Diagnosing and Troubleshooting Computer Hardware
What is Hardware?
Are these terms familiar to you? Monitor, RAM, CD drive, CPU, graphic cards are all hardware,
or more accurately, computer hardware. These components make up a computer, working
together with computer software to make a computer work.
Simply put, hardware is the tangible parts of your computer, parts you can touch, feel and so on.
As mentioned before, hardware and software work together to form a fully functional system,
theoretically. However, rarely do you get a fully functional system all the time. There will
almost certainly be malfunction of hardware, be it within the electronic circuits or even the
whole component itself. Sometimes, the originating factor of the hardware failure is not the
components of the system itself, but due to outside factors such as environmental disasters
like fire, earthquakes and lightning storm.
Recovery of failed hardware components is not a big problem by itself. It is basically
identifying and replacing the problematic component. However, hardware failures are most
deadly, when it affects daily routine and affecting critical personal or business data. This is
especially true of the most important component of a computer system when it comes to
storage of data, the hard disk.
The following is a list of common hardware failures:
• RAM Failures
• Power Connector
• Hard Disk
• LCD Failures
• USB Box
Bad RAM is somehow harder to diagnose as similar symptoms may be caused by software
problems, other hardware problems or even motherboard failure. However if you experience
any of these symptoms, users should check for bad RAM before attempting any other troubleshooting.
• Windows doesn't start showing different error messages each time.
• Windows crashes (blue screen) or freezes frequently.
• Windows crashes as soon as you try to start a program.
• Unexplained random crashes and freezes without error messages.
The common weak spot on any laptop is the DC power jack. If someone trips over the power
adapter cable while it is still connected to the laptop, there is a high possibility that the
power jack will get severely damaged.
On most laptops, the DC power jack is soldered directly to the motherboard and there are
only three or four small pins holding it in place, which makes the power jack rather weak. Any
sideways pulling of the DC power cord while attached to the laptop will usually dislodge at
least one of these pins, breaking the solder around it. Modern laptops use quite a lot of
power, from about 70W to 120W or even more. The bad electrical connection from the
dislodged pin will cause sparks and heating that will eventually burn a hole through the
motherboard and can even be a fire hazard.