Troubleshooting is a form of problem solving that uses logical, systematic steps to solve the problem.

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44
votes
16answers
82k views

How do I troubleshoot a Windows 7 freeze or slowness?

A machine is described as being "really slow" or "freezing". How can I troubleshoot/resolve this issue? What should be the first steps to take?
38
votes
10answers
4k views

Which malfunctions cause old computers to slow down and crash?

I've had a few computers of my own break after a few years of use, and I've seen computers owned by friends and family do the same thing. They either slow down (even running the original software ...
37
votes
4answers
2k views

How do I troubleshoot when I have no clue where to start?

I am looking for hints, tips and answers on how to get started on troubleshooting when: The problem is intermittent The problem could lie literally anywhere - operating system; free source software; ...
36
votes
5answers
10k views

What is the proper way of debugging a slow Windows installation?

You know the drill - you've been asked to check why your cousin's computer is running slow. I was right there yesterday. Being a Mac user since 2007 I haven't really dug deep in Windows internals in ...
34
votes
4answers
5k views

What is the purpose of using a large ping packet?

While analyzing some traffic logs, I noticed a node pinging its gateway with a large ping packet size, ranging from 700 bytes to 1 MB. It's a constant ping from node to gateway and the size per ping ...
33
votes
6answers
9k views

How do I get to the root cause of high Deferred Procedure Calls?

I've got a Dual core processor, and one of the two is constantly at 100%. Looking in ProcessExplorer shows me that it's Deferred Procedure Calls. Reading around the net seems to give me tons of ...
24
votes
3answers
77k views

How do I find what's eating up all of my system's memory? (not SuperFetch)

How does one diagnose/discover memory-related problems, if Task Manager appears to not be reporting correctly? I must have a memory leak or something -- I'm at 75% usage of my 12 GB of memory, but ...
22
votes
5answers
5k views

How to test a power supply?

My computer powered off the other day on its own, and now when I push the power button, nothing happens. My assumption would naturally be that the power supply is done (possibly well done) but is ...
20
votes
12answers
10k views

Why are my hard drives failing?

I have a small Ubuntu server running at home, with 2 hard drives. There are two software raids (raid1) on the disks, managed by mdadm, which I believe is irrelevant, but mentioning it anyway. Both of ...
18
votes
2answers
8k views

How can I identify the culprit of my slow Windows shutdown?

My computer is taking a very long time to shutdown. How can I identify the culprit? I don't want to wait minutes for my computer to shutdown... Is there a program I can use to track how long it ...
17
votes
3answers
17k views

How do I troubleshoot hardware issues related to a computer freeze/crash?

What are some common guidelines and issues related to hardware being the issue of a computer crash? What should I look for and how do I troubleshoot these problems? What are some tools that are ...
16
votes
7answers
11k views

Why does restarting a computer fix things?

The title say sit all, but why does restarting a computer tend to fix things? It seems like IT folks always ask, "Have you restarted your PC?" But Why?
14
votes
3answers
24k views

How to diagnose Blue Screens in Windows 7 (64bit)

Using programs like WhoCrashed and BlueScreenView you can see the BSOD and the errors but how do you tell exactly what's causing the BSOD? I'm not sure if it because of bad hardware, bad driver ...
13
votes
15answers
38k views

Windows 7: Wi-Fi connection drops intermittently - only returns after “Troubleshoot connection” resets the adapter

On our laptop (running Windows 7) the Wi-Fi connection drops intermittently. Symptoms: Connectivity is suddenly lost, and the "signal strenght" indicator in the tray shows zero strength and a yellow ...
12
votes
4answers
709 views

Why do people suggest you try using another USB port? [duplicate]

Just curious why this is always on the list for trouble shooting USB devices. Is it just because how USB works, some kind of tech myth, or just in case there's an actual hardware fault with the USB ...
12
votes
8answers
15k views

Why is usable RAM less than total RAM?

My girlfriend bought a laptop last week. It's a core 2 duo with 4 GB We installed vista 64bit, and one of the first things we did was right click on "My computer" to see gthe properties. Immediately ...
12
votes
2answers
3k views

What does this dtrace error mean?

When running iotop -C 5 12 on my late-2010 Macbook Pro (10.6.7) I get repeated instances of this error: dtrace: error on enabled probe ID 5 (ID 19507: io:mach_kernel:buf_strategy:start): illegal ...
11
votes
2answers
6k views

Laptop randomly waking up = Hibernate / Low Battery?

A (Windows 7) laptop has been annoying me since the day we got it. When it is put to sleep (the lid closed), it seems to intermittently wake up randomly during the night (i.e., 10pm, 1:30am, 7am, ...
11
votes
1answer
1k views

All invalid hostnames resolve to localhost in my browser. What is going on?

Update: jump to the end of this question for the happy conclusion to this epic tale. Note: I have IIS7 installed locally for web development. This is what happens in my browser for random sites: ...
10
votes
13answers
17k views

Why does Internet Explorer sometimes fail to connect to anything until I restart it?

IE has an annoying problem on my PC (XP SP3). I start it and try to go to Google (for example) and it'll sit there saying "Connecting" but nothing will happen and it doesn't matter how many times I ...
9
votes
2answers
4k views

Common Mac OS folders/settings to check (when trying to get rid of a pesky self-launching app)

If there's an app that starts up by itself, what would the most efficient places to look for it be? Does anyone have a nice comprehensive list of where to check for Startup Items, Login Items, Login ...
9
votes
6answers
538 views

Identify what's painting the empty space in my Windows notification area?

I have an "icon" in my Windows (XP, if it matters) notification area (by the clock) which renders no image, but rather an empty square space (no borders -- nothing rendered at all in the space where ...
9
votes
3answers
3k views

Troubleshooting a Windows 7 PC that wouldn't sleep

I have a new Windows 7 PC that wouldn't sleep (not just automatically, but also when specifically told to). The screen goes black momentarily, but within two seconds the machine comes back as if ...
8
votes
6answers
13k views

Why does restarting/resetting the router work?

So, I'm a technology guy and sometimes I have to troubleshoot a home network, including my own. I make sure the wires are in securely and that the lights suggest there's an actual internet connection. ...
8
votes
3answers
3k views

Windows 7 Backup not backing up custom library?

I have created a custom Library under Windows 7 64bit professional to handle my source code. When I tried Windows Backup and Restore for the first time I get the following error Backup encountered ...
8
votes
3answers
1k views

Getting gratuitous amounts of soft page faults when loading games and watching flash video

My computer has a strange issue when playing games that load assets on the fly. Perhaps I'm looking in the wrong places, but I seem to be unable to find anyone with a similar issue. In case it's not ...
8
votes
2answers
174 views

Any game kills my sound

Every time I quit a game such as Braid, Fallout3, AVP all sound on the PC dies (Control Panel > No Audio Devices) I installed a new sound card (SB Audigy) and updated to the latest drivers, and it ...
7
votes
5answers
27k views

What registry key or windows file determines where monitors are placed in a multi monitor environment?

I have a laptop with a USB to VGA adapter which allows me to add a third monitor to my laptop (the second monitor uses the onboard slot). It worked fine on Windows Vista - you could go into Windows' ...
7
votes
5answers
10k views

Copy and Paste from Virtual PC has stopped working

Up until the last week I was able to copy and paste text from my virtual PC (VPC) to my host machine, however I tried it today with no success...it doesn't error it will just paste whatever is in the ...
7
votes
7answers
31k views

Cannot activate windows 7

I can't activate Windows 7, I get an error saying DNS name does not exist. Is something configured incorrectly somewhere? PS: I need the answer within 13 days ;) UPDATE: I had upgraded from my ...
7
votes
5answers
2k views

Winkey stops working

About 6 months ago, out of nowhere my old keyboard's Winkey stopped working. CTRL+ESC would still show the Start Menu, but just the Winkey would do apparently nothing. Winkey+M would show the Desktop, ...
7
votes
1answer
648 views

Firefox: Viewing a specific SVG file turns the system unresponsive

Important: Several SuperUser regulars are currently trying to narrow down the scope and cause of this issue. We are currently seeking willing volunteers to fill out the form here after performing ...
6
votes
3answers
1k views

How do I troubleshoot problems that occur during boot?

In the case that my computer would have issues with booting, what steps can I take to troubleshoot it?
6
votes
3answers
2k views

Can computer crashes and reboots be caused by weak power supply?

Recently I replaced the videocard in my PC for a newer, faster one. All games work perfectly but I get random system crashes and reboots. This happens even when the system is almost idle (browsing, ...
6
votes
4answers
36k views

Partition table corrupted (USB flash drive)

It's an 8 GB Patriot thumb drive, which I've used extensively with lots of data. Today, it is detected, but all data is gone: (EDIT at least some data is still there, but the partition table is gone) ...
6
votes
4answers
328 views

Any advice on what to do when getting a cryptic blue screen in windows?

What are some steps that you usually take? Are there any good ways of finding out what they mean etc.? For example I have gotten these ones where it pretty much only says "IRQ less or equal to" (or ...
6
votes
4answers
1k views

Why are Microsoft based programs unable to resolve host names?

When I go to Google by IP I get: When I go to Google by domain name I get: This is confirmed by Windows Live Messenger: However, Firefox just works fine: When I do a DNS lookup I get this ...
6
votes
2answers
2k views

Where to find Ubuntu One logs

Ubuntu one does not synchronize files since I upgraded from 9.10 to 10.04. The preferences panel keeps showing "Synchronization in progress...", but files are not downloaded from the repository. It ...
6
votes
1answer
6k views

Keyboard number pad not working

I am running Ubuntu 9, and recently I have a very strange error. My number pad on my keyboard don't work. Its not hardware since I changed the keyboard and I still have the same problem.
6
votes
4answers
331 views

Troubleshooting an mysteriously unstable machine

I have a machine with a Core i7 CPU, 12 GiB of memory, 4 hard drives and a graphics card/sound card (both add-in PCI-E). This machine is somehow unstable, and I'm wondering how to troubleshoot ...
6
votes
2answers
2k views

How do I troubleshoot computer dumps?

Once I have a dump of a computer crash/freeze, what are some tools and steps to take in order to troubleshoot crash based off of the dump itself? I am looking for tools to isolate what processes or ...
6
votes
2answers
2k views

Alternating low and high ping times on ADSL line

I have an ADSL connection at home. Pings times are usually acceptable right after rebooting the modem, between 15 and 60ms to google.com. A few minutes later they go up to 900ms or even higher up to 3 ...
6
votes
1answer
19k views

Spikes of 99% disk activity in Windows 8 Task Manager [duplicate]

For some reason Windows 8's Task Manager reports spikes of 99% disk activity for hours at a time. Looking at the entries in that column, however, data doesn't seem to be getting written any more ...
6
votes
6answers
5k views

Why is my router not routing?

Starting a week and half ago my router stopped working with my cable modem. I went to sleep with it working and woke up with it not. I swapped in another router and am still having issues; I was ...
5
votes
5answers
140k views

How can I “turn on wireless capability” in Windows 7?

On my laptop I have a strange bug or something that fairly frequently causes wireless networking to become spontaneously disabled. Network connections drop out & all available APs disappear. ...
5
votes
5answers
38k views

How can I completely disable tablet functions in Windows 7?

I'm the owner of an HP Pavillion tx2120us tablet PC, which has a known problem of making the cursor jump to the lower right corner of the screen. I've narrowed the problem down to the pen tablet ...
5
votes
3answers
10k views

How do I troubleshoot a slow hard drive?

My computer is suffering of slow-downs and I'm not surprised (it's around 6 years old). Here's what I've verified: They are not very frequent (only a couple of times a day). When they happen a ...
5
votes
4answers
1k views

PC freezes after repeated clicking noises

I have an oldish PC (Athlon XP 2200, WinXP). Every time I switch it on, I hear a loud "click" first of all, and when it is shut down, again a click is the last sound I hear. Lately it started to ...
5
votes
6answers
1k views

Can a grounding problem damage computers immediately?

Can a grounding problem damage computers immediately ? I have transferred my office. New office did not have grounding. I tried to boot 4 computers. Two of them booted. One of them hung while ...
5
votes
3answers
4k views

Windows XP doesn't actually recursively change attributes

This should probably go into the question about Windows Annoyances, but can anyone explain why this happens, and how to fix it? I right-click on a folder, select properties, and uncheck the ...