- Make sure you have power. Check that power cords are plugged in. See if there are lights on the equipment. Check to make sure your surge protector is on.
- If your computer won’t boot, check to make sure you don’t have a floppy, CD, or flash memory stick inside. Some printers with flash memory plugins or external hard drives may also prevent booting, try unplugging them.
- Tapping on F8 at startup will bring Windows up in a limited view called Safe Mode, but it may be enough to restart normally or at least recover files. Mac users would hold down Shift at startup.
- USB devices are like a constantly updating database, sometimes unplugging and replugging them in will suddenly make them work.
- Many software problems involve a common, similar event. If you can figure out to repeat it—say, Adobe Acrobat only crashes if you have both Word and Excel open—you’ll have a higher likelihood of resolving the problem by uninstalling and reinstalling the offending program(s).
- Always make sure your computer has the latest operating system updates. You should be concerned if your computer cannot update itself. Sometimes posting these updates will instantly fix problems.
- Some errors are more serious than others. If your error shows up in a well-defined square with a nice typeface, the problem is probably solvable without reformatting. If your error brings up cryptic type in what looks to be programming language, it will save time to back up your files and start over.
- If you backup your important files, you significantly reduce most risks in using a computer—learn to make CDs or use external hard drives. If you learn Cut, Copy, Paste, how to rename a file or create a folder, you will know how to navigate around your computer until you find your lost file.