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Tech Notes

 

Tech Note # 1

 

Resolve/Answer to Help Desk # 1 - Computer Freezes/Halts

 

Three Areas of Concern

 

1.  Major Hardware Problems - Bad/Broken/Malfunctioning Parts

2.  Major Software Problems - Failing/Malfunctioning Software

3.  Major Problems (Environmental) - Failing/Malfunctioning Hardware/Software

 

 

Resolve/Answer to Help Desk # 1 - Computer Freezes/Halts

 

1.  Major Hardware Problems - Bad/Broken/Malfunctioning Parts

 

NOTE - Any Problem/Failure can be either 'Intermittent (Temporary/Recurring)' or 'Perminent (Solid/Hard)' in nature.  Any 'Problem/Failure' that is not quickly 'Re-Bootable' or 'Re-Startable' should be considered a 'Perminent (Solid/Hard)' failure.  Individuals who are not 'Professional Level Technicians' cannot 'Resolve' these types of 'Problems/Failures'.  If/When a 'Computer System' 'Freezes/Halts' and 'Re-Boots/Re-Starts' to run again it can be considered a 'Glitch' until it fails a 'Second Time'.  The 'Second Failure' within an hour or so makes it an 'Intermittent Failure'.  If these Failures/Freezes/Halts are allowed to happen with great frequency, your 'Computer System' will eventually get very confused and will refuse to 'Re-Boot or Re-Start' and the 'Intermittent Failure' will become a 'Perminent (Solid/Hard) Failure'.  You should have your 'Computer System' repaired before the 'Problem/Failure' is such that it becomes even more costly to repair.  Four things to remember about 'Computer Problems'.  1.  The 'Computer System' cannot and will not repair itself.  2.  Computer problems never get better, they will only get worse.  3.  Computers cost money when you buy them and they will cost money when you have to repair them.  4.  The 'Life Cycle' of today's 'Computer Systems' is about 3 years therefore, if your 'System' is older than three years or so and your warranty has run out when it breaks, consider buying a new 'System' for $500.00 rather than spending $300.00 to fix the old one.

 

1.  Bad Fan(s) - Each 'Computer System' has at least 3 fans in the main case.  Any 1 fan can fail at any time.  All fans are made up of electric motor, bearings fan blades and housing/connectors/wires.  Any single part can and will fail sometime during the 'Life Cycle' of your 'Computer System'.  Individual fan parts are non-replaceable.  If any fan is found to be no-op, you must replace the whole fan assembly with an exact replacement fan.  If the fan within the main power supply is not spinning, you must replace the power supply as a unit to fix the fan.  Most other fans are visible and can be replaced as unit assemblies.

 

2.  Bad Power Supply (Main) - The main 'Power Supply' provides the four D.C. Voltages that 'drives' all of the various components that function together to make your 'Computer System'.  If/When any one of the four voltages goes high or low or fails to remain constant, your 'Computer System' will fail.  Components within the 'Power Supply' will age and eventually fail.  It really doesn't matter which voltage fails because any voltage failure is catastrophic.

 

3.  Bad Hard Drive(s) - Each 'Computer System' has at least 1 hard drive.  The hard drive (disk) rotates at either 5400 or 7200 RPMs.  Just like the fans, the hard drive is driven by an electric motor which rotates on a shaft which is suspended on ball bearings.  The disk platters are attached to the motor shaft.  Read/write 'heads' are suspended over the surfaces of the disk platters.  These heads 'literally' 'fly' over the disks at 10 millionths of an inch clearance when the disks are rotating.  A block of logic (chips) which control the functions of the hard drive are planted on a small printed circuit board at the base of the hard drive.  All of these 'parts' can and will fail at some time during the "Life Cycle' of your 'Computer System'.  Any failure of the 'Hard Drive' is catastrophic and almost always non-repairable and therefore your 'Software' and 'Data' are almost always unrecoverable.

 

4.  Bad Mother Board - Ninety Per-Cent of all 'Logic' (chips) and 'Solid State Components' (electronics) are now planted on the 'Mother Board'.  Thousands (millions) of 'Decision Making Circuits' are located together with thousands of 'Wiring and Lands' on the 'Mother Board'.  Any one of these components can and will fail at some point during the 'Life Cycle' of your 'Computer System'.

 

5.  Bad (Failing) Component or Components - There are hundreds of components located throughout the interior and exterior of the 'Case'.  Plugs, Connectors, and Cables and Wires make up the bulk of the components just mentioned.  These components are sometimes damaged during moving, connecting and reconnecting.  If failures begin soon after moving, connecting or reconnecting then you should suspect same.  Many of these components may age and fail with time.  Again, one or more of these types of failures will occur during the 'Life Cycle' of your 'Computer System'.

 

 

Resolve/Answer to Help Desk # 1 - Computer Freezes/Halts

 

2.  Major Software Problems - Failing/Malfunctioning Software

 

NOTE - Any Problem/Failure can be either 'Intermittent (Temporary/Recurring)' or 'Perminent (Solid/Hard)' in nature.  Any 'Problem/Failure' that is not quickly 'Re-Bootable' or 'Re-Startable' should be considered a 'Perminent (Solid/Hard)' failure.  Individuals who are not 'Professional Level Technicians' cannot 'Resolve' these types of 'Problems/Failures'.  If/When a 'Computer System' 'Freezes/Halts' and 'Re-Boots/Re-Starts' to run again it can be considered a 'Glitch' until it fails a 'Second Time'.  The 'Second Failure' within an hour or so makes it an 'Intermittent Failure'.  If these Failures/Freezes/Halts are allowed to happen with great frequency, your 'Computer System' will eventually get very confused and will refuse to 'Re-Boot or Re-Start' and the 'Intermittent Failure' will become a 'Perminent (Solid/Hard) Failure'.  You should have your 'Computer System' repaired before the 'Problem/Failure' is such that it becomes even more costly to repair.  Four things to remember about 'Computer Problems'.  1.  The 'Computer System' cannot and will not repair itself.  2.  Computer problems never get better, they will only get worse.  3.  Computers cost money when you buy them and they will cost money when you have to repair them.  4.  The 'Life Cycle' of today's 'Computer Systems' is about 3 years therefore, if your 'System' is older than three years or so and your warranty has run out when it breaks, consider buying a new 'System' for $500.00 rather than spending $300.00 to fix the old one.

 

Software comes in many varieties and levels of functionality.  Software Failure/Malfunction causes many 'Computer Systems' to 'Freeze/Halt'.

 

1.  The lowest level of 'Programming' or 'Software' is Machine Code (Programs) that 'Controls' basic functions such as 'Math' and 'Decision Making Processes' is 'Written' into 'ROM - Read Only Memory' 'Chips'.  Once these chips are written (burned), they become hardware (chips).  When this 'Hardware' fails, a 'Software Error' occurs.  Many functions are alterable by the 'System Operator (SysOp).  These 'Programs (Codes)' are written or burned into 'EPROMS/EEPROMS - Erasable/Programmable Read Only Memory' 'Chips'.  Once written or re-written, these chips becom 'ROMS' and remain 'ROM' until altered by the programmer or 'SysOp'.  Any of these chips can and will fail at any time during the 'Life Cycle' of your 'Computer System'.  These 'Hardware Failures' will be 'Manifest' as 'Software Errors'.  Machine Code is the 'Engine'.

 

2.  Software Drivers (Software) - Small 'Programs' that are normally provided by 'Hardware Manufacturers.  These 'Drivers' provide the 'Software Interface' between the 'Machine Code' and the 'OpSys' that allows 'foreign products (peripherals) to function seamlessly with your specific 'System' and 'OpSys'.

 

3.  The original Operating System (OpSys) for the PC was marketed in 1980.  It was PCDOS 1 to IBM and MSDOS 1 to all other PC Manufacturers.  The most recent OpSys is Windows 7.  The original DOS (Disk Operating System) was 'Text Based'.  All Operating Systems since Windows 1 have been GUI (Graphical User Interface) Based.  The Operating System provides all of the 'Command/Control' and  functionality that allows the End User (Operator) to 'Direct' the 'Processes' that 'Drive' the 'Computer System'.  The OpSys is equivalent to the 'Transmission'.  Any 'Glitch' in the 'Operating System' will make your 'Computer System' inoperable.

 

4.  Utilities - Software that enhances the functionality and usability of other 'Applications Software' usually falls into this 'Category' of 'Software'.  A good example is 'Acrobat Reader'.  This 'Reader' allows one to 'Read/View/Print' 'Documents' that were created using the 'Adobe Acrobat Document Software'.  Documents are produced in a proprietary format called PDF or Portable Document Format.  Another example is Microsoft's 'Word Reader Utility'.  This utility permits the 'Computer Operator' to read and print 'Word Documents (.doc format)' without purchasing the very expensive Word Processor Software.  Most of these 'Utilities' are provided free by the 'Software Publisher'.

 

5.  Applications Software - All 'Job Specific' Software can be considered to be 'Applications' Software.  The best known and most widely used 'Applications Software Package' used today is the 'Microsoft Suite'.  This 'Suite' of 'Applications' is, in reality, seven, eight, or nine 'Applications', depending upon the Version or Rev. of the 'Software Package'.  The 'Package' is called a 'Suite' because all of the 'Pieces' have been 'Integrated' such that they run together 'Seamlessly'.  All 'Software' within the 'Suite' has been produced so that 'knowledge' of one 'Piece' is transportable to other 'Parts' of the 'Suite.  Screens and Command Structures are similar in all 'Applications' within the 'Suite'.

 

6.  Malware - Viruses have plagued the PC industry since its inception.  Many forms of 'intrusive' and 'destructive' software has been introduced to the PC since 1980.  Viruses, Trojan Horses, Worms, Ad Ware, and Spy Ware are just a few of the types that come to mind.  Together, they are called 'Malicious Software' or 'Malware' for short.  When any PC becomes infected by any one of these 'Malware' programs, performance will be degraded and eventually the 'Malware' will cause complete and 'Catastrophic Failure'.

 

When your 'Computer System' slows down severely and/or starts to Freeze/Halt regularly, you should suspect a 'Software Problem'.  Any 'Piece' of 'Software' within any of the 6 'Categories' listed and described above can cause the 'Symptoms' just mentioned.  Today, the biggest reason for 'Software Failures' is 'Malware' especially if you use the 'Internet' a lot.  Since 'Malware' 'Attacks' all forms of 'Healthy Software', it only takes seconds for a new 'Virus' to 'Infect' and 'Destroy' hundreds and/or thousands of otherwise 'Healthy Pieces of Software'.

 

Since 'Malware is the biggest reason for 'Software Problems' it is wise to 'Guard' your 'Computer System' by 'Blocking' all 'Malware' from entering your 'System'.  It is wise to buy and install 'Preventive Software' before you start to use your 'System' and then update your 'Preventive Software' regularly and 'Scan' your 'System' regularly in order to find and 'Neutralize' any 'New Viruses' that have 'Sneaked' in between scans.  Any 'Software' can become 'Corrupted' because of a number of 'Events'.  Most 'Corruption' of 'Software' other than 'Viruses', is caused by 'Hardware Failures'.  If you know that you don't have a permanent 'Hardware Failure', then suspect a 'Software Failure'.  If your 'Failure' is 'Sporadic' and 'Random', then suspect a number of 'Failing Pieces' that may be 'Infected' by the 'Work' of an intrusive piece of 'Malware.  If your 'Failure' always occurs while you are in a 'Specific' 'Process' then suspect 'Specific Corrupted Software'.

 

Resolve/Answer to Help Desk # 1 - Computer Freezes/Halts

 

3.  Major Problems (Environmental) - Failing/Malfunctioning Hardware/Software

 

NOTE - Any Problem/Failure can be either 'Intermittent (Temporary/Recurring)' or 'Perminent (Solid/Hard)' in nature.  Any 'Problem/Failure' that is not quickly 'Re-Bootable' or 'Re-Startable' should be considered a 'Perminent (Solid/Hard)' failure.  Individuals who are not 'Professional Level Technicians' cannot 'Resolve' these types of 'Problems/Failures'.  If/When a 'Computer System' 'Freezes/Halts' and 'Re-Boots/Re-Starts' to run again it can be considered a 'Glitch' until it fails a 'Second Time'.  The 'Second Failure' within an hour or so makes it an 'Intermittent Failure'.  If these Failures/Freezes/Halts are allowed to happen with great frequency, your 'Computer System' will eventually get very confused and will refuse to 'Re-Boot or Re-Start' and the 'Intermittent Failure' will become a 'Perminent (Solid/Hard) Failure'.  You should have your 'Computer System' repaired before the 'Problem/Failure' is such that it becomes even more costly to repair.  Four things to remember about 'Computer Problems'.  1.  The 'Computer System' cannot and will not repair itself.  2.  Computer problems never get better, they will only get worse.  3.  Computers cost money when you buy them and they will cost money when you have to repair them.  4.  The 'Life Cycle' of today's 'Computer Systems' is about 3 years therefore, if your 'System' is older than three years or so and your warranty has run out when it breaks, consider buying a new 'System' for $500.00 rather than spending $300.00 to fix the old one.

 

 Environmental Problems are 'Manifest' in three areas of concern.  They are as follows and are listed in order of 'Frequency of Occurrence'.

 

1A.  Voltage - External

 

1.  Low Voltage

2.  High Voltage

3.  'Dirty' Voltage

1.  'Spikes'

2.  'Ripples'

3.  'Sags'

4  'Surges'

5.  'Power Outages'

 

1B.  Voltage - Internal

 

1.  Bad Fan(s)

2.  Failed Components

 

2A.  Temperature - External

 

1.  High Temperature - Over 75 degrees F. Ambient

2.  Low Temperature - Under 60 degrees F. Ambient

3.  Spiking Temperature

 

 

   2B.  Temperature - Internal

 

1.  High Temperature - Usually caused by Bad/Stalled Fan

2.  High Temperature - Sometimes caused by other Failed Electrical Components

 

3.  Dirty/Dusty Environment - External/Internal

 

1.  Dust/Particulates

2.  Lint/Carpet/Paper Fibers

 

NOTE - All 'Environmental Problems can and should be resolved as soon as possible.  Left unattended', 'Environmental Anomalies' will destroy your 'Computer System'.  External 'Environmental Problems' are resolved by rectifying/repairing the problem externally to the 'Computer System'.  Internal 'Environmental Problems' are resolved by rectifying/repairing the problem internally/within the 'Computer System'.  You cannot 'Short-Cut' repairs that resolve 'Environmental Problems'.  If you do not wish to purchase a 'New System' every few months, then you will 'FIX ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES'.

 

 

Final Analysis/Resolve/Answer # 1

 

It is my opinion that very few real 'Computer Problems' can or will be resolved by a 'Novice'.  This problem normally called 'Computer Crash, Computer Freeze, Computer Halt, or 'Computer Glitch' is almost always a real problem.  It will almost always reoccur and it will probably never go away.  As a matter of fact, it will almost always get worse until your 'Computer System' will not recover.  At the point of no recovery, you will invariably loose all of your 'Data'.  Data is all 'Information' stored in 'Memory' or on your 'Hard Drive'.  Data is all of the 'Pieces' mentioned in the 'Software' section above plus all of your personal collection of 'Documents', 'Emails', 'Photos', 'Audio (Music)', and 'Video (Movies), 'Games', and Etc., Etc., Etc..  Some people think that 'Backups' are too expensive.  When they have lost all of their 'Data', they sing a different tune.

 

It is again my opinion that if you can't afford a 'Backup', then you can't afford a 'Computer System'.  One will not survive without the other.  There are hundreds of inexpensive ways to 'Backup' your 'Data'.  Let me know what kind of 'System' you have and I will advise you of the least expensive 'Backup Method' for your 'System'.

 

Be Defensive.  Be Preventive.  When you buy your 'System', buy everything you need.  You will never go back to spend the extra money after your 'System' has been running for a few months and that is exactly when you will need the 'Protective Tools'.

 

Here is how you approach this problem.  As soon as your 'System' comes back from it's first 'Crash', do a thorough 'Backup'.  When your 'System' 'Crashes' the second time, 'Backup' any new data since the last 'Crash' and get ready to spend some $$$$ to fix the 'Problem'.  Anyone can accomplish 'Basic Checks'.  First of all, if your 'System' starts beeping after a 'Crash', be thankful.  Those 'Beeps' are a 'Code' that will tell the 'Professional Technician' where to start looking for the 'Problem'.  If you have a knowledgeable 'Computer Buddy', you may want to call him/her.  If either you or your 'Computer Buddy' do not feel comfortable going 'Inside', you should go no further.  If you are 'OK' with the 'Skins' off and 'Power' on, then you should 'Check' to see if all of the 'Fans' work.  If any 'Fan' is not 'Turning' when 'Power' is on, stop, power down, and call a 'Professional Repairman'.  Do not run your 'System' without proper cooling, even for just a few minutes.  If a 'Fan' is out, the next thing to go is the 'Power Supply' and then the 'CPU Chip' and then 'Discrete Components', and then 'Various Chips' and at a point in time your 'Motherboard' could actually 'Flame Out'.  A visual inspection may show that 'Dust and Lint' have caused component failure.  With 'Power Off and Power Cord Removed' remove all 'Environmental Problems'.  You can buy 'Compressed Air in a Can' from many retailers.  Use low pressure air to remove 'Dust/Lint', replace covers and try again.  Again, with power off, check all connections.  If your system's fans are running, if it is clean inside, and if all connections look good and your system is still no-op, it is definitely time to call a 'Professional Repairman'.

 

Do Not Try To Repair Your Own Computer.  The most dangerous thing in all households is 'Electricity'.  Many people die each year from simple household electrical shock. 

 

     

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