on it.
As far as a desktop, its less likely to become unplugged, however, if you have kids, animals, or even technology ghosts in your house, there is a chance that it is unplugged. Check both ends of the plug, and make sure that they are securely inserted. If you plug into a power strip or battery backup, check to make sure that it is on as well.
With a laptop, the most common source is the plugs from the power supply itself on your power cable (The black Brick) or the power connector to your laptop. Sometimes they get disconnected, and sometimes they just are not seated completely.
With those steps being ruled out, if the problem persists, then the next step in the process of elimination process to to check your outlook for power. Try plugging it into another power outlet, or if its plugged into a power strip or battery backup, plug it in directly to the wall. These steps will help determine if your problem is electrical.
For the sake of not being an electrician, if its electrical, and yo have checked your breaker box, I would suggest contacting an electrician for further assistance.
Still no power? Well then lets move on.
Power & Cables
If the problem is not electrical, and it is securely plugged in whether we are talking about a desktop or a laptop. The next step is to assure that the power cables are functioning correctly. This is a step that gets us into the true aspects of process of elimination.
On a desktop, before moving on, assure that the power switch on the power supply is in the on position. As you can see on the illustration to the left, there is a power switch. Make sure that it is on before moving on.
Its a natural fact, cables just like anything else go bad. Even a power supply for a laptop goes bad. The good thing with a laptop is, if the computer still comes on with a charged battery, but not with the power supply over time, the issue is probably a faulty power supply.
A desktop computer power cable is the same cable standard for most all computers with the exception of newer model all in ones that may be different. The key here is, we all know that buying a new cable or finding a friend with an extra one lying around is a way cheaper alternative to just saying to heck with it and buying a new power supply, or even a new computer.
So start small, and work your way up.Same goes with a laptop, the power supply is way cheaper then buying a new laptop. However, If the problem persists after the power supply cable on a laptop, and you are getting absolutely no power, unfortunately the issue is probably in the advanced category as it may be a bigger issue..
With a desktop, we move on to the next step.
The power supply in a desktop computer is one of the number one components to go south. If you have followed all of the steps above and still no power to your desktop, the issue is most likely your power supply, but lets check to see.
When a power supply is being powered, there will be a light inside of it that be illuminated. If you dont see that light, or the fan does not spin even for a second when you plug it in, then most likely you have a faulty power supply.
But do you see in the illustration to the left the little red switch? This is the power voltage switch. A last resort fix is to make sure that one of your friends didnt make you a vitim of their prank, and turn this switch to 220, as it should be on 110 right?
If all of these steps have been performed up to this point, and still nothing, then its time to get your power supply replaced. Again, this is the cheapest resolution up to this point, and although the issue could be more serious, a $50-100 power supply is cheaper then a new computer.
Believe it or not, replacing a power supply in a desktop is a fairly easy task, but it is also what i consider an advanced task and its not for everyone. If you have some general break fix electronic skills, you cn find many youtube vidoes on how to perform the job. Just take pictures of the old hooked up first so that you dont miss plugging in anything. Otherwise, call in a pro to get you going again.
We all dread that day when you turn on your computer, and you get nothing but a blinking curser or it is stuck on the splash screen (Usually the Manufacturers logo Dell, HP, Etc) This issue can be caused by many things, but we are going to go over the hardware side of it in this section.
Because hardware issues in a no boot scenario can be very difficult to diagnose, I am going to go straight into the best process of elimination steps to start with, because having that understanding is key to diagnosing a hardware no boot issue.
Splash Screen Freeze
The first indication that a no boot situation is a hardware issue is when the computer turns on and it gets stuck on the "Splash Screen" The splash screen is more then just a pop up of the Manufacturers logo, it is actually a preboot process called Power on Self Test or "Post" for short.
The Post process has the job of checking to assure that all components in the computer are working properly. If a component is having issues, you will either get a notification of what the issue is, or it will just stick on this screen for an eternity.
This is a sure indication that something is going on with a piece of hardware, and the first thing you should do in this case is try to determine what is causing your computer to hang.
Start by unhooking everything from your computer but the bare minimum needed to run (This means disconnecting printers, External Hard Drives, external speakers, or anything hooked to a USB drive with the exception of a keyboard and mouse) The computer requires a keyboard, Mouse and monitor to function.
If after a reboot the problem persists, you have eliminated the possibility of your peripherals (Printers, Speakers, Etc) being the issue. Most likely at this point, the issue is most likely an internal component in your computer.
One last test you can try before beginning the process of determining which defective component is causing your no boot situation is to assure that the issue is not related to a component driver. A driver is a software that runs each component.
Without getting to far into the driver details, I will just say that when you go out and buy a new printer, and you install it on your computer, it comes with the user software for managing the printer, as well as the driver software for communication. The driver is basically the mediator between the computer and the printer.
So at this point in the process of elimination process, we have determined that the issue is either a physical piece of hardware, or it may be a driver. While there can be much more too it, the next best step is to try to boot into "Safe Mode" and see if your computer boots up normally.
All Windows Operating Systems have a mode that you can login too called "Safe Mode" When booting up into safe mode, you are only booting up using the required components, and software needed to run the computer at its most basic level.
Safe mode is a great tool for diagnosing issues as well. A great rule of thumb is, if your computer boots up and runs stable in safe mode, but not in normal mode, then the issue is related to software or drivers and not hardware components.
While in safe mode, unless you specifically choose to boot in "Safe Mode with Networking" you will not have internet access. So SAfe Mode With Networking is required if you are troubleshooting an issue that requires you to have internet access. SAfe Mode with Command prompt is an advanced level mode that we will cover in a later lesson.
The typical process to access safe mode in most Operating Systems is to restart the computer, and at the manufacturers "Splash Screen" begin frantically pushing the F8 key and by frantically, I mean continuously push the f8 key as fast as you can possibly push it.
If you see the Windows Spalsh Screen then it didnt work and you have to restart the computer and try again. With the newer Operating Systems they require you to enable the feature if it has been disabled or never used. It also may be a bit of a different process then that of Windows 7,
Doing a quick Google search for "How to enable Safe Mode in Windows 10" or "How to boot into safe mode Windows 10" for instance will get you the results you need to accomplish that task.
I would suggest making sure that its enabled now, so that it wont be a hassle to reboot into safe mode in the future when you really need it. Safe Mode is a great tool for not only troubleshooting hardware and software issues, but it can also be used for virus or malware removal as well.
Have you ever booted up your computer and seen the The infampus blinking curser? All you see is a black screen with a blinking curser at the top let of the screen. This means that the computer either could not locate your hard drive, or it did not boot up Windows correctly.
Booting into Safe mode is the quick way to determine if this is a hard drive issue or a driver issue. Believe it or not, a lot of issues can be resolved by simply booting your computer into safe mode, because if it boots into safe mode, chances are your computer is not experiencing hardware issues and it will resolve itself.
Hardware issue can go beyond the scope of this lesson, and this is just a basics guideline to get you on your way to finding the root cause of your issue. While hardware issues can be difficult to troubleshoot, this lesson was designed to help determine if your issue is hardware related, or software related. Look for more advanced troubleshooting guides coming soon.