Russ Harvey Consulting - Computer and Internet Services

Troubleshooting Hardware

Reboots, BIOS/UEFI, printers & drivers

Spontaneous Reboots | BIOS & UEFI | Printer Issues
Software & Drivers

A tablet displays a heart rhythm and has a stethoscope draped over it representing hardware diagnosis.

Checking for hardware issues can be troublesome because you may need to have replacement hardware to verify the problem is corrected. In most cases this is best done by a repair shop.

However, there are some items that can be verified before taking your computer in.

You'll also want to be sure that your computer data is backed up in case the computer fails completely.

Spontaneous Reboots

If your computer reboots spontaneously (without warning) it may be due to faulty or mis-matched RAM. Another potential cause is a faulty or inadequate power supply.

Test for Faulty RAM

If you have more than one stick of RAM in your computer you can try removing each stick in turn and test to see if that resolves the problem. Your computer is likely to run slower than it did, but you're just testing, not expecting to run your usual programs.

Don't Forget Safety

Remember to ensure that the computer is completely unplugged and that the power has drained before opening up the case. You'll also want to ground yourself to ensure that static electricity doesn't harm the sensitive components.

Test for Memory Issues

You can try the following utility to test for memory issues:

Replacing RAM

If you need to replace or upgrade your RAM, you'll need to ensure it is compatible with both your computer and with any RAM that will be installed with it. These sites can guide you:

Check the Power Supply

The Power Supply Wattage Calculator can help to determine if your power supply is up to the task. If it is inadequate, buy a new and more powerful power supply that will work for your computer. It is better to have too much capacity than too little.

Don't forget that most USB devices draw their power from your computer's power supply (unless they have their own power supply indicated by an electrical cord).

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BIOS & UEFI Issues

If you're having difficulty booting (or if certain hardware doesn't work properly) you may have to make changes in the BIOS or UEFI.

Most modern hardware is UEFI-based. BIOS is found on legacy equipment.

This is for advanced users only. You could cripple your computer if you choose the wrong settings.

UEFI

UEFI is replacing BIOS in modern computers and provides hardware-based security. Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 are designed to take advantage of this new technology to speed up the system startups and shutdowns.

However, legacy Windows 7 and earlier systems will not start if you choose UEFI. Look for some legacy setting like “Other OS” rather than Windows UEFI mode.

BIOS

The BIOS is the legacy method to configure the initial startup of the computer by checking for hard drives, RAM, audio, video, mouse and other components before Windows loads. If it isn't properly configured, your system may not load at all or may load with some of these components disabled.

BIOS Updates

Updating the BIOS can give your computer new capabilities or allow it to work with newer hardware.

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Printer Issues

Printers can be troublesome when you can't figure out why they won't work.

Installation Issues

Installing the drivers and software necessary to run your printer on your computer can be unintuitive.

Driver Issues

Drivers for older printers or your operating system may not be listed. See Software & Drivers for help.

Many older models were designed before Windows 10 or 11 and the M1 Macs were released. If an update is unavailable, you probably cannot use that printer on that computer.

Inkjet Not Printing Properly

If your printer isn't printing everything on the page (e.g., one or more colours are missing) your printer may be out of ink, the inkjets may be clogged or the printheads misaligned.

Try printing a test page. Missing colours or misaligned print will indicate an issue.

Run the Software Utilities

Try using the cleaning process provided by the printer software. This is the easiest and least likely to cause damage to the printer or cartridge.

Clogged Ink Cartridges

If the inkjet cartridges are clogged (you can see the cartridge contains ink, but but it doesn't print) you can try taking out the cartridge and use a tissue dampened with warm water to gently clean the inkjet heads. Be sure not to touch the electonic parts of the cartridge.

Replace the Affected Cartridges

If the problem isn't resolved or if you damage the cartridge, install a new inkject cartridge.

Paper Jams

Be sure to clear out any jammed paper before proceeding. Even a small piece of leftover paper can cause the printer to jam continuously.

Align the Paper Correctly

Paper jams can be caused by loading paper the wrong way around.

Try running your fingers across both edges of the paper to determine which is the smoother side (the side that doesn't clump). The smooth side needs to be closest to where the paper enters the printer.

Scanning Failures

Canon and some other multifunction printers won't scan when even one ink cartridge needs replacing. The only solution is to purchase a new cartridge.

There appears to be no technical reason for this other than to force you to purchase new ink even if the device is no longer used as a printer. I recommend a stand-alone scanner for this reason.

Resetting Your Printer

Sometimes you need to reset your printer. The process differs by manufacturer.

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Software & Drivers

The process of determining the cause of a hardware problem can be complicated by software and driver issues.

Check the Software

If you are dealing with one of these issues, resolve it before seeking other solutions.

System Errors

Windows system errors can cause a computer to shutdown without warning.

Multiple Security Programs

Installing more than one security product can cause issues.

Malware

Malware and other infections can cause your system to behave badly.

Browser Extensions

Malicious or broken browser extensions can cause your browser to crash. Try these suggestions in order:

  1. Remove any unsupported or unverified extensions.
  2. Ensure remaining extensions are updated.
  3. Try temporarily removing any remaining extensions.
  4. Try refreshing your browser (a clean install using default settings without extensions) to see if that resolves the issue.

Check the Drivers

Drivers are software that communicates with hardware.

Outdated Drivers

Outdated or buggy drivers can cause your computer to behave strangely. It may not recognize devices, hang when shutting down or simply not run efficiently.

Update Buggy Drivers

Newer drivers can offer more capabilities or fix bugs in earlier versions. Check Windows Update or open the Device Manager and search for newer drivers.

Replace Drivers

Alternatively, search for a suitable driver. Where possible, always download from the manufacturer's site, avoiding “sponsored” search results.

Driver Repositories

Using online driver repositories (like DriverGuide) can help you to find suitable drivers but is risky.

Avoid “Driver Update” Software

NEVER install driver update software or utilities recommended on these sites. This software could infect or otherwise cripple your computer.

If you've already installed such software and are having issues, uninstall the software then restart your computer to see if that fixes the issue.

Related Resources

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Updated: February 26, 2022