4 Common Windows Computer Issues & How to Fix Them

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Girl with laptop

A laptop might be a college girl’s best friend, but that doesn’t change the fact that most of us spend just as much time screaming at our computers as we do using them.

While the university tech desk gurus can be great, they're usually booked or unequipped to fix computer errors. And unless you’re under warranty, sending your laptop back to the manufacturer can be incredibly pricey... not to mention unnecessary, if the issue turns out to be minor.

As someone who has experienced many problems with Windows laptops over the years, I've amassed some knowledge on how to deal with PC issues. While this article is no substitute for a professional repair, here are some basic steps to try on your Windows computer before you turn to the pros:

Help! My PC Won’t Boot!

If you can’t even access Windows, hit F8 as the system boots up and head straight into Safe Mode. If that works, the problem likely lies with some sort of application error or even spyware.

If Safe Mode isn’t responding, break out your system repair disk or your Windows installation CD and select Repair. If you regularly back up your computer image, you can also use System Restore, a PC user’s best fix-it.

Help! My PC Runs Super Slowly!

Girl waiting on a slow computer


"Someday my document will open...."

Sometimes everything’s working and seems okay, except for one thing: your computer is seriously slow. Programs take forever to load, tabs won’t switch quickly, and even the text you're typing lags behind. As soon as slowness becomes an issue, bring up the Task Manager (right-click the Start Menu or hit CTRL-ALT-DEL) and, under the Processes tab, try and find out which program is taking up the most CPU or memory. Nine times out of ten, that little sucker is the one we want to kill.

If you want to prevent having to do this constantly, while you’re in Processes, check for bloatware and other applications that you don’t need running. A quick uninstall can do wonders, but to thoroughly wipe all traces of those applications, you’re going to have to download a program to clean up for you. I personally recommend Revo Installer Free, but there are a ton of similar programs out there that’ll work just as well.

If Processes isn’t turning anything up, the problem may be more serious: your computer might be infected with spy or adware. Run your virus scanner of choice (be sure your virus definitions are up-to-date!) and hope that’ll fix it.

Help! My Internet Hates Me!

No internet connection

Slow Internet is pretty much the curse of the wired world. It galvanizes students into leaping for quick fixes... even when said fixes can mean downloading adware. (Guys, here's a tip: you should tolerate malware on your computer the way you should tolerate roaches in your salad.) Skip the programs promising you lighting fast speeds - there are easier and more effective ways to deal.

Your first step is to make sure you’re actually connected to the Internet, and rather than checking your incredibly unhelpful status bar, there’s a much better way to do it. Pull up your Start Menu, type in “cmd,” hit Enter, and then in the black window that appears, type “ping collegefashion.net” (or whatever website you’re trying to access). You don’t have to understand the information that that window will proceed to spit back at you; all you need to see is that there’s a positive response.

One of the best and easiest fixes is just to disable and re-enable your connection. No one knows why this works, and it really shouldn’t, but no one knows why restarting your computer fixes anything either. It just does.

If you’re connected but the webpages still aren’t loading, restore default settings to your browser and see if that helps. Make sure it’s a browser-wide problem and not just a specific page; websites like downforeveryoneorjustme.com are fantastic resources for helping you figure it out.

Help! My Computer is Sick!

Computer at risk message

If your computer is so bogged down with viruses that it needs to be quarantined for its own good, get back to Safe Mode (you remember how to do that, right?) and run a virus scanner. There are tons of free antivirus utilities available on the Internet, so not being able to afford Norton or McAfee is no excuse! (Also, many universities offer free antivirus software to students - check and see if yours does!) I would recommend using the basic Microsoft Security Essentials program, and follow it up with MalwareBytes Free to clean up any icky virus residue.

If your computer is so sick it can’t even turn on, you should probably invest in a more expensive anti-virus software program. Just saying. A lot of antivirus providers include boot disks that will let you clean the PC without having to start up Windows.

What do you think?

What kind of problems do you usually run into with a Windows computer? How do you fix them? What are your quick computer fixes? Tell us your tech strategies in the comments!