Simple Computer Troubleshooting Techniques

Don't panic

Many computer problems appear more serious than they really are and can be fixed, sometimes in a matter of minutes.

Make sure there really is a problem

Sad Mac screen
  1. Can't start your computer? Check the basics.
    1. Examine the monitor cables and power cords to make sure they're plugged in securely. 
    2. If you're using a power strip or a surge protector, make sure it's plugged in, turned on, and test it with something you know that works.
    3. Try plugging something that you know works directly into the electrical outlet to make sure there isn't a power problem.
    4. Check to see if your monitor is on. Sounds silly, but it has solved the problem more than once. The monitor's power light should be on. Try another monitor.
  2. Can't get on to the network or the Internet?
    1. Check to see if anyone else around you is having a similar problem. If so, there may be a service outage.
    2. Check to make sure the network cable is connected to both the computer and the wall or phone.
    3. Try restarting the computer.
  3. Error Messages - Write them down.
    1. Mac II "bomb"Document the exact wording of any error messages. This can make our job much faster. If possible, copy the warning message to a word document and put it on a thumb drive so that you can send the error message as an attachment in an email.
    2. Note what was going on when the problem occurred. Were you starting your computer? Were you on the desktop? Were you in a particular application? Surfing the Web?
  4. Think about what changed recently on your computer.
    1. Try to pinpoint when the trouble first started. Did the problem coincide with any recent changes?
    2. Did you change any settings? If you did you might want to change them back the way they were.
    3. Any peripherals been added or removed recently (such as a printer or external Memory Card reader?)
    4. Has anyone else been using your computer recently?
    5. Have you downloaded anything off the Web? File sharing and free MP3's are an easy way to get a virus on your machine.

Restart the computer

Restarting a PC

  1. Normal restart: Click on the Windows Orb icon (bottom left hand corner), then click on the arrow next to Shut Down and choose restart
  2. Forced restart: Press CTRL-ALT-DEL twice in a row.
  3. If a forced restart doesn't work, you will have to turn the computer off with the power button. Hold the power button down (for about 5 -10 seconds) and the computer will shut down. Wait at least 10 seconds for the hard drive to stop spinning and then restartthe machine.

Restarting a Mac

  1. Normal restart: Choose Apple icon (upper left hand corner) then "Restart..." from the dropdown menu. When the confirmation alert box appears, click the Restart button.
  2. Forced restart: Press the computer's power button. This will display a panel with four buttons: Restart, Sleep, Cancel, and Shut Down. Click the Restart button.

Common problems: PC

  1. Can't connect to your Webdrive.
    1. If connecting from on campus, check that the drive you've mapped to is connected by going to Start Menu and clicking "Computer." The icon of the drive should be green.
      1. How to map a drive
    2. If you are connecting from off campus through a VPN, check that its connection is working, then make sure that your computer is mapped to the Webdrive.
      1. How to configure the Cisco VPN
  2. The computer is on but the screen is frozen and the keyboard and mouse are not responding.
    1. Try tapping on the Num Lock key. It's located on the right-hand side of the keyboard above the number 7. While tapping the Num Lock key, notice whether or not the Num Lock light goes on and off. If it doesn't, the computer is completely locked up. You'll have to restart the computer. If the light does go off and on, wait a minute before giving up. It may come back to life on its own.
    2. Press Alt + F4
      If a software program stops working or freezes up, try pressing the ALT+F4 keys to close the window that you're currently working in. This can shut down a frozen window and bring the computer back to life.  If the keyboard is frozen as well, you'll have to restart the computer.
  3. The "Blue Screen of Death" has appeared.
    1. Restart the machine. If it keeps occurring, this is an indication of a major problem with the computer.
    2. If this is your office computer, contact the Systems and Technology office immediately. Note what you were doing when the blue screen appeared.
  4. The computer is on, but there is no sound.
    1. Go to the speaker icon which is next to the clock on the taskbar. Double click the speaker icon to bring up the audio controls for the computer. See if any of the volume controls have been muted or turned all the way down. Uncheck any Mute boxes that are selected.
  5. The computer is on, but the keyboard doesn't work.
    1. Swap the keyboard or try plugging the keyboard into another computer. If it doesn't work on the other computer, there is likely something wrong with the keyboard. If it does work on the other computer, there is likely something wrong on the computer or the connection to the computer.
  6. A program no longer responds and can't be shut down.
    1. Press Ctrl-Alt-Delete to bring up a control panel where you can select the "Task Manager". See if any of the programs are "not responding". You may be able to shut down the unresponsive program from there. If you can't get to this screen, you'll have to restart the machine.

Resources

Microsoft Support

Common problems: Mac

  1. Can't connect to your Webdrive.
    1. If connecyting from on campus, check that you are using the correct format in the Connect to Server address field. See
      1. How to connect to the Webdrive
    2. If you are connecting from off campus through a VPN, check that its connection is working, then try connecting the Mac to the Webdrive.
      1. How to configure the Cisco VPN (Snow Leopard, Lion, Mountain Lion)
      2. How to configure the Cisco VPN (Tiger, Leopard)
  2. The Mac is frozen and won't respond, or the Restart command appears to work but 10 minutes later the machine is still attempting shutdown.
    1. The keyboard shortcut: If your keyboard has a power button, hold down Command and Control keys and press the power button.
    2. If your keyboard doesn't have a power button, hold down Command and Control keys and press the eject key (typically found in the upper right corner of the keyboard)
    3. Force restart: Press and hold the Mac's power button for approximately 10 seconds or until the power light goes out completely. Then press the power button again to turn your Mac back on.
  3. The computer is on, but there is no sound.
    1. Go to the speaker icon which is next to the power icon on the top menubar. Click the speaker icon to bring up the volume control for the computer. See if the volume control has been turned all the way down.
    2. Go to the System Preferences and click the Sound speaker icon. See if the volume control has been turned all the way down or if the mute box has been checked. Verify that you want the sound effects to play through the internal speakers or to play through an external device. Verify whether you are using the audio port for sound output or are using it for sound input.
  4. The computer is on, but the keyboard doesn't work.
    1. Swap the keyboard or try plugging the keyboard into another computer. If it doesn't work on the other computer, there is likely something wrong with the keyboard. If it does work on the other computer, there is likely something wrong on the computer or the connection to the computer.
  5. A program no longer responds and can't be shut down.
    1. Press Option-Command-Esc to bring up Force Quit Applications control panel. See if the panel indicates that the program is no longer responding. Highlight the unresponsive program and click the Force quit button. If you can't get to this screen, you'll have to restart the machine.

Resources

Troubleshooting Procedures for Mac

Apple Quick Assist

Apple Support

Still having issues?

EBSuite Help Desk Ticket System

Submit a support ticket to the EBSuite system (http://techsupport.csun.edu). From there, your request will be sent to the appropriate personnel.

Email

Send us an email at humnsys@csun.edu and we will respond to your request.

Phone

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