Having A Bad Hard Drive Day? What YOU Can Do, Before Calling The Help Desk

There's quite a few things that anybody -- even the positively screwdriver-phobic -- can do to resolve common PC troubles.

If the computer is completely dead the first thing to do is to make sure that power cord plug is connected. If the wires lead to a power strip and/or UPS battery, see that those plugs are in and that the switch is set to on.

Plug a lamp or radio into the same outlet to make sure that electric is present. You might need an electrician, not a PC technician!

If the power LED lights up on the PC, check to see that the monitor is hooked up to an outlet and its other wire is plugged into the computer.

Whenever performance starts getting erratic, click on START and then SHUTDOWN. Usually RESTART THE SYSTEM will clean up the mess. Now and then, if the problem persists, it'll be necessary to do a SHUT DOWN. This will power off the computer. Put the power switch on to start the PC up again.

Here's a good a place as any to mention it. Don't EVER just turn a WINDOWS 95 system off. You need to do the START-SHUTDOWN procedure for the machine to go off in an orderly manner. If you keep killing the power while WINDOWS 95 is running, you are sure to get a regular three ring circus of corrupted files.

When a computer is abruptly turned-off, either by mistake or a power outage, WINDOWS 95 will insist on running SCANDISK. Very often SCANDISK will find one or more corrupted files. I direct the utility to FIX the errors, but to SKIP UNDO and to DELETE the crippled data.

Here, We See The Local And The Network Drives
In a networked environment, see if you are actually logged into the network. Double click on MY COMPUTER. If only the local drives (the ones installed in your own system) are listed or the local drives and a single, unfamiliar network drive, then none of the network's resources will be available. You won't be able to print to networked printers or get files and load applications from the server. NETSCAPE and other browsers will not be able to reach the Internet.

If you are left out of the pool, network-wise, first see if other users are also unable to login. If everybody is out, then the problem is with the network itself, not any individual machine. If everybody else is OK, then try the START -- SHUTDOWN -- RESTART routine. If that does work, next look to see that the cable is connecting the PC to the network. The ends of the cable are generally similar to a phone plug, but a little bigger. The cable itself can be either round or flat. IF the cable was out, you probably will have to again RESTART the computer.

Don't confuse the WINDOWS login with the NETWORK login. The NETWORK login should come first. This actually wires you into the network. The WINDOWS login should follow. The WINDOWS login basically concerns individual user preferences. If the network login does not come up when the system starts, then the network client software did not detect the server.

On newer PCs, there are LEDs by the network connector on the computer. These LEDs light up if the computer's network connection is intact.

The most common reason for a UPS (battery power backup) to start beeping, is when the plug gets pulled out. Make sure that the connection is good between the wire and the wall outlet. If this is not the trouble, the next suspect is the faulty wiring. Call an electrician to correct the wiring. Do not pull the plug on the UPS and then plug the computer wire directly into the building electric. The UPS is alerting you to a problem. Getting rid of the UPS gets rid of the warning, not the hazard. Operating a computer from a faulty wiring is a good way to destroy the system!

It's always a good idea to let a PC savvy co-worker take a quick look at the problem. It's very likely a minor snag that's just not obvious to you at the moment. But do beware of what I call brotherinlawitis! Don't let anybody start playing around with settings or hardware unless you're certain that they are authorized to do so.

If you don't have a virus checker, it's simply a matter of time before your system is infected.