How to troubleshoot and fix your most common gadget issues
PCs, printers, smartphones, cameras, networks - your stuff will inevitably stop working. Here's how to troubleshoot and fix your most common tech issues.
If Windows successfully boots, then crashes soon afterwards
Start by updating all your drivers - first, the essential drivers provided by your PC manufacturer, then the drivers for your peripherals and extra devices.
Don't forget to update your BIOS, too.
If your PC is crashing soon after startup, try uninstalling anything you recently downloaded and checking your startup apps and background processes to see if something is going wrong.
You can view the processes in the Task Manager by pressing Ctrl-Shift-Esc and clicking the Processes tab - and you can use ProcessLibrary.com as a reference for figuring out the obscure ones.
For startup items, search for msconfig and click on the Startup tab to see what's going on.
If something you recently installed shows up in there, it might be your culprit.
If your crashes aren't so easy to reproduce, try running a scan for viruses and malware with your preferred security suite.
On the other hand, if you recently installed a new security suite and started seeing problems, try uninstalling it and then use a different one.
Security apps typically get deeper into the guts of your system than other apps, meaning they're more prone to incompatibilities.
Still can't figure it out? Google can be your best friend when it comes to troubleshooting, especially if you have an error message handy - even if the official support sites haven't covered your specific problem, odds are that someone has posted on a tech forum about it (such as our own PC Advisor Helproom forum).
Search for the specific error message - in quotes - for best results, and if you can't find an immediately obvious error message, try looking in Control Panel, Problem Reports and Solutions (Vista); or, for Windows 7, open Control Panel, Action Center, Maintenance, View reliability history, and click on View all problem reports at the bottom of the window.
If you can't find any leads, you might have to do a clean Windows reinstall. Back up your data, reformat, and install from scratch. For more troubleshooting tips, check out 'Top Free Troubleshooting Tools for Windows'.
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