Differentiating Between a Hardware Problem and a Software Problem

Differentiating Between a Hardware Problem and a Software Problem

A computer is an indispensable tool, but it can be difficult to diagnose a computer problem when it arises. Here are some typical problems and tips to help you tell whether your computer’s issue has to do with hardware or software:

What is Hardware?

Hardware can be any of the physical components in your computer. Your computer houses RAM, a motherboard, a hard-drive, and many other physical, touchable components that are intricately woven together to form the machine you are reading this article via right now. Those parts don’t just magically know how to move, though, and that’s where we get “software.”

What is Software?

Software is the code that shows your computer how to run. Your computer runs on an “operating system,” or “OS” for short. Applications like Microsoft Word and your internet browser run on top of that. Software is something that can be more cheaply fixed than if you needed a physical part replaced.

With this knowledge, let’s look at some problems and tips you can use to find the right people to call when your computer has a problem:

The Computer is Making a Strange Noise

If your computer is making a noise that it usually doesn’t, turn it off immediately. This is a hardware problem, and if it continues it could severely damage parts in your computer. Now would be a good time to give Crumbacher a call.

Still Screens

If your screen turns blue, your problem is likely hardware. Generally speaking, good software has had most of these types of bugs combed out of it over many years and iterations. If your computer screen is freezing frequently, you should call for computer service to take a closer look.

Computer Running Slow, Specifically on Start-Up?

Many applications, like Skype and social media programs, boot up immediately when the computer turns on and you sign in. Some of these programs are very slow and take up a lot of memory, especially if you have more than one of them boot up immediately. Go through any programs you have set to do this and turn that functionality off. You’ll thank yourself the next time you turn on your computer. If this doesn’t help, be sure to take your computer to a professional.

Computer Running Slow?

You may just need to delete everything in your recycle bin or run a virus scan (see tips on these further down). These may fix slow-running computer symptoms you’re having on the software side of things.

There’s a slim chance, though, that there’s a hardware issue. It could be as simple as your CPU overheating. Try keeping your office cooler and dryer and see if there’s any improvement. If there is, you may have to start bringing a sweater to work.

Still having trouble? Sure it’s a software problem? Re-install your operating system to return your computer to factory settings. Don’t know how to do that? We can help.

When Your Computer Won’t Start Up

There are many things that could cause your computer to fail on start-up. A failure of the hard-drive in this scenario might look like a black screen that says there’s no “bootable device” available. Often times, this is the hard-disk having trouble. It’s time to call in the experts if the list doesn’t show your hard-disk.

If your computer freezes or crashes while trying to start up, the problem could be hardware or software. This near certainly means it’s time to call your local computer expert.

A Few General Tips to Fix a Computer that Won’t Start

It sounds cliche, but sometimes turning the computer off and on fixes the problem. Don’t just immediately restart it, however.

Turn the computer off, unplug it from its power source, and wait at least five minutes. Give it some time on its own. After you’ve got a cup of hot coffee, make sure all the cords are in their proper places and pushed far enough in, finishing with the power cord. Turn the computer back on.

Have patience. The worst thing to do in the situation of a computer malfunction is to lose patience.

If this doesn’t work, try re-installing Windows. This will give your computer a factory-reset, so be sure that any files you care about are backed up somewhere other than the machine you are working on, just in case. Again, give us a ring if you aren’t comfortable with this.

Another way to help your computer out, in general, is to go into your recycle bin and delete everything permanently. When you delete anything on your computer, it doesn’t actually go away. It goes into your recycle bin, that way if you regret deleting it you can restore it back to its previous file location. Make sure there’s nothing you actually foresee needing, then delete everything permanently. This may take a while, as things can really pile up in there over time. Have another rest. Make more coffee.

Run a virus scan. This is a good idea to do every once in a while anyway, so why not double check everything’s going okay while you’re giving your computer a check-up. There are many reputable anti-virus programs out there.

We hope you find this information valuable and helpful! If you have any question, contact us!

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