Easy Fixes for a Crashed Computer

Crashes, when your computer freezes or displays a blue screen, seem to occur at the worst possible time. There are many reasons for a computer crash, but many are easy to fix with a little know-how.

Easy Fixes for a Crashed Computer

My computer has crashed

Install new software with automatic updating

Crashes can occur for many reasons, but it is possible to pinpoint and resolve the problem.

  • Review what you were doing just before the crash. Was the crash triggered by a certain task or a particular program? Restart the computer and try to replicate the exact circumstances of the crash to confirm the cause. If you have experienced this crash, so will have many other users, so use the power of the Internet to find a fix.
  • Make sure your system software is up-to-date. Apple and Microsoft issue regular updates that can be downloaded for free. Set Windows to download and install recommended updates automatically: go to Start -> Control Panel -> System and Security -> Turn Automatic Updating On. Mac OS X will periodically prompt you to download updates; review the list presented and download what you need.
  • Download the latest software drivers for your computer's internal cards and peripherals, such as hard disks and scanners.
  • If you have recently installed new software onto your computer, it may be that your machine isn't equipped to run it. Check compatibility on the Internet; enter your make and model of computer, plus the software and its version number, as terms into a search engine, such as Google. This should reveal any problems other users have had with this particular hardware/software combination. You may need to upgrade your RAM to remedy the problem.

How to prevent crashes

Make the Internet your friend

Many computer problems are specific to a particular combination of software and hardware; unfortunately, there are millions of permutations! Try searching the Internet for solutions to your problems; there is much wisdom out there, but also misinformation. Look for a consensus between different sites, and give most weight to established sites.

Make it last

  • Keep your original software disks and all the documentation that came with your computer. You may need to reinstall the system software at a later date.
  • Many modern computers, especially laptops, are not supplied with such disks. They instead exist as disk images, hidden away in a secure area of the hard drive. The machine's manual will explain how these images can be transferred to a blank CD or DVD. Do this now, if you haven't already.
  • Note the product key — the code that comes with your system software disk. You'll need this if you ever have to reinstall your system software. It is often printed on a label attached to your computer or on the sleeve of the system software disk.
  • Shut down safely and correctly. In Windows, go to Start -> Turn Off Computer; in Mac OS X, select Shut Down from the Apple menu. Only then should you turn off the power. If you routinely shut down by killing the power, you may corrupt the data on your hard disk.
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