7 computer repairs to try before calling for service

photo of person checking cable on laptop

We occasionally get calls for computer repair when the fix is fairly simple but unknown to the customer.  Below is a list of 7 computer repairs to try before calling for service that could help you save money. We can’t list every fix but here are solutions to some of the most common problems.

If you are uncomfortable with any of these instructions or if you have questions, please call us.

1. Is it plugged in and turned on?

This computer repair seems obvious but often we over-look the simplest solutions.  There are some common reasons the computer or monitor may have become unplugged. Maybe you were moving furniture or your child unplugged the power cord by crawling over it. Perhaps the last person to use the computer turned it off and you’re expecting it to wake from sleep. There are many reasons it could happen.

In addition to checking if it is plugged into the power outlet, be sure to check the back of the computer to make sure the power cable is firmly seated into the computer.

2. Check your surge protector

If your computer is plugged into a surge protector, and it should be, be sure to check the surge protector to make certain that the power switch is turned on.

If the power switch is turned on and you are not getting any power, try putting the power cord into a different outlet on the surge protector. It’s possible for one or some of the outlets on the surge protector to fail while other ones still work.

If that doesn’t work, try plugging the computer directly into the wall outlet.

3. Is your computer overheating?

All computers require unobstructed air flow to keep cool. Computers will overheat quickly if you keep them in an enclosed cabinet as the hot air will simply recirculate and get hotter. Many desks come with these cabinets and we recommend that you do not use them or leave the door open.

Dust and pet hair often accumulate and clog fans and cooling fins leading to overheating on both desktop and laptop computers. This may require a service by a certified computer repair technician.

If your computer runs a short time and then locks up or shuts down, it could be overheating.

This is one of the most over-looked of the 7 computer repairs to try before calling for service.

4. Turn it off and turn it back on

This one goes all the way back to the 1990’s. If Windows stopped working or started behaving badly, the fix was to simply reboot the computer or shut it down and restart it.

This method often works even today because the files in memory can be corrupted, even in sleep mode. Rebooting the PC will reinstall a fresh set of working files.

We’ve also noticed that when Microsoft installs updates in the background,  it will want to reboot the computer and will usually ask. You may be busy and ignore the pop-up.  After awhile you notice the computer is running sluggish or behaving strange. Try rebooting the computer or shut it down and restart it.

5. Blank Screen

If you have power but a blank screen with nothing on it, here are some steps to try.

If the computer is a laptop, turn it off. Remove the power cord. If it is an older model, remove the external battery. Press down and hold the power button for 30 seconds. This will remove any excess “flea” power inside the laptop. Reinsert the battery and reinsert the power cable. Turn it on.

Most newer laptops have batteries that cannot be removed. If this is the case for you, there should be a hole the size of a pin on the bottom of laptop to reset them.

If you have a desktop computer, check your video cable and make sure it is fully seated into the monitor and the computer. Make sure the power cable is fully seated into the monitor and that the monitor is plugged in. You can try attaching the monitor to another computer to determine if the monitor has died.

There are myriad reasons for this problem. The solutions presented here cover the most common causes.

6. Internet Connection Check

If you are having trouble with only one website, then the problem is most likely being caused by that company’s web hosting server. Contact them by phone and ask. It could be down for service.

If you can’t get online to any website, check to see if you are connected.

In the lower right corner of the Windows taskbar, look for a globe icon. If you see a globe icon, you are not connected to your Internet Service Provider (ISP), which may be Cox, Comcast, Verizon or some other ISP.

There are a variety of reasons for this but you can check some essentials before calling.

Check the gateway or router provided by the ISP. Is it plugged in and turned on? If it is, try disconnecting the power for one minute and then reconnecting the power. Wait five minutes and then  see if you can get online.

If you are connected with a cable instead of wireless, check the back of your computer and make sure your ethernet cable is fully seated into the port. This cable has a clear connector with a tab, similar to a phone cord connector. It must be pushed in all the way until it clicks. The same applies at the router.

Your computer may be connected wirelessly. If you use an external USB wireless adapter, unplug it and reboot the computer. Wait until Windows opens and then reinsert the USB wireless adapter. Wait a few minutes for Windows to re-activate the driver.

If you do not have an external wireless adapter or if the reinsertion didn’t work, you need to check the gateway or router as described above.

If none of these work, please contact your ISP for free assistance.

7. Windows Updates

This tip is about understanding the nature of updates in Windows 10 and Windows 11. Windows 10 and Windows 11 absolutely require many updates from Microsoft. These updates arrive weekly, sometimes more often.

Some updates are very large and significantly change the operating system to make it more secure. Other updates are smaller patches to repair bugs.

These updates should not be ignored. If you get a message advising you to update or to restart your computer, do so ASAP.

Some updates could take an hour or more to install depending on the speed of your computer and the speed of your internet connection. Please don’t turn off the computer while it is updating. Wait and let it do it’s thing.

If your computer has been running for many hours, more than four, and the update has still not installed, disconnect the power cable for a few seconds and then reconnect the power cord and turn it back on. The update should resume.

If your computer isn’t behaving, you can try to force an update. Updates often fix problems. Click here for instructions.