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Trouble shooting help for Windows from your friends at Computer Doctor.

Windows 7 Compatibility Info- click here

Spyware/Trojans/Malware is the biggest problem we are seeing in more than 90% of the computers we fix.

We recommend and install the latest Norton Anti-Virus.

  1. Is the computer plugged in? This sounds simple enough, but you'd be amazed how often a loose power cord is the source of the trouble, usually at the computer end. Alternately: The power strip/surge protector has somehow been switched off or the circuit breaker is tripped.
  2. Are you looking at the right cord? If the computer starts but the monitor doesn't, check the monitor power cord. Also check the monitor video cable if the monitor turns on but there is no picture.
  3. Plug and re-plug. And if the network, modem, keyboard, or mouse is on the fritz...see where I am headed here? Until proven otherwise, it is always a cable problem. Turn everything off and unplug and re-plug all the cords and cables, and many problems will amazingly work themselves out.
  4. Have you checked your PC cards? Likewise, check to see if a cable has somehow wiggled one of the add-on cards out of its socket. If any of the cables attached to your PC want to wiggle around despite being firmly screwed in, this is likely your problem. You'll have to open the computer to fix this one.
  5. Push down firmly on each card and check the mounting screws.
  6. Printer problem? Is there ink/toner/paper in the printer? It's amazing how a lack thereof can impede your printing efforts.
  7. Modem? Are you sure the phone jack works? Do you get a dial tone at the jack? When you plug a regular phone into your modem line, do you get dial tone? Try the phone jack on the modem also. Try a different PCI slot to solve memory/IRQ conflicts.
  8. What have you changed recently? While it's true that computers sometimes break down for no reason, most problems have something to do with new hardware or software and occur shortly after installation. I am amazed by how often I ask people what software they've recently added/uninstalled and they don't tell me--until the sixth or seventh time I've asked. Does uninstalling, then reinstalling problem software fix things?
  9. Does removing the recently installed hardware/software clear up the trouble? USB devices are a problem in this regard as the computer may not be able to provide enough power to the device. Trying uninstalling as many USB devices as you can and see if the problem goes away--some devices, for example, don't get enough power from a hub but work fine when connected directly to the computer.
  10. Where are you booting from? If there is a diskette in the drive or a CD is trying to boot your computer, you can get really odd errors--so make sure all the drives are empty. Some PCs will try to boot off the CD if there is a CD in the drive. (a CMOS setting)
  11. I usually set it to boot ONLY from the hard disk.
  12. When in doubt, reboot. You've already rebooted the computer (more than once, if necessary) to see if it solves the problem. You have, haven't you? You'd be amazed how many people stare at a frozen computer waiting for it to come back to life. This sometimes does happen, but after about 10 minutes of waiting, consider a power-down reboot. Likewise, sometimes it takes multiple reboots to make a problem go away. I believe Windows should be re-booted at least once a day to clear the memory.
  13. No picture? Do the lights come on? Are the power and video cords plugged all the way in? Is the computer power supply cooling fan running? Can you hear it and feel air movement in the back? Have you tried pressing the computer re-set button? Have you turned the computer and all peripherals off and back on again - computer turned on last?
  14. Boots but monitor not readable? Try booting in Safe Mode by holding down the Ctrl F8  key during boot and select Safe Mode from the resulting menu, then go to Settings, Control Panel, Display, Settings and set the Screen Area pixels to 640 x 480, click OK and re-start the computer.
  15. Computer locks up? Does the mouse pointer move? Hit Ctrl-Alt-Delete one time to bring up the Close Program dialog box to look at the programs currently in memory to look for any that say (not responding) next to them. Close them and see if that fixes the problem. Try closing all programs except Explorer and Systray in the Close Program dialog box.
  16. Are the keyboard lights on? Can you toggle them on and off? Try the Caps Lock key. If the keyboard lights won’t toggle on and off you have lost communication with the keyboard and you must re-boot.
  17. The keyboard (if not USB) is only recognized by the computer if it is connected at power-up. USB keyboards can be plugged & unplugged at random and still work fine. You can use multiple keyboards.
  18. Other problems? Look in Control Panel, System, Device Manager for items with a yellow ! or red mark next to them.
  19. BIOS error codes (experts only)
    AMI Bios Beep Codes
    ---------------------------------------------------
    0 no beeps, no picture, no sound = mystery? Could be no memory installed. I was on a service call several years ago and apparently an employee had stolen the memory chips and it would not boot up.

    1 beep - DRAM refresh failure
    2 beeps - Parity Circuit Failure
    3 beeps - Base 64K RAM failure
    4 beeps - System Timer Failure
    5 beeps - Processor Failure
    6 beeps - Keyboard Controller / Gate A20 Failure
    7 beeps - Virtual Mode Exception Error
    8 beeps - Display Memory Read/Write Failure
    9 beeps - ROM BIOS Checksum Failure
    10 beeps - CMOS Shutdown Register Read/Write Error 

    0 beeps
    * Are the memory modules installed?
    * Check the power supply - is it supplying power to the motherboard? 
    * Next, make sure all components and properly installed/fixed/present. 
    Usual suspects: CPU, BIOS chip, memory chips, etc. 
    * Then check your components and user's manual: are all jumpers set correctly?
    * Remove all cards except the video adapter to make sure no other cards are causing the problem. 
    * If this works, try to identify the card causing the problem.
    * If none of the above works, contact your dealer or motherboard supplier.

    1, 2, 3 beeps
    Try reseating the memory (take it out and install it again). 
    If the error still occurs, replace the memory with known good chips. 
    4, 5, 6, 7, 10 
    Fatal beeps, the motherboard needs repair/servicing.
    6
    If the error persists, check parts of the system relating to the keyboard, e.g. try another keyboard, check to see if the system has a keyboard fuse. 
    Try reseating the keyboard controller chip. 
    If the error still occurs, replace the keyboard chip. 

    Memory error on the video adapter. 
    Replace the video card or the memory on the video card. 
    9
    Faulty BIOS chip. 
    Consult a distributor of Flash EPROM chips that can be used with the motherboard. Probably less costly and much quicker to replace the motherboard.

    AWARD Bios Beep Codes
    ---------------------------------------------------

    Award Bios Beep Codes

    One singe beep + two short beeps:
    VIDEO ERROR HAS OCCURRED - BIOS CANNOT INITIALIZE THE VIDEO SCREEN.

    Other beep combinations:
    (not specified, probably RAM problem)