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Monday, May 18, 2009

Reasons why your PC crash

A crashing PC is the last thing we want when we are doing something important in our computer. To understand why this happens, we must know the reasons why.

1. Bad/Missing drivers - Drivers are needed to enable all PC components to function normally. If one device or hardware is missing it, problems can occur. You can inspect this by going to the device manger. Right click on My Computer ->properties ->hardware tab ->device manager. If you are missing a driver you can either have windows to search for the driver automatically (which does not work all the time) or find your driver yourself. To find a driver, just use a search engine and type in the device name followed by the word "drivers". ex. nvidia 9800Gt drivers. If you know the manufacturer, its better to download the drivers from their website. Problems in drivers can also cause blue screen of death or BSOD.

2. IRQ Conflicts - IRQ are interrupt requests and each device in your computer has a range of number that it can use to communicate properly. If two devices have the same IRQ, then a term hardware conflict will occur. This will cause a BSOD or a sudden restart of your PC. To determine an IRQ conflict, go to device manager (follow the same steps above) and if devices have a yellow "!" in them then it could be an IRQ problem. How to fix this problem? You can first try to update the drivers of the conflicting device. If this doesn't solve the problem you can switch the slots (if the device uses a PCI slot) of the device. Also make sure that you have installed your motherboard drivers, the drivers are usually included when you bought your pc. If you lost your installation cd, you can also opt to find the drivers via a search engine. Just indicate the manufacturer and model name of your motherboard. If you don't know the name of your motherboard then you can use a free tool called cpu-z which provides a detailed summary of your system.

3. Faulty RAM - Another culprit for a PC crash is a faulty ram. It is a random access memory used by your PC for temporary storage purposes. It can cause BSOD or sudden restart. To know if you have a faulty ram you can use memtest "a freely available tool and can be downloaded here" to test your ram. It is adviced to run the tool for at least 8 hours to determine a problem in your RAM. If you have 2 ram cards installed, it is also important that the two have the same speed like "533mhz or 800mhz". It is also advisable but not nessecary to have the same manufacturer.

4. Bad Hard drive - Hard drive problems could also cause a PC crash. It is important to regularly check hard drives for errors. Errors can occur when a computer is turned off abruplty by ex. power failure. To do this , go to "My computer" ->right click on your drive ex.drive C: and click properties ->tools tab ->and click check now button. It is also important to defragment your drive regularly. Usually a defrag every six months is already sufficient.

5. Video card problems - Video card problems is also the most common issue in a PC crash. It is important that you regularly update your video card drivers and overclocking your video card (used for faster performance in games) is "not recommended" and often cause serious problems if over done. While the most common cause of video card problem is the driver, there are also other possible causes. One is overheating of video card, it is important to install a fan (if not provided by the manufacturer) or cooling system (heat sink) in your video card and must have proper ventilation in your CPU casing. Another is power shortage. Newer and advanced video cards require a lot of power and sometime a separate power cord. If you intend to use your PC for gaming a PSU "power supply unit" of at least 550+ watts is highly recommended.

6. Overheating - If your CPU is not properly ventilated. An overheat may occur and damage hardware components. It is important to install at least one main fan for your PC in normal use and at least 2 if you primarily use it for gaming. Other options is also available like water cooling systems and heat sinks.

7. Power supply shortage - Your CPU can also be underpowered if you have too many devices requiring power. If you have a powerful, branded PSU of 600 to 700 watts this wouldn't be a problem at all.But if you don't want to change your PSU you can remove some devices: Remove lighting in your CPU that is only used for display ex. neon lights; remove excess fans specially those with lighting effects; remove extra dvd-drives that are not in use.

8. Software problems - Certain software can also cause a PC crash. This is obvious if a PC crash is observed when starting a certain application or you can visit the system log details or event viewer for more information, go to control panel -> administrative tools -> event viewer. This problem is usaully solved by reinstalling the software application.

9. Viruses - A virus can also cause your system to crash. It is highly important to have an anti-virus installed in your system. There are also free antivirus software like AVG and avira that you can use. You can also use a spyware cleaner like the freely available spybot

10. Loose/damage cables - Cables can also contribute to a PC crash. If you encounter a fatal exception or a BSOD and your hardware device is functioning well then it may be the cable. Example for this is the IDE cable or SATA cable for your hard drive. Try swapping a cable from a friends PC that is known to work porperly and try if it solved the problem.

11. Registry errors - As we install and uninstall applications, there is a chance that our registry has some invalid entries that causes errors. You also have the option to buy a registry cleaning software but beware of scareware applications out there. One software I trust and personally use is tuneup utilities and it can be bought here. It has other loads of features as well.