Telling The Difference Between Computer Hardware and Software Problems

-Usually it's a software problem.

-If your computer is less than a month old and you already have software or hardware problems, return it!

-Hardware problems usually occur quickly (like all of a sudden the CD/DVD/Blu-ray drive can't be accessed). A software problem, however, can be present for a long time before you notice (such as the video card played your favourite video game for a month, but then you got a new video game and the video card didn't work with the game; this is a software compatibility issue and can only really be fixed by an updated driver and/or better video card. Consult the software developer for more details). Please note: Software problems usually stem from hardware problems. For instance, a game might not work because it requires DirectX 10, while your video card may doesn't have the hardware or software components to support DirectX 10 (DirectX is a part of Windows that helps computer game developers make their games work on virtually every computer, refer to DirectX 10 article coming soon).

Hardware Problem

-Happens quickly and unexpectantly.

-Computer turns off in a few minutes or so (usually caused by overheating, which is usually caused by a malfunctioning fan, intense CPU load, or the computer is working in an atmosphere of over 32 degrees Celsius). To help alleviate this problem, download Speedfan for free to monitor computer temperatures, voltages, and fan speeds. You can also configure Speedfan to beep or perform another action when a computer component is overheating or the computer's hard drive is having problems.

-Keyboard num lock, Caps lock, and/or scroll lock doesn't work.

-Mouse laser doesn't work even when plugged in and on Windows (refer to "A Bad Keyboard" article).

-There is no noise when starting up your computer (this usually indicates some sort of electrical problem in your computer or a bad power supply). You should normally hear a fan, the hard drive and maybe the computer's monitor (if it's a CRT), printer and external hard drive (if you have these things), and maybe even a beep. Refer to the "Computer Noises" article coming soon.

-Your computer's ports don't work (such as your HDMI, LAN, and USB ports).

-You have trouble accessing your computer's folders and you have a loud hard drive (this usually indicates a hard drive problem, such as needing to defragment your hard drive, clean up temporary files on it, and more).

-Your computer's screen is all jumbled up (video card).

-Your internet is slow (usually from too much traffic).

Software Problem

-Computer usually taking too much RAM or CPU Power and your computer is extremely slow (a computer being slow is almost ALWAYS a software problem unless you have an old computer).

-Something works in one program but not the other. For example, you can print a document in Internet Explorer, but not in Firefox.

-Keyboard and mouse commands get messed up when you run a certain program.

-Running a command/option/preference in a program messes up the computer.

-A program displays a blue screen with white text when it is run (there is also a good chance that this may be a hardware problem as well).

-A program causes your video/sound to be choppy.

If you don't know whether or not you have a hardware or software problem, try using a different piece of hardware (such as a different video card if your display is jumbled; make sure you have a driver installed) or a different software program (such as a different word processor like Open Office which you can get for free, rather than Microsoft Word).


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