Top 10 Computer Disasters (and How to Deal With Them)

Using a computer means that sometimes you have to deal with annoying, possibly catastrophic, problems like losing all of your data in the event of a hard drive failure. Here are ten of the most common computer problems and how to fix them.

10. Your laptop was lost or stolen

When your laptop goes missing – lost or stolen – you are likely to panic. Take a deep breath. If you had tracking software like the free open source Prey installed prior to the event , you could potentially get it back quickly or erase it remotely. Otherwise, you should be able to find your laptop using Gmail or Dropbox . Or, if you use the service backup Backblaze , they can also keep track of your laptop. Otherwise, you can file a police report and hope for the best. To keep yourself safe in the future: Consider these five lessons .

9. Your computer detects a virus or other malware.

Viruses, worms and spyware (oh my god). Malware is a constant threat, even if you are good at computers and protect you from viruses and malware . Here’s how to find out if something you’re downloading is actually infected with a virus and how to remove it from your computer (even if your computer won’t boot).

8. Your computer fan won’t shut up

While the noisy fan is not nearly as dangerous as previous problems, it is very annoying and could be a sign that something is seriously wrong, such as your computer overheating . If your fan is running all the time and your computer is hot, there are both cheap possible solutions (like cleaning rabbit dust ) and hardware upgrades you can do .

7. Leaks of water cooling inside the computer.

Speaking of noise, water cooling is a great way to get more power from your PC while maintaining complete silence. However, this is not for everyone, especially if you’ve survived the nightmare of an explosion of your water cooling. Here’s what to do if this happens to you.

6. Your display looks distorted.

If your screen starts to look odd – random lines or psychedelic graphics appear randomly, this could be a sign that your monitor or graphics card is on its last legs. We showed you a few steps to troubleshoot this issue on Mac, and Dell has a troubleshooting guide for various desktop monitor or laptop screen issues on Windows computers.

5. Windows or OS X won’t load properly or keep crashing

You only press the power button to see a cryptic message that your computer is having some kind of startup problem. (This is different from pressing the power button when nothing happens at all. See below.) Your first step, as in most cases, is to try to reboot and see if that fixes the situation. We’ve mentioned other steps to take for OS X if you get the kernel error shown above, and MacWorld offers several other suggestions , such as booting into OS X recovery mode and running Disk Utility. The fixes for Windows are similar, try booting into Safe Mode or when performing an update or reset in Windows 8, as this How-To Geek article suggests. Also, if you get a specific error message when you start your computer but can’t access the operating system, try searching for that exact error phrase. This can tell you if you need to update your hardware driver or what else might be causing the crash.

4. Your computer won’t turn on

If your computer doesn’t even pretend to turn on, it could be for a number of reasons. Your computer may start, but your monitor is having problems (if you hear a fan or drive noise, or your computer keyboard lights up, go back three steps to Issue # 7 to troubleshoot your display). If not, it could be a power problem. Check your power adapter or surge protector ( not all the same ) and replace with a different adapter if you have one to test. If you’ve upgraded your computer hardware (such as installing new memory), try revert to your original configuration to see if that helps. If it’s a laptop, the battery might be low (or you just haven’t charged it). Here’s how to find out if your laptop battery needs replacing . PC Support at offers additional troubleshooting steps .

3. Your internet connection suddenly slows down or stops working.

We’ve all been there, facing intermittent internet connection issues, slow internet connections or no internet at all. The troubleshooting method will depend on the type of problem you are experiencing. If you can’t access any sites at all from any of your computers or devices, try restarting your modem. If you are unable to navigate to certain sites, your router keeps losing connection, or only one computer on your network is unable to connect to the network, check out these troubleshooting instructions . However, if your internet connection is just slow, you will want to check Wi-Fi reception and other possible causes such as your browser freezing due to extensions and other problems. We also have the top 10 for fixing slow internet connections .

2. Your hard drive crashed or is not working

Hard drives don’t last forever ; It’s not about whether a hard drive fails, but when to bear in mind (which is why regular computer backups are so important) . If your hard drive is now making strange noises or you can’t access it at all, you can still recover your data even if the drive is damaged or erased . Connect the drive to an external enclosure and you can find and copy your most important files.

1. Your computer has slowed down scanning

What if not only the Internet, but everything that you are trying to do on your computer suddenly freezes? This might be the most common troubleshooting complaint. Unfortunately, over time, all computers will slow down as they get more bloated, and hard drives can slow down as they approach the end of their life. This does not mean that you cannot speed up and fix a slow computer . Once you’ve ruled out viruses or other malware, some basic routines like wiping your hard drive and running some diagnostic tools can update your PC for much-needed performance improvements.

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