First Steps to Self-Troubleshooting Your Errors

The two main causes of computer errors are software programs and hardware devices installed on the PC. This article will introduce you to the initial steps you can take to easily troubleshoot and repair computer errors.

With thousands of known computer errors, each error message can mean something different and may have its own unique solution.  However, there are some general troubleshooting steps that are known to resolve a wide variety of problems.  Here are three troubleshooting steps you’ll want to try for most any error you may encounter…

  1. Reboot
    Surprisingly, many computer errors can often be resolved by performing a simple reboot. Reboot your PC through a restart or shut-down. If your computer error will not let you reboot, then try pressing or holding down on your computer’s restart or power button.

  2. Update
    If the computer error persists after rebooting your PC, then you may need to update your computer’s software.  Here are three different types of updates you will want to consider…

    • Run “Windows Update” to scan for updates to your PC.
      1. Click the Start button
      2. Open Control Panel
      3. Select Windows Update
      4. Follow the instructions to check for updates
    • If your error is software related, check to make sure you are using the latest version of the program you are experiencing the error with.
      1. Open the specific program
      2. If present, select Help
      3. Click Check for Updates or something similar if present
        Note: The programs update feature may be found in another menu. Refer to the programs help manual or vendor website for assistance.

    • If your error is hardware related, download the latest drivers of the specific computer hardware you are experiencing the error with.
      1. Click the Start button
      2. Right click My Computer (Vista users to go to step 5)
      3. Select Properties (XP only)
      4. Click the Hardware tab (XP only)
      5. Open Device Manager
      6. Find your hardware device under the appropriate category
      7. Right-click and select Update Driver
        Note: You will need an Internet connection to check for online driver updates

  3. Reinstall
    If your computer error continues and you are using the most current Windows updates, program versions, and hardware files, then you may need to reinstall the specific program or hardware device to solve your issue.

    • If your error is related to a specific software program, start by reinstalling the program either through Windows Control Panel or through the Start Menu programs list.
    • Control Panel

      1. Click the Start button
      2. Open Control Panel
      3. Click Programs & Features (Vista) or Add or Remove Programs (XP)
      4. Uninstall the program creating the error
      5. Reinstall the program

      Start Menu

      1. Open the Start menu
      2. Click All Programs
      3. Select the program creating the error
      4. If present, click the Uninstall option under the dropdown
      5. Reinstall the program
    • If your error is hardware related, uninstall the hardware device and then reinstall it.
      1. Click the Start button
      2. Right click My Computer (Vista users to go to step 5)
      3. Select Properties (XP only)
      4. Click the Hardware tab (XP only)
      5. Open Device Manager
      6. Find your hardware device under the appropriate category
      7. Right-click and select Uninstall
      8. Reboot your computer and let Windows recognize and install the hardware device.

Still have issues?

If the above steps did not resolve your computer error, you will need to begin researching outside resources to assist you.

Before you begin looking for outside help troubleshooting your error, first make notes regarding your error, including the exact error message wording and specific issue.  Use our easy-to-use checklist to help you gather all the information you or someone else may need to effectively troubleshoot and resolve your error.

Once you have a firm understanding of the computer error you are dealing with, read the next article Where to find help for your error message.