DIY Computer Diagnosis: Solve your PC Problems Like a Pro

Before you rush off to an expert that will charge you an arm and a leg to solve your computer issues, here are a few things you can try at home that can help you figure out what’s causing these PC problems.

Start Simple

Most of the time, if you ask someone for help with a tech problem they will usually start by asking: “Did you try switching it off and then on again?” This isn’t just a go-to solution, it’s been proven that most computer issues can be solved by simply restarting the PC. Sometimes when a computer encounters a system or software issue, the act of restarting causes it to reset the functions for the software and therefore corrects the problem that it was encountering.

Check your Connections

If you are working on a cloud-based system for file or project sharing and experience slow operational speeds, then there might be some problems with your Internet connection. There’s a few simple ways to check for problems with your Internet connection. You can start by running a troubleshoot function — right click on your Internet connection icon in your taskbar and select the option to troubleshoot. Once the computer runs its own diagnostics, it will display what the problem and possible solutions are. If troubleshooting doesn’t work, then you can try resetting your router. Just like with restarting a computer, resetting a router can trigger a reset function and restore your connection and speed to normal.

However, the Internet is not the only connection issue that you might experience. There are times when you can be working on a project and suddenly you will see a message that the drive or location of the project cannot be found or recognized. This error message usually appears when a hard drive has either been corrupted or has lost connection with your computer. If you are working with external drives, you can easily check them by unplugging them and plugging them back into your computer, or even into another computer if possible, to see if they work on other systems. This can help you isolate the issue so that you can determine whether it’s the drive or your computer that is causing the issue. Swapping out your connection cable is another possible solution, since cables tend to wear out the quickest.

Connection issues are often the simplest to identify and solve.

If you are working with internal drives, start by check your system’s Device Manager to ensure the drives are being properly recognized. Companies like Western Digital and Seagate also make free software that allows you to locate and identify the problem with your hard drive and offers solutions to those problems.  However, pay attention when choosing the software you use as most drive testers will only work on hard drives from the same company. 

If the drive you’re looking for is missing from the connected devices list and your disk utility software isn’t helping, you can carefully open up your PC and check to see if the connecting cables are plugged in properly — but be careful of static any time your computer case is open. If the cables are connected properly but you are still experiencing issues, you may have a corrupted drive. Replacing it is is simple enough, but if you care about the data saved on that drive, you may need more advanced assistance to recover it.

Beyond the Basics

Connection issues are often the simplest to identify and solve. Some issues, however, aren’t so easy to ferret out. An important step to solving any problems with your computer is by identifying the issue. Make sure you have an understanding of what is happening and when. Try to replicate the issue so that you can identify the specific trigger. If you are experiencing a software freeze or crash during a particular action, you should make a note of this because it will make it easier to troubleshoot.

Many times, a certain action or request will cause a computer to carry out an incorrect process and result in a system or software crash. For example if you are compositing a visual effects shot in After Effects and the software crashes whenever you try to run a 3D camera track, then that’s the cause of the issue.

Sometimes an error can occur while multiple programs or functions are running, so being able to locate what is causing issues will be difficult. In cases like this, it is a good idea to try and isolate the various factors or components running and test them that way. For example, if you are running Adobe Premiere and DaVinci Resolve at the same time as when your issues appear, then to see which software could be causing these problems, run each program separately and carry out the function that causes whatever issue you experience.

If the error occurs when only one of the programs is running and a certain function is performed, then you will know where and when your issue occurs, which will then allow you to search for the solution easier. Once you have identified what the trigger to the issue is, you can begin to look for a solution.
Look for help.

When searching online, the search terms you use will determine how quickly you solve your computer issues. Making sure you specify what operating system you have, what version of the software you are using. Relevant details will narrow down the list of possible answers that you will receive.

Even still, knowing the terms to use is only a partial step to solving your PC issues. Having an understanding of whether the advice you find is going to help you is also very important. On many forums or support pages, users who have asked a question can leave feedback on the answers they received. Many posters will also add “Solved” to the post title when they’ve found a solution to their issue. This way, they can let other users know if they were able to solve their problems and if they had any issues while following the instructions given to them. Looking at that feedback and the experiences others have shared can help you determine if it’s advice that you should take. Cross-referencing different solutions and forum boards can also help you determine which solution is likely to be most effective.

Because there can be so many different potential causes behind your computer woes, you’re most likely to find useful advice on forum boards, where users can collectively troubleshoot issues.

Start trying things.

As smart as computers are today, they can also be incredibly idiosyncratic. That’s why identical configurations sometimes experience different problems and why solutions often work for only some users. A general method to use when solving computer issues is trial and error. If one solution doesn’t work in a certain scenario, try another and so on until you find the resolution to your computer problems.

If you have a good understanding of what problems your PC is experiencing and the possible causes, you can start to try the different solutions. Keep track of what you try out and use your notes to further isolate the issue until you can pin it on a particular piece of hardware or software process.
One aside, if you ever feel uncomfortable trying out a particular solution, do more research. Most of the time, trying out a solution won’t come with much risk, but there are some cases where you could seriously upset your computer — like deleting or editing certain system files. If a suggested solution is over your head, either look for more information or ask an expert.


If you are ever encountering issues or problems with your PC either in the form of crashes or errors, you can always look for a way to solve these problems yourself by trying to restart your system, checking your connections, searching for the triggers, then checking for online resources on how to solve these problems.

Antonio is always looking for new ways to expand his filmmaking knowledge–from cinematography to editing–there is always something new he is trying to learn. Now with feature film work under his belt, he is ready to share the knowledge he’s gathered with the world.

Antonio Pavlov
Antonio Pavlov
Antonio Pavlov is a professional freelance videographer, writer, editor and visual effects artist with over six years of experience.

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