4 DIY computer repairs: What’s okay and not okay to fix yourself

We’re aware that we’d been posting a lot about help for Mac users but what about Windows?  Today, we’re looking into helping Windows users with 4 DIY repairs you CAN do yourself, what’s ok to do and more importantly when to leave it alone and call in the professionals!

DIY Computer Repairs

Some problems, whilst appearing catastrophic, are treatable with a little research and a few minutes of work. Others, however, can be well beyond the capabilities of most computer users. So it pays to know when to do a little DIY. Have a look at some of the commonly occurring problems that a computer user can take care of, and which ones really need an expert’s touch.

Back-Up Before Doing Anything

If a computer is displaying odd or glitch behaviour, the first thing to do is find your important data and back it up.

This safeguards vital files against the worst possible scenario – the computer dies and takes all of your data with it. This could mean precious photographs, work documents, and any other number of important files. In the modern world, a good portion of a person’s life resides on their computer, so it is very important to make it safe.

The second reason for backing-up is to protect against the possibility that attempted repair might make the problem worse. Even those with a good knowledge of computers and repairs can make mistakes.

It is always a good idea to assume the worst and plan accordingly.

Malware and Viruses

Viruses are something that gets a lot of attention in the media. They are something that most people are aware of, but may not fully understand. They are a quick and easy way to illustrate the potential dangers of the internet and make for a provocative story.

When in the middle of casually browsing the internet, a virus or malware warning – red, maybe accompanied with a scary alarm, if you are lucky, however usually it sneaks in and gets to work silently, and you are none the wiser until things start going wrong.

Keeping an anti virus program up to date and scanning regularly should take care of these and there are many measures to cleanse a computer of an infection, with many freely available.

Three FREE solutions

Microsoft Security Essentials is the software that Windows provides free of charge. Other great free programs includeAvast and Malwarebytes Anti-Malware. Malwarebytes, for example, enables the user to select the ‘depth’ of the scan. It will do a quick scan or a deep scan. For a suspected virus or malware infection, it is ideal to go with a deep scan, which can reveal most infections and will automatically quarantine them.

Some viruses may burrow deep into the computer and are more troublesome to remove. A good plan of attack in this case is to start the computer in Safe Mode. This prevents Windows from booting any third-party software on start-up, and this includes a virus or malware.

To start in safe mode, follow these simple steps:  

  • Whilst the computer is booting, press F8.
  • This will bring up the Boot Menu.
  • Select Safe Mode and press Enter
  • Once in the Safe Mode, run the Virus scanner
  • Re-installing Windows

If your computer has gone very awry, reinstalling the operating system may be the only solution. Whilst this is a big step, it is not a very difficult process.

Depending on the severity of the problem and what the computer’s owner wants, there are varying levels of a Windows re-install. Some will keep programs and data remain in place, but the operating system gets a ‘spring clean’. The other option is a total clean slate – no programs, no files, just a shiny new install.

A repair installation is the former. It will install a fresh copy of windows over the old copy and, hopefully, remove any problems there were. It only takes around an hour, maybe less, and keep all programs and data in place. Needless to say, the advice to back everything up especially applies when re-installing an operating system. Most computers have a reinstall partition and your vendor will show you the way to reinstall your operating system from the manual, you’ve made a set of discs for disaster recovery when prompted when you bought it, right?

or old school with a USB or disc

  • Start up Windows, log into an Administrator Account
  • Disable firewalls or other security software. This may interfere with a repair installation if still active.
  • Click on Install Now. Windows will check for available updates
  • Accept the license agreement and click on Upgrade. The installation should begin shortly after
  • Enter the Windows Product Key. Install using Recommended Settings
  • On the Set Up Windows tab, select a Network
  • Windows will start up the home screen. From here run a Disk Clean up
  • Once completed. Activate Windows and be sure to restart anti-virus software and firewalls.

New Drivers

Sometimes, videos or audio just stop working. This can be a massive annoyance and a real problem, but is very easy to solve in the majority of cases.

A simple visit to Google can usually do wonders. Simply find the computer’s manufacturer and most will have a dedicated page, which contains all of the newer and older versions of drivers for specific models. It is then a simple matter of finding the right drivers, installing them, and that they should be the end of the problem.

When to See a Professional

Whilst a big number of computer problems appear much worse than they are, some simply need the attention of an expert.

          You’re not sure if you have backed up your data
          You can’t locate the drivers for your computer
          You’re not the administrator

When Files Disappear

Most users would agree that computers have become the household filing system for all kinds of important information and data. When that data starts disappearing of its own accord, it is time to seek a professional.

Randomly appearing and disappearing data is, clearly, a sign that something is drastically wrong. It could be a clue to a malfunctioning hard drive or a warning of a total system failure. Whilst the user cannot be sure of what it means, they can be sure that disappearing data is something to be worried about. If files are vanishing, seek professional help before everything that is important goes the same way.

A Total Crash

If a computer has gone dark and refuses to start, or starts but then suddenly crashes, the odds are a visit to the local computer expert is in order.

Computer behaviour such as this could be the sign of a faulty or loose connection, or it could be an of a much more serious problem. A computer that crashes without warning is obviously behaving outside of its normal function and could lead to total data loss or the death of the computer itself.

 

Many computer problems that appear major are within the capabilities of most users to solve. This, however, has its limits. If a computer is behaving strangely in its core functions – its memory or start up, then it is time for outside help.