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5 - Error Messages

What were the indicators that alerted you to the fact that there was a problem? Did the computer display any error codes or messages on the screen when the problem first occurred? In most cases, error codes and/or messages will give you an indication of what the problem is and depending on the error, how serious of a problem it is.

If you boot up the computer and all it does is beep at you, you have a fatal error. This means that the error is severe enough that it will prevent the computer from starting. This problem is usually associated with an internal device in the computer, such as an adapter card or maybe a bad hard drive. If you installed a new device in the computer, you will need to check the jumper settings and make sure that they do not conflict with any other devices in the computer. The jumper setting to check first is that for the IRQ (interrupt level). Each device in the computer must have a unique interrupt level. The most common IRQ conflicts are usually between a mouse, one of the COM (serial) ports, or a modem.

If the computer boots up, but displays an error code or message during the bootup process, then you probably have a nonfatal error that can easily be resolved (usually), by checking the configuration files. Double check your spelling and path settings for any new devices that you installed.

6 - The KISS Principle

Keep It Simple Stupid. After checking in the manual and making sure everything is plugged in, start your trouble shooting with the simple stuff first. Since the majority of the problems that you are likely to encounter are going to be a result of either something that you or someone else using the computer did, rarely are you ever going to need to take the computer apart. If the computer was functioning properly before, there must be something that has changed. Have you added a new software application or hardware device?

Another approach to use is to figure out what the problem isn't. In other words, if you are not having any luck figuring out what is causing the problem, start checking the devices that you think are functioning properly to make sure that they indeed are working as you would expect. By process of elimination, you may eventually end up with the problem.