At some point every computer user comes across a problem with their computer that causes the system to run slow, freeze, crash and cause major headaches. Though your first instinct may be to panic, or even curse rather loudly and frequently, it is best to remain calm and try to troubleshoot the problem. Listed below are some tips on troubleshooting issues with a computer. This is not a complete list, nor is it guaranteed to fix your problem, but it is good place to start and maybe, just maybe, you can fix the problem yourself!
Review error logs.
Not all applications have create an error when there are issues but for the software that does many times these logs can be helpful when trying to resolve the problem. Microsoft Windows also has a section for logging called the Event Viewer that includes entries about that include errors, changes, and information about applications, security and the operating system.
Check for updates to the software.
Software manufacturers are constantly patching and updating their software packages to make fix problem or issues with the software. Many software vendors include a update option in the Help menu which will allow you to quickly look for an update. If you software does not have this option the contact the manufacturer or check their website.
Check to see if any updates have been installed.
Though updates are publish to help fix existing problems there are instances when the update or patch will cause issues on a system. Even though patches are tested before release it is impossible for a vendor to test ever possible scenario as each user has their system configured differently.
If you suspect that an update or patch is causing the issue the quickest way to test is to remove the update and see if the issue still occurs. If it is not possible or easy to rollback the update then contact the manufacturer to check their website.
Look at running processes to make sure they are all legitimate processes.
This can be a time consuming task but many viruses can be detected by looking at the list of running processes. There are cases when virus software does not detect threats on your system so you need to play detective to see if are infected.
Many of the tasks listed will have odd names or names that make it difficult to determine what the process is for. I find the best way to determine what each process is doing it to search for the filename on the Internet. This will help narrow down which processes you need and which you can either get rid of or can be a virus.
Check online forums.
There is a good chance that you are not the first person to come across the error or problem. Many times other people have had the same problem and have posted the solution online. The same holds true for the manufacturer when they have an issue - many times they will post the solution on their website.
The quickest method for trying to find the solution online is to type your symptoms or error messages into a search engine (I personally prefer Google but any search engine will work). This should (hopefully) bring back some hits on possible solutions on your problem but if not try modify the search term or post your issue on a discussion board to get ideas from the Internet community.
Though these tips may not solve you problem they should give you starting point for troubleshooting your computer and hopefully you can expand on them to become a troubleshooting master!