Hardware is the visible part of a computer that has a physical structure, such as keyboard, mouse or the monitor. Software is the set of programmed instructions that are given to the hardware to perform a particular task, thus acting as a guide to the hardware. For eg: MS Word
Before one can address hardware issues, it is imperative to understand how hardware problems manifest. Weird error messages that flash out can be addressed with ease.
1. Dead Hardware – Simply put any unused or dead piece of hardware. A faulty audio card, a non functional memory stick, which prompt the operating system to flash error messages concerning their malfunction.
2. Hardware Functional Defects – Being the most difficult type of problem, an occasional error message from a hardware component will not help the user to address the problem in its totality as he is helpless with pertinent information to troubleshoot. This is because of occasional faults. Some errors do not lead to a functionality issue but cause data to corrupt or sometimes hamper the performance of hardware.
3. Driver issues – Usually similar to hardware malfunctions, these are much more consistent in their error messages. Bad drivers which do not correspond with the hardware sometimes can lead to serious issues like kernel crashes, blank screens, white and black screens, not to mention many more such weird effects.
The following tips help identify and trouble shoot a computer hardware issue with regard to the specific hardware components.
1. Power Supply – Computer booting (starting) problems can easily be traced to power supply connections. Identified as the most important piece of hardware that can fail in a computer, the power supply is the first to be checked for random lockups, spontaneous reboots and some serious error messages. Power supply can be tested manually using a multi meter or using a power supply tester, both of which are effective ways.
2. Hard Drive – Failure of hard drive causes files to go corrupt. Prolonged delay in accessing files or during saving a file to the hard drive are the notable manifestations. Another evident instance witnesses a complete non-booting of windows.
3. CPU – Problems with the CPU result in the computer not booting at all. An overheated CPU leads to a blue-screen when it is being used to play a game.
4. RAM – Failure on part of the short term storage RAM will lead to application crashes, blue screens, and file corruption.
5. Graphics Card – Graphical errors are evident when the graphics card fails. Situations causing the graphics card to overheat will lead to crashing of the graphics driver. This may also result in computer freezing under load.
6. Fans – Failure of even one of the computer fans leads to components getting overheated manifested in the form of CPU or graphics card problems.
7. Motherboard – Problems with motherboard are believed to very tough to diagnose. Occasional blue screens or similar problems of display can sometimes be attributed to faulty motherboards.
This bird’s eye view of hardware malfunctions will aid in diagnosing and addressing hardware issues, which are at times overwhelming to the common user.