On windows-based computers there are 2 general types of computer errors. The first being pop up errors that occur when a program crashes or when a program executes a command that the computer cannot process. The second type of computer error is often nicknamed the blue screen of death because just before the computer reboots itself, a blue screen appears.
The blue screen of death is most often caused by something called a device driver conflict, meaning that one of the pieces of software that controls a printer, scanner, modem, or other device has made a request that compromised the stability of the computer’s basic functions. Both types of computer error are difficult to troubleshoot, but this article will attempt to give some basic guidance.
Troubleshooting Computer Error Popups
Computer error pop-ups often occur as a result of a malfunctioning piece of software. Windows is designed to give each program a portion of the system’s resources, and if a program oversteps these bounds the system will often terminate the program automatically to prevent it from destabilizing the entire system. When this occurs write down the computer error code and attempt a Google search using that error message as the search text.
Quite often the search will lead to a forum post or knowledge base entry that shows that others have had the same problem in the past. If this is the case by doing a more thorough search it is often possible to find the specific cause of the error and occasionally a solution to the problem.
Blue Screen Computer Errors
The most frustrating computer errors are the blue screen errors that typically occur with device driver conflicts. Although blue screen errors can be caused by many different things, one of the first things to consider when troubleshooting this type of error is to think about what has changed recently with the computer. Has a new peripheral been installed?
Has the computer recently installed a driver update for an existing printer or other device? If the computer was working fine and suddenly develops repeated blue screen of death style computer errors then something has changed that is causing the error. Remove the new device and see if the problem continues.
Like with pop-up errors, it may be tempting to write down the cryptic computer error message that flashes on the blue screen prior to the system rebooting. For the vast majority of fatal system errors this information will sadly not provide any real assistance toward solving the problem. In case of a fatal computer error the best troubleshooting course of action is to do as described in the previous paragraph, remove any new devices or drivers and if all else fails contact the computer’s manufacturer.
How to Perform a Windows Repair
Windows XP can randomly generate errors or problems for any reason at any time, and in most cases, restoring the original settings provides a simple solution. Even the most skilled PC user comes across problems with Windows. Most problems occur because changes in the computer, such as installing new hardware or software, or because of changes in settings, like in services or registry.
Problems include, but are not limited to, program load errors, installation problems, or inabilities to communicate with hardware. While it may be possible to fix these manually, some causes are difficult to identify. To prevent having to do a full Windows reinstall, Windows Repair essentially deletes files from the Windows folder, and installs the original files that came with the disk. Though the process appears difficult, it can be performed easily.
Before starting the repair, make sure all important files are backed up on another hard drive or disk. While the odds of the process erasing all files by accident are extremely unlikely, it never hurts to be prepared. Insert the Windows XP installation CD in the CD drive, and then reboot the computer.
As the computer is rebooting, the computer has to boot from the CD. There are two ways to do this, but the keys are different for each computer. The first way is to press the correct F-key to load up the screen to select the boot device. In most cases, this key is usually F8, F10, or F12, but if these do not work, consult the motherboard manual, the manual that came with the computer, or the company’s website to find the correct key.
If this still cannot be found, the second method is to load the BIOS menu. Press F2, DEL, or whatever key is listed at the bottom of the screen when the computer starts up. In the menu, locate the section that determines the boot device, change the primary boot device to the CD drive, and save and exit the screen. Be sure to change the primary boot device back to the hard drive after the repair.
Performing the Repair
Once the computer boots, the message “Press any key to boot from CD” will appear. Press any key, and the CD will begin loading up the files. After this is done, three options will appear. Press enter to install Windows (DO NOT press R as it will start the Recovery Console, which is different), then accept the terms and conditions by pressing F8. The CD will already locate the current Windows Installation and give the option to begin a Windows Repair. Press R to start the repair.
At this point, the computer will proceed to delete the old Windows files and install the new ones. After it finishes, it will reboot the system. When the computer starts up again, an installation screen will appear again. This process takes anywhere from 15 to 40 minutes depending on the computer, and may ask for input for settings, like date and time and network setup. Once this is complete, the computer will reboot again, and one last setup screen will appear. Press next, fill in any necessary information, and press finish. Windows will start up and the process in finished.
All programs will remain intact, save for any Windows updates. The number of updates depends on the version of Windows on the CD, but can be easily done by going through Windows Update. It may take a few times, but after it’s done, the process is complete and hopefully any problems will be fixed.