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10 tips and tricks for nagging PC problems

Is your PC in need of some discipline?

If you're having trouble with your Wi-Fi network, your printer is up to no good and your PC is begrudgingly slow to start up, it's time to put some fire in its belly.

  1. Your Wi-Fi network is now dog-slow. If it's not a network outage, you likely have interference. Try relocating your router to shield it from disruptions such as microwave use or calls from a cordless phone. Or you may be on a crowded channel. Change the channel via your router's configuration page; look for a 'Channel' section and try 1, 6, or 11.
  2. Your display looks terrible. Check display settings by right-clicking the desktop; choose Properties in XP or Personalize in Vista, then Settings. If you can't increase resolution and colour quality, click Advanced, Adapter. If Standard VGA Adapter or another generic adapter is listed, download a driver specific to your PC. If your adapter is there, try a prior driver version. In XP, click Properties, Driver, Roll Back Driver; in Vista, open the Personalization Control Panel, choose Display Settings, Advanced Settings, Properties, and click Driver, Roll Back Driver.
  3. Your printer is spewing out garbage. A cancelled print job may not have cleared properly from the printer's memory. Turn the printer off for a minute, then back on. While you're waiting, go to Start, Printers and Faxes in XP, or Start, Printers in Vista, to delete anything in the print queue. If the problem continues, download and reinstall the driver.
  4. Your default printer is no longer the default. Some applications, such as Microsoft's OneNote, install faux-printer-like devices as output options, and some will unhelpfully make them the default for all print jobs. Select Start, Run, type control printers, and press Enter. Right-click the printer you prefer, and click Set as Default Printer.

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