What causes computer hardware problems?
Overall, computers are incredibly fast and reliable devices. The typical personal computer can perform from several million to several billion calculations in a second, day after day, year in and year out. They achieve all this speed and reliability with solid state technology. A solid state device uses the electrical properties of semiconductors and avoids using moving parts or relying on the electrical properties of a vacuum. Probably the best known solid state device is a transistor, although there are several others. Although solid state technology is both fast and reliable, it can and does fail. Solid state devices are sensitive to excessive heat and voltage levels, and when a failure occurs in a solid state device it can many times be traced back to either an overheating or power surge event. Computers, however, are not 100% solid state. There are moving parts involved; the most obvious example is the keyboard - although mice, hard drives and optical drives (both CD and DVD) are other prime examples. Anything with physically moving parts can wear out, get jammed, etc. By far the computer component with the most moving parts, and therefore the most prone to failure, is the keyboard. Luckily they are also one of the easiest things to replace (unless it's a laptop keyboard). The second most common area for hardware problems is the hard drive. The hard drive is both packed with electronics and at the same time a mechanical device, so it can be damaged by either excessive heat or power surges, or it can just wear out. Fixing problems with a hard drive or replacing it can be tricky simply because the value of the hard drive lies in the data it holds - all your pictures, downloaded music, word processing documents, tax returns and whatever else you've stored on your computer through the years.
GENERAL HARDWARE TROUBLESHOOTING TIPS
Regardless of the problem there are a few steps that must be taken whenever troubleshooting a hardware problem. These may seem rather insulting to most people, but one must never forget to do them; if they are not done you might very well waste allot of time and possibly create a new problem from fiddling around in your computer chasing down a phantom. Here are some quick steps: 1. Power Cords - Make sure that all of the power cords are firmly in place on all of the devices that could possibly be causing or attributing to the symptoms you are experiencing (i.e. If nothing shows up on the monitor make sure that the cords are attached to both the monitor and the computer itself). Then trace the cords back to the wall and make sure that the other end of the cord is attached to a power outlet or surge protector. 2. Outlet Power - It is not uncommon to blow a fuse; if the outlet in question is not receiving power than you should not expect any of the devices connected to the computer to receive power. You can test this simply by looking at the device and seeing if any LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) are lit. If there are no LEDs lit, try pluggin in a device that you know works into the outlet, such as a clock or radio. 3. Power Button - This step goes hand-in-hand with the last step. Many people don't think to check for this because many computer devices stay on all of the time (i.e. monitors, printers, power supplies), and as such do not check the power button. Also, some devices have two power switches on them, and both must be in the "on" position in order for the device to work (i.e. there is a power button both on the front, and on the back of most computers). 4. Communication Connections - Once you've settled that the power to your devices is fine, the next step is to make sure that the device has all of the connections needed for it to communicate. This step consists of making sure that these cables are firmly connected at each end, and that they are connected at the correct port/interface. Do not forget to check internal connections; if...
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