If you are connected to the Internet, viruses tend to cause a lot of malfunctions in the operation of a computer. But what else can go wrong with a computer, on the physical, mechanical side of things?
Let’s have a look at a few of the common faults you may encounter:
- Hard drive failure, or bad sectors preceding hard drive failure. The hard drive cannot read or write the data onto it’s disks because the material they are made out of is physically breaking up and flaking off. Files become corrupted, data loss and operation faults are evident.
- RAM memory failure. Can happen if the computer has overheated, or the RAM chips are of inferior quality. Usually the computer won’t start at all with this fault.
- Modem failure. Usually due to lightning or power/mains surges. You cannot dialup to the internet.
- Lightning strikes in the near proximity of your computer can blow the fuses in your PC’s power supply. (How do I know? Because it happened to my PC!!)
- Computer “hangs” (stops functioning or freezes) due to incompatible hardware or an intermittent fault in the hardware. It can also hang due to corrupt or badly written software, especially drivers.
- CMOS battery goes flat. After 5 to 10 years of use, the little battery on the motherboard can go flat. The computer will still start up, but then you get error messages. Replace the battery, reconfigure, ands all will be well.
- Fuses can blow. There are 2 or 3 fuses in the built in power supply, and also a few in the screen/monitor. Do not attempt to replace these unless you are a qualified technician, as there are voltages of up to 1000 volts in the power supply, and up to 27000 volts in the screen, and these voltages are still present with it switched off and unplugged from the wall socket. Even after being unplugged for a day or two, it may still kill you. So rather let a tech do it for you.
- Computer runs out of memory. When you load a new, big program, like MS Office, if your RAM memory is too small the computer will try to compensate by madly swopping your programs from memory to hard disk and back again. This takes a tremendous amount of computing power and hard drive work, and slows the computer down drastically.
On the software side:
- Programs can become corrupted over time, and cause intermittent random faults and can hang the computer.
- New programs can be incompatible with the computer or operating system, and can cause unusual operation or non operation.
- Mistakes by the operator or user, such as changing critical settings, can render the computer unusable.
- Viruses, trojans, worms and malicious software can compromise the correct operation of the PC.
These things sound a bit frightening, but in reality they don’t happen all that often. A few wise precautions, like keeping your system restore function switched on, making backups of your data, changing your CMOS battery every 5 years, using decent branded software and hardware, keeping your antivirus software up to date, and using surge protection equipment, should prevent most of these problems.
If you can afford it, try and get good quality hardware. It costs a bit more than the far eastern types of PC, but it definitely makes a big difference when you have a problem. Spares are easy to find, drivers are downloadable, and manuals are available.
So don’t worry. Enjoy your computer.
Like Mom says, “Be careful and have fun!”