Episode 66: February 20, 2013
by Eric Escobar
This podcast will be the first in an ongoing series on the best way to troubleshoot your tech devices. I will be answering specific listener questions and explaining how to go about solving them in the easiest way possible.
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In today’s episode, I will talk about the different components of your computer. If you haven’t done so already, check out my earlier episode on the inner workings of your computer in order to get up to speed with what certain parts do.
The question for this episode comes from listener Peggy. She has been having problems watching any type of video on her computer, whether it’s on YouTube or a on a DVD. No matter the source of the videos, they consistently stutter or have momentary pauses, making watching them a totally unpleasant experience.
Now, I realize that you may not share this exact problem. But the steps I use to solve Peggy’s computer issue can be used across a broad range of tech problems.
Step #1: Google It
I’m going to be honest with you guys, when someone comes to me with a broken [insert your device here], one of the first things that I do is Google the problem. Even if it’s something I already know how to do, Googling the issue will refresh my mind! Much of my tech expertise actually never came from something I learned in the classroom; rather, I learned it from the mean streets of the internet.
If you are only a casual internet user, I suggest checking out my episode on How to Use Google like a Pro. It will speed up the time it takes for you to search for the solution to a problem.
Now back to Peggy’s issue. I searched Google for a simple fix to her problem. A few websites suggested that maybe her software wasn’t updated. Given Peggy’s computer problem, I didn’t think that this was the issue, but I checked just in case.
Step #2: Mind Map It
The next step is to break down the problem and isolate the causes for concern. For example, if only YouTube videos were stuttering, I would say to check your internet connection. Or if it were just a DVD that was causing the problem, then I would look more into the DVD player. However, in this situation it is both.
So what does that leave us with? Well we know that any type of video is affected, which leads me to believe it is a problem with the graphics card or the hard drive. The graphics card seems to be the main suspect because it is what controls what appears on the screen. The hard drive might also be a problem, but if Peggy hasn’t been experiencing any problems doing any other functions on her computer, then I would keep this as my secondary item to check.
Step #3: Check Your Hardware
And this is where it gets sticky. There’s a high possibility that the reason for Peggy’s poor video quality is some malfunctioning piece of hardware. The only way to test this theory is to check your hardware. Luckily, that doesn’t mean you need to take apart your computer and fiddle around with knobs and circuits. Nowadays, Windows and Apple computers have built-in software that will allow you to run diagnostics on your computer.
For Macs, you can use a utility such as Apple Hardware Test.
For Windows machines, the best thing to do is to pop in your operating system CD and reboot your computer. This will boot your computer from the CD which will also contain diagnostic software.
Depending on the results of your hardware test, you might be able to tell right away if it is the hard drive or the graphics card acting up. More often than not, these diagnostic tools will give you more information about the problem which you can then plug into Google to help find the solution.
With that, here are your 3 Quick and Dirty tips on how to troubleshoot your technology:
Do a few quick Google searches to see if there are any easy fixes to your problem (such as reloading software).
Mentally go over the different pieces of software or hardware that could be causing the issue.
If you think you are having a problem with a specific piece of hardware, use a built-in diagnostic utility to check if your hardware is working properly.
Well, that’s it for today! Be sure to check out all my earlier episodes at techtalker.quickanddirtytips.com. And if you have further questions about this podcast or want to make a suggestion for a future episode, post your comments on the Tech Talker Facebook page.
Until next time, I’m the Tech Talker, keeping technology simple!
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