Computer hardware can fail over time and the most common components that can cause problems are the Power Supply Unit (PSU), and the Hard Disk Drive (HDD).
Power Supply Unit Failure
The Power Supply Unit (PSU) is probably the most likely component to fail. When you buy a desktop computer from a store it usually contains a cheap low-wattage PSU to keep the cost of the computer down. Unfortunately, these PSUs may not last very long particularly if you upgrade your Graphics Card to something more powerful, and add extra Hard Drives etc. When a PSU fails it can also cause damage to other computer components.
It is recommended that if you upgrade your computer, particularly the Graphics Card which draws a lot of power, then you should look at upgrading your Power Supply Unit. You should get a branded PSU from a manufacturer such as Corsair, Seasonic, or Antec which includes a warranty and has sufficient wattage to power all your components. It should also have all the necessary connections for all your components. More detailed information on Power Supply Units can be found here
If you turn on your computer one day and find that it will not start and there are no fans working or lights working then it is most likely a dead PSU. You may also have an intermittent problem with a PSU which allows the computer to start sometimes but not always. Details on testing a Power Supply Unit can be found here
Hard Drive Failure
Hard Drives can also fail which is why it is essential to back up
all your personal files such as photographs, video, and music collection etc.
Sometimes you can hear a Hard Drive whining which is a good indication that it will soon fail. This is caused by the read/write heads hitting the platters causing damage to the Hard Drive. You should be careful not to jolt the computer while it is on and the Hard Drive is working as the drive is a fragile mechanical device with moving parts which can be damaged. More details about Hard Drives can be found here
System Memory Failure
System Memory (RAM) can fail and there are various symptoms such as the computer will work okay when first turned on but will lose its performance after it has been on for some time. Other symptoms include the computer randomly restarting or the computer reporting less RAM than you actually have.
Causes of System Memory failure include power surges, and excessive heat. It is recommended to plug your computer into an anti-surge protected socket. You should also periodically clean the inside of your computer
to remove dust which causes a build-up of heat. If you overclock your computer then the components will most likely get hotter so you will need adequate cooling inside your case.
If you are having problems with the RAM then try reseating the memory modules and also try using one module at a time. You can also test your System Memory using memtest86
which you can burn to a CD and use it to boot your computer which will thoroughly test your RAM. More information on System Memory can be found here
An overheating computer will switch itself off after being on for a period of time. Once a Processor (CPU) reaches a certain temperature then it will automatically turn the computer off in order to protect the CPU. Overheating can be caused by a build-up of dust in the CPU heatsink and other components, vents, and fans in your computer. You should periodically clean the inside of your computer
to remove dust which causes a build-up of heat. Also make sure that all the fans are working okay, especially the CPU fan. Overclocking your computer will produce more heat so you will need a sufficient cooling solution to compensate for this.
Many computers will allow you to monitor the CPU temperature via the BIOS (CMOS setup page)
. Otherwise you can download software for monitoring the temperatures. Popular Temperature monitoring software include 'HWMonitor'
, 'Core Temp'
, 'Real Temp'
, and 'Speedfan'
. Different computer processors operate at various temperatures but a processor operating at over 70 degrees celsius under load may well cause problems.
The components inside a Laptop produce heat and are mainly cooled by a fan which sucks cool air into the vents of the Laptop. It is important not to cover these vents otherwise the Laptop will overheat and the computer will automatically turn itself off. Always put the Laptop on a hard flat surface so that the air can get into the vents and not on your lap or on any surface that will obscure the vents. You can buy Laptop cooling stands which help to keep your Laptop cool. Over time the air vent and fan can get clogged up with dust which will make it harder for your Laptop to keep cool and more likely to overheat.
The Laptop A.C. Adaptor cable may becomes frayed and the wires become exposed causing the adaptor to fail.
Laptop hinges may become damaged over time due to repeatedly opening and closing the lid. They may become loose and need tightening up or they may even break.
These and other Laptop problems are covered here
along with solutions.