Computer problems are a fact of life. It is common knowledge that PCs (personal computers) will eventually crash and burn, but most PCs are built to last at least 10 years, with “open” upgrade capabilities that can improve memory and CPU speed. However, most warranties are for no more than two years and by then performance speed has likely slowed down. The majority of PC problems are due to simple owner-operator maintenance neglect.
PC owners should regularly clean their registry, empty cache files and update software. Five-year-old machines are typically still in good order if diligent maintenance is done. Generally, a visit to Start/Accessories/System Tools (in Windows XP) does the trick. Disk cleanup and disk defragmentation usually take a few hours and are well worth the down time. The tools needed to check your system (computer management and system performance) are under Administrative Tools.
Perform a few diagnostic steps to clean up spyware, which causes many system lockups. There are shareware anti-spy programs on the market that load the basic software onto your PC for free and have premium upgrades for a charge. Three reputable programs are Ad-aware, Cyber Patrol and Spybot.
Freeze and Crash
When your computer cannot find an updated driver, it will lock up and freeze. Hardware drivers should be updated on a regular basis. It also helps to augment your computer’s RAM by increasing your PC’s virtual memory. (See Resources below)
Blue Screens and Unplanned Auto-boots
Hardware issues can also cause computer problems. Attribute these problems to fading power supplies or defective parts, including cooling fans. Keep the fan cleaned and make sure all cables and plugs are tightly connected. If all of this fails, see the "Blue Death Screen" resource below.
Clicking Sounds and Vibrations
This is another hardware issue. Noises like clicking, squealing, whirling or whining might come from damaged electronic components. Remove the computer case and let the computer run to see if you can find the problem. Save yourself some money and fix it yourself if you can, but your best bet is to call a technical expert if you’re not confident with internal computer repair.