Frequently Asked Questions - Troubleshooting Common Questions and Answers

FAQs - Troubleshooting Common Questions and Answers
Here you will find questions and answers to common troubleshooting topics.
Why is my computer so slow?

There are many reasons a computer can be slower than when it was new. Windows computers tend to get slower over time as programs are added and removed and changes are made to the software and operating system. You can maintain it as much as you like but it always will get a little slower as its used. Think of it as a car that you tune up over and over but it never runs like it did when it was new. Many people will format their hard drive and reinstall everything from scratch every couple of years to keep things running smooth.

If you don’t want to do that then you can perform various maintenance procedures like cleaning up unnecessary files such as temp files and log files. Windows has a built in disk cleanup utility or you can use a third party application like the free CCleaner which does a better job.

One of the main reasons for computer slowdowns is caused by spyware infections that you get from downloading things from the internet that you may or may not even know were being installed. There are many free anti Spyware\Malware programs that you can download and install to scan your system for infections.

You may also want to check your startup items using the Windows System Configuration Utility or MSconfig to see if there are any programs set to startup with your computer that you don’t want to start up that may be using resources and slowing it down.

How do I open a command prompt?

A command prompt is command line interface that you can use within Windows to run commands to perform tasks that you may not be able to do from the graphical user interface (GUI).

There are a few ways to get to a command prompt from within Windows. The easiest way is to click on Start, then Run and type cmd in the box and hit Enter. Or you can click on Start, Programs (or All Programs), Accessories and then Command Prompt.

Why does my computer reboot itself randomly?

A computer shutting down or rebooting can be caused by a few different things. The 3 most common are a power supply going bad, motherboard going bad or the computer overheating. If it’s just shutting down then it may be a case of it over heating. You can go into the BIOS and see if you have anything set to shut off the computer at a certain temperature. This setting is to prevent the computer from being damaged from overheating. You can also let it run in the BIOS and watch the displayed temperature and see if it keeps rising.

The second is when your power supply is going bad. The power supply provides power to all of your hardware components. If it is going bad then it can just shut off as if you unplugged the computer. They are fairly easy and cheap to replace. If you have a name brand computer like a Dell it may have a special non standard power supply. Otherwise they are about $60 and will take about 20 minutes to replace if you are used to replacing components inside the computer.

The worst case scenario and unfortunately the most common is a failing motherboard. This will cause random shutdowns, reboots and Windows errors. There is no real method to check the motherboard at home and if it’s bad then it’s the hardest part to replace since everything else is connected to it. If you don't get the same type then you will have to reinstall all the motherboard drivers to get Windows to recognize the new hardware. Or if you don't need to save anything you can do a clean installation of Windows or a restore from your recovery CD. Getting a new motherboard may also require you to get a new processor and RAM to match the type of motherboard if your original motherboard was an outdated model.

You can also look at your Windows Event Viewer to see if it tells you any issues that were happening around the time of the shutdown.

When trying to print a message comes up and says that my printer is not connected to the computer.

When you go to Start, Settings and Printers and Faxes or Start, Printers and Faxes make sure that your printer is there. Also make sure there is a check mark on your printer name. If not, right click on it and pick set as default printer. You can also double click it and make sure there aren't any print jobs backed up. Another thing to do is to make sure it is online. Right click on it and it should say Use Printer Offline if it is online and say Use Printer Online if it is offline. You want it to say Use Printer Offline for it to work.

You can also right click the printer and go to Properties to check the port that it prints to and you can also print a test page from there.

One more thing to try is to go to Start, Run, type in services.msc and click Ok. From here find the service in the list that says Print Spooler and make sure it is started. If not you can right click it and start it and also set it to automatic.

If that doesn't work delete the printer from Printers and Faxes and also uninstall any software from Add/Remove Programs in Control Panel associated with the printer and then try to install the printer again.

When turning on your computer the screen is black with a message that says "VGA MODE NOT SUPPORTTED" and at the bottom of the message box is 'H:31.4KHz V:70.0Hz'.

It sounds like your computer got set to a high resolution that your monitor will not support. It may also happen if it’s really low like 640x480. It can also be a case of your refresh rate being set to high as well. It’s hard to tell if its Windows related without seeing how far the boot process goes. If you can get into Safe Mode then you can turn down the resolution and refresh rate. You should be safe at 800x600. If you can’t get into regular Safe Mode then try Enable VGA Mode.

If you get in then right click your desktop and choose properties. Go to the Settings tab and adjust the slider to 800x600. Then click on Advanced and go to the Monitor tab. Under Screen refresh rate set it to a medium setting such as 60 Hertz. Then reboot your computer and see if it will start in normal mode.

There may also be a chance that your video card is having problems and may need to be replaced. You can also test by hooking up your computer to a different monitor and see if you get the same results.

After I shut down the computer then when I try to start up nothing happens. Once I shut the power off and try again it will start. Some times I have to shut the power off more than one to get it to start.

Unfortunately this is one of those rule out the bad component problems. You can first rule out the power switch on the case by trying to start the computer from the motherboard. If you feel comfortable doing this you can open the case and find the wire that connects from the case power button to the motherboard. It will most likely say pwr on it and have 2 wires going into one plug. The connection on the motherboard will have 2 pins. Once you find this you can take the wire off and take a screwdriver and "short" the connection on the motherboard by making contact with both pins at the same time. You don't need to hold it on there once it starts. Just hold it a second or two until it starts then you can take the screwdriver off. If it starts right away then you know it is your power switch on the case and you can fix it. I would just get a new case and transfer the parts if you know how or find someone that can maybe fix the power switch.

You can also try replacing the Power Supply. Its really easy to do. All it involves is unplugging the power connections off the motherboard, hard drive, floppy and CDROM. Then you take out 4 screws on the back of the computer and it will come right out.

Another option is to take out your cards such as modem, sound, network etc one at a time to see if one of them is causing the problem.

There is also the possibility that the motherboard may have a problem too. Unfortunately these kinds of hardware issues can be many things.

TAGS: power supply
I'm having trouble with my sound device and there is no sound now. How can I fix it?

There are a couple of things we can look at here. The obvious things are to check the speakers and volume. If you know the speakers are plugged in and are working then we can bypass this step otherwise you may want to check them on another computer or try different speakers on your computer.

Next let's double click the speaker icon on the taskbar down by the clock. Make sure the volume is up and not muted.

Another thing to look at is to go to Control Panel and then the Sound icon. Make sure nothing is muted and that you have a sound device listed there with a green check mark. Also check that the right device is set as default.

You can also check Device Manager to make sure there are no conflicts. You can reinstall or update drivers from here if you have your software from your sound card. You may also want to try to rollback the driver to a previous version in case it got corrupted on an update.

The worst case scenario is that your sound card went bad. If its a PCI card type sound device you can take it out and replace it with a new one. They are pretty cheap nowadays ($25 and up). If your sound is built into your motherboard then you can disable the on board sound in the BIOS and add a PCI sound card.

My keyboard and mouse freeze when the login screen appears so I cannot do anything. Anything I can do to fix that?

Have you tried booting into Safe Mode to see if you can get that far? If you can you may have something that is starting up with Windows that is causing it to hang but is not starting up in Safe Mode. If that's the case you may be able to boot into Safe Mode and then go into your startup items and uncheck all the non essential items or do one at a time to try and narrow it down.

Using MSconfig to check your startup items.

You can also boot to Safe Mode and select Last Known Good Configuration to see if that will get you going.

Another option is to boot with your Windows DVD and try the repair options there.

There is also a possibility of having a hardware problem but that will require some advanced troubleshooting so you might want to take it somewhere for that.

The PC will not boot. The HD LED light flashes and the Power light Flashes. I replaced the power supply too. Any ideas?

If you see the hard drive light flashing and the power and reset buttons work then you know the motherboard is getting power. Even if the hard drive was bad you would still see something on the screen from the motherboard.

If the screen is blank then there are a few things it could be. It could be the video card, or if you have on board video then it could be the video connection on the motherboard. Try taking the video card out and re-seating it or putting it in another slot. It could also be bad RAM. You can try and take it out and re-seat it or try replacing it. It may also be a bad motherboard or processor. If any of these are bad you wont see video on the monitor. I suppose there is a slight chance that is the monitor or cable so that may be worth checking out.

Make sure your CPU fan is also working. Run the computer with the cover off and check it. If its not then you may have fried your processor.

Hopefully this will give you some ideas of where to look. Unfortunately there is no one answer to this type of problem.

My computer won't shut down and just hangs. What can I do?

When your computer freezes when it shutting down it can be a variety of things. Here are a few things you can try.

You can also run the Windows System File Checker. Go to Start, then Run and type in sfc /scannow and click Ok. This will check your system files to make sure everything is ok. You may need to insert your Windows CD so have it handy.

Another thing it can be is a program or service running in the background that you most likely don't need or that doesn't want to end properly. When you shutdown, make sure you exit all open applications. You can even try to close out everything in the system tray by the clock or use Task Manager to end running programs.

You can also try booting into Safe Mode, and see if you get the same results when shutting down. If so then its most likely something set to run in normal mode.

Viruses or spyware can cause these types of problems. Make sure to run all your scans to make sure your computer is not infected with something.

My desktop display is upside down, i.e. everything is upside down.
Try pressing Ctrl and Alt together then either the up, down, right or left arrow key to rotate the screen. Sometimes you might press this key combination on accident and rotate your screen without meaning to

When I first start my computer it will go so far on start up then it says to press F1 or delete and it won’t go to windows until I press F1 then its fine. What do I do?
That usually means that there is a conflict in the configuration with the computer. Many times just going into the BIOS/Setup by pressing delete and then saving the configuration (usually by pressing F10) and exiting will do the trick. If its a consistent problem that comes up again you may have to go through your BIOS settings and double check everything or even try setting all the settings to default. If you have made changes you may want to write them down but most likely you haven't. If you installed any new hardware that may cause this message as well. It can also mean your CMOS battery is going bad or you may even need a BIOS upgrade/flash.

My computer has no sound and says no active mixer installed. What could be the possible solution?

The first thing I would check is to make sure your computer is recognizing your sound card. Go into Device Manager and make sure it is listed there under sound controllers and also make sure there are no yellow exclamation points or question marks next to the device name. If so then there could be a hardware or driver conflict.

If your computer uses onboard sound which is built into the motherboard then make sure it is enabled in the BIOS. If you are using an actual PCI soundcard then the onboard audio should be disabled.

You can also check to make sure the Windows Audio service is started. Click on Start, Run, and type in services.msc. Scroll down to Windows Audio. Double click it and click on Properties. Make sure that Startup type is set to automatic and that the service is started.

Finally I would try to reinstall the sound driver. If your computer is a name brand such as a HP then you can look up the model online and download the appropriate driver.

Every time I start my computer I get an install box error saying to put in the disc containing the file TrayApp.msi
Trayapp.msi is most likely related to some sort of HP device that you have installed. If you have the CD that came with your HP printer, scanner or other device try to put it in the drive and either let the computer find the file or browse to the file on the CD so the computer can finish the process it is trying to complete. You may want to do a search of the CD first to locate the directory that the file is in to make it easier for you to find when pointing the computer to it when it asks for the location of the file.

TAGS: TrayApp.msi
My laptop is locked in hibernate mode, how do I fix this?

Some computers have issues with Windows hibernation mode. To get the computer back up again you should just hold the power button down until it shuts off completely. Some laptops won’t shut off even if you do this. When this happens you have to take the battery out to get it to turn off. Make sure it is not plugged into the wall when you do this otherwise it wont work.

Once you get the computer back running again you may want to disable hibernation if it seems like its going to keep happening. Go to Control Panel and then to Power Options. Change the hibernation section to never. You may want to try standby as an alternative. Standby saves all your running applications and documents into RAM while hibernate saves them to the hard drive. Hibernate uses less power from your battery, but it will take you considerably longer to get the computer back up. If you always plug the computer in then you may want to disable standby and hibernate since you really dint need them while plugged in.

TAGS: hibernate
Invalid System Disk Message on Laptop

The message you are getting means that your hard drive is no longer bootable. Its hard to say what the reason is because there is no one definite cause. Your hard drive itself may have physically gone bad or you may have some corrupted system files. You an try going into the BIOS to make sure that the drive is still recognized by the computer.

If you aren't getting any specific error messages as to what files are corrupt or missing if any then you may be stuck doing a reinstall of Windows. If you have your recovery CD that came with the laptop then you can use that to reinstall your system. You might have a recovery partition on the same hard drive instead so it might not be accessible in your case. Keep in mind that the recovery CDs that come with laptops usually wipe out the computer and put it back to the state it was in when you bought it meaning any programs or files you added since then will be gone.

Before getting that drastic you can have someone take the hard drive out of your laptop and attach it to a working computer and see if its recognizable and if so copy your documents off of it before reinstalling Windows.

When turning my computer on it won’t boot up and says 0271 check date and time then goes to a picture of a lock.

It sounds as though your computer has the wrong time in the CMOS. The CMOS (Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductors) is the chip that holds the basic startup information for the BIOS, system and its peripherals while the system is turned on and off.

If you can get into the BIOS check the date and time settings and make sure they are correct.

It may also be a case of the CMOS battery going out. When this happens your computer will tend to not keep the correct time. They are cheap and relatively easy to replace. Before buying a new batter your can try to take it out and let it sit for about 15 minutes or so to reset the CMOS and then go put the battery back in and go into the BIOS and reset the clock.

Hopefully taking the batter out or replacing it will get past your lock icon asking for the password. If not then you may have to find out the manufactures of your computer's motherboard to see if there is a common password to get past the lockout. If it's a laptop then it should be easier to find this code based on the manufacturer. Just search for CMOS or BIOS default password for your brand of laptop.

NTLDR is Compressed Bootup Error

This should be fixable by booting your computer to a command prompt either from Safe Mode or the Windows DVD repair options.

At thecommand prompt, type: attrib -c ntldr and then press Enter

At the prompt, type: exit

Press the Enter key and immediately remove any discs from the computer to allow the computer to restart.

When I try to install Windows it says it is not able to find any hard disk drives installed.

If Windows cannot find a hard drive during the installation then you may have a problem with the drive not being recognized in the BIOS or a problem with the hard drive, cable or motherboard itself. I would go into your BIOS settings and see if its recognized there. If its a newer computer then usually having it set to Auto works and it should find it.

If it doesn't show up there then make sure the cables are connected correctly and that its getting power. If its an IDE drive check to make sure the cable is attached properly and not backwards. Usually the red stripe on the ribbon cable should be on the same side as the power connector. You may also want to use a different power connector in case one of them is defective. Also check the ribbon cable connection on the motherboard to make sure its in the right way and not loose. There should be marking on by the connector that has the number 1 on it indicating where the red side of the cable goes since that represents pin number 1.

If its a SATA hard drive then check the connections as well. Some SATA drives have different types of power connectors and others use the same Molex type as IDE drives. The BIOS settings for SATA drives are usually in a different area then for IDE drives.

You can also run the computer with the cover off and see if you can hear the drive spin up during startup to see if its getting power to it. You may also want to try different ports to see if you have a bad hard drive connection on the motherboard.

Application Failed (0xc0000005) message on startup

This type of message can be caused by many different things. Your first step should be to boot into Safe Mode and see if you can get into your computer because Safe Mode uses a generic Windows driver rather than the one used by your video card in case its a video card driver issue. It will also allow you to run MSconfig and disable some or all of your startup items in case the error is being caused by a program or some type of spyware that is running in normal mode.

Since you may not have access to your USB ports or CDROM in Safe Mode to back up your files then you can hopefully get your computer to a point where it can boot ok normally. If you do then you can backup from Safe Mode.

If you do a Windows System Restore it wont affect your files/documents. It only puts the computer back to state where it was at that point in regards to the Windows configuration. If you do a system recovery with your recovery CD then that will wipe out your files.

Keep in mind that this error can also be caused by bad RAM so you may have to try taking out some of it if you have multiple chips and finding a combination that works.

It may also be caused by spyware so it would be a good idea to run some scans in Safe Mode as well. There are many free tools and software you can use to do a good job of cleaning your computer.

After I start my computer and open a program the CPU usage goes from the idle process to 100%.

When the processor goes to 100% is it from the same program every time? Go into Task Manager and then the Processes tab and sort by Mem Usage and then CPU and see if any process has a really high value. Then lookup that process online if its not obvious what it is by looking at it. You can also right click the process and choose End Process and see if that makes the CPU level go back to normal.

I would also go through your startup items using a href="/support-categories/pc-troubleshooting/188-checking-your-startup-items-using-msconfig" target="blank">MSconfig and uncheck anything that you don't need to boot with your computer. Most things in the list can be safely unchecked. You can lookup the items online if you cant tell what programs the relate to by the name.

I purchased software to fix an Explorer problem, it didn't work. My PC keeps popping up a Explorer.EXE window that says "The procedure entry point GetProcessImageFileNameW could not be located in the dynamic link library PSAPI.DLL”. What can I do to fix this problem?

This error can be caused by having multiple versions of the psapi.dll file on your computer. There should only be one in the Windows\System32 folder. Try these steps to rename any other instances of the psapi.dll file on your computer.

1. Open Windows Explorer and navigate to the root of the C drive.
2. Search for PSAPI.DLL.
3. Rename all extra versions of PSAPI.DLL files found except the one located in \Windows\System32\ folder to something like PSAPIOLD.DLL
4. Restart your computer.

You may also want to run the Windows System File Checker Checker to make sure you have the correct version of psapi.dll in your system32 folder.

I’m getting an error Code 80244019 with Windows Update. How do I fix it?

You can try this registry edit and see if it fixes the problem for you. Open Regedit by going to Start, Run and typing in regedit and clicking ok.

Then navigate to


Select this dword value that says


and change the value to 0 if you have this entry in your registry.

Reboot the computer and try to do your updates again.

I am getting messages that my" virtual memory minimum is too low", and the "size of my virtual memory paging file is being increased". What does that mean?

Virtual memory is used when you are running low on RAM memory. You computer will then use the hard drive for temporary memory once your regular RAM is getting used up. Hard drive memory is much slower than RAM and your computer allocates a certain amount of hard drive space to virtual memory in what is called a pagefile. If your hard drive is also getting full then that's less room for virtual memory usage. Usually a reboot will flush your memory and take care of it but if you are getting this message all the time you may want to invest in adding more RAM to your computer.

You can also increase your virtual memory size by adding a user defined pagefile higher than the set system amount. This is done by going to your System properties in Control panel. Then go to the advanced system settings and then click on Settings in the Performance area. Click on the Advanced tab there and then there is a section called Virtual memory. Here you can click on Change and for your C drive you can click on Custom size and make the minimum and maximum values higher than what Windows has them set for. If you have other hard drives you can make a pagefile for those drives as well. If you are low on hard drive space then this may not help you.

How do you fix a problem on a computer when it beeps five times?
When your computer beeps like that it's usually a code telling you what the problem is. Then you can look up the beep code and try and diagnose the problem that way. The problem is that if you don't know who makes the BIOS of your computer then it may be hard to find the right cause of the beep code. You can look at various codes from different BIOS manufactures to try and narrow it down. Or if your computer starts enough to show you the POST screen where you can press the certain key needed to get into the BIOS then you should be able to find out who makes it. Many times it will show on the screen as one of the first items during startup.

TAGS: beep codes

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