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1 - Be Prepared

You should always be prepared for the inevitable. The best defense for the eventual problems that you may encounter is having a current backup of all of the important files on your computer. It is not necessary to backup all of the software applications that you have the diskettes or CD-ROMs for, in a worst case scenario you can always reload those. The backup is important whether you are installing a new hardware device or a software application or you are trying to diagnose a problem. If something ever goes wrong, you will always be able to restore the computer to its original condition.

In addition to the backup, you should always have an updated boot diskette available for your computer. If during the installation process or while trouble shooting you encounter a problem that prevents the computer from booting up properly, the boot diskette will be a life saver.

One other thing regarding the installation of new hardware or software, read the installation section of the manual. Even if you have installed the same or a similar device or application before, take a couple minutes and check the manual to see if the installation procedure has changed. Also if you are considering the installation or upgrade of a new operating system, such as upgrading from Windows 3.1 to Windows 95 or Windows NT, check in the manual before you start the installation to see if the hardware that you have is supported. If the CD-ROM, or tape drive isn't supported, then you might want to either reconsider the upgrade or check with the manufacturer to see if there is a software upgrade for the device.

2 - Be sure there is a Problem

Be sure there is a problem before you do anything. In other words, if it ain't broken don't try to fix it. The majority of the problems that I encounter are solved by simply rebooting the computer and starting over. Why this works most of the time is beyond me, but it does. Be careful when you reboot a computer, especially if you are running some version of Windows. With Windows, you must make sure you have exited, if possible, each application. If you are running Windows NT, Windows 95, or IBM's OS/2, you must do a graceful shutdown of the operating system to make sure all of the applications are closed and all of the files that were opened are saved properly. Also, if you are doing something differently, such as using a new software application or hardware device, make sure that you configured it correctly.

Is it plugged in? Don't laugh, this has happened to me on a few occasions. It may be something as simple as connecting the computer to the electrical wall outlet or something not quite as obvious, such as a printer or modem cable. Also, there are different types of cables for printers, modems, scanners, etc., make sure you have the correct one.

The constant heating and cooling on the internal components of a computer causes expansion and contraction of the internal cable connectors. This expansion and contraction can cause some connectors to lose their connection over time. If a computer that has been working fine all of a sudden loses its hard drive, tape drive, CD-ROM drive, or diskette drive, the first thing I do is re-connect the data cable and power connectors on the drive and then reboot the computer.

When you install an internal device such as a hard drive, tape drive, or a CD-ROM drive, they must be connected to both the computer's internal power supply and a data cable that connects to a controller. If you forget to plug the device in or if the connection gets unplugged when you put the cover back on, it will of course not work. After installing an internal device in the computer, I usually boot the computer up and make sure everything is working properly before replacing the cover.