Following solutions might help you rectify the problem of your computer / laptop seizing to function properly abruptly.

Undo Recent Changes

If your system stopped working all of a sudden, one of the first things to consider is what were you doing on the PC immediately prior to the fault manifesting itself. If you can identify something specific then very often simply ‘undoing’ it will eliminate the problem.

For example you may have been doing any of the following:

Downloading from the Internet
Installing a peripheral, i.e. a new scanner
Upgrading your PC with a new card, i.e. a graphics card.
Deleting a program
Installing a program
Running a program
Changing your PC’s settings
Shutting down your PC the wrong way
Maintenance

There are hundreds of thousands of known viruses, the vast majority of which are spread via the Internet and their effects can mimic literally any computer faults. So if your PC starts giving trouble after downloading from the Internet there is a very good chance that it has picked up a virus. If you suspect this to be the case than you must obtain an up-to-date virus program and check your system with it.

Installing new hardware is a common cause of problems and is usually due to the new hardware device taking the resources allocated to an existing hardware. This problem can usually be sorted out via Control panel, System, Device Manager. See the Resource Conflict Troubleshooter for more details.

There’s a lot of talk concerning the phenomenon of computer viruses, a lot of it scaremongering by parties with a vested interest.

The reality however, is that most people will run a PC all their lives without ever encountering one, Nevertheless, the risk is always there, particularly if you download from the Internet or use email. Some viruses are very obviously viruses but others can be very difficult to identify as such.

So, while it’s unlikely, never discount the possibility that your PC has become infected.

Be wary about installing freeware programs downloaded from the Internet. Theses can be badly written and ‘buggy’.

Often we install a program to try out and then having decided we don’t want it, delete it. With most programs there is no problem. However there are some which simply refuse to go quietly. The usual problem is that these programs use or ‘borrow’ files and then when they are deleted, take these files with them. Any other programs on the PC which need theses files will then not run correctly, if at all. The cure for this is to re-install the affected program.

There are occasions when simply running a particular program will cause problems. It will either have become corrupted or is incompatible with something else on the system. The result will usually be lockups and crashes. Deleting and then re-installing it will usually cure the fault.

Windows is a very customisable operating system and allows the user to make all manner of changes to its default settings. This also applies to much of the systems hardware. However there are parts of the system where changes can have adverse effects on the PC’s performance. Examples are the BIOS and the registry. The best policy when experimenting with settings, is to make a written note of any changes made. If there are any subsequent problems then you’ll be able to reverse them.

There is most definitely a right way and a wrong way to shut down or restart your computer. The right way is to select Start>restart or Start>Shutdown. You can also do a soft reboot by hitting Ctrl+Alt+Delete. The wrong way is to hit the reset button or power off button. This can corrupt any program that might be running, or worse, the hard drive itself. Usually though, the effects are minors and can be repaired by exiting in the proper manner and then running a disk utility such as Scandisk.

If, for any reason you have been delving inside the system case, it’s quite possible that you have inadvertently loosened or even disconnected something, a cable or expansion card for example. Try and retrace your steps, checking everything in the area in which you were working, making sure all boards and cables are firmly seated in their sockets.

If like most people you enjoy tinkering with your PC’s settings, try and restrict your ‘fiddling’ to the cosmetic side of things where you can’t do any harm. Otherwise be sure to make a note of any changes you make.

Many problems are caused by not exiting Windows correctly and can be corrected by rebooting and doing it the right way. Only use your reset button when your PC is frozen solid.

Read the Instructions

Another frequent cause of problems, particularly when installing a new hardware device, is failure to read the installation instructions. Some devices are very simple to install while others require a bit more attention. For example, it’s not uncommon for some devices or programs to be sold with known bugs leading to incompatibility with other hardware/software. There will usually be a file named ‘README’ on the installation disk detailing issues of this type and ways round them. Taking a few minutes to read the instructions can save hours of head scratching and frustration.

All you have to do is right-click on the appropriate disk drive in My Computer and then click Open. This will reveal the contents of the disk.

Some applications and hardware can have incompatibility problems with others devices on your PC. If this is the case you’ll need to find out what these are and how to sort them out. If you look on the installation disk you’ll usually find a file called ‘Setup Instructions’ or ‘Read Me’. If you are having problems always have a look at these. It can save you a lot of time.

Elimination

Sometimes you’ll have fault with a myriad of possible cause. It will be a head scratcher knowing where to even start. It’s in situations like this that you’ll need to adopt the ‘John Carefully weigh up all the options’ approach.

What you’ve got to do is think logically and eliminate as many possibilities as you can in the order of likelihood. Start by undoing any recent changes made to the system. Then remove or disable as much of the systems hardware as possible. Disconnect any peripherals such as printers and scanners. Uninstall any suspect software. In this way you can eliminate many of the possibilities and gradually the picture will become clearer. Reboot after every change you make. If for example, you disconnect all your peripherals in one go and then reboot successfully, you won’t know which peripheral was causing the problem.

Substitution

The easiest and best way to check a component in your system is to substitute it which one you know to be good. It’s also the only way to be absolutely certain that a particular component is either good or bad. A typically example would be when your monitor is dead on bootup. The most likely causes of this are monitor itself or the graphics card. But which one? It shouldn’t be too difficult to beg, steal or borrow a monitor from a friend or neighbor or connect your to their system. This method can save untold hours of troubleshooting but does rely on a supply of spare components which will probably not be readily available. However, many people do upgrade their computers and keep the original parts for just this sort of purpose. A few phone calls to your acquaintances could well unearth what you are looking for.

If and when you carry out an upgrade to your system, make a point of keeping the old component in a safe place. If you should subsequently have problems with the new component, you can use the old to check it with.

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