Clean Computer Errors – Basic Troubleshooting Guide

A host of computer errors can often create hindrances for you and lead upto a depressing situation. Errors are inevitable and they can’t be avoided. An error is most likely caused by either a bug with one of the installed applications, some sort of corruption in system Registry entries or perhaps missing data files. On the other hand it may turn out to be a hardware incompatibility issue as well. The solution may depend on underlying issues.

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Software Issues

System File Checker

This tool scans all protected Operating System files, including shared system DLLs. Errors caused due to missing DLL files will be easily fixed. Some exceptions exist though. Notable ones include software applications installed through setups (example: installations from DVD ROM or USB Drives), Windows Store apps etc.

  1. Fire up Command Prompt with administrative privileges. (Use Windows Key + X > Select the relevant option)
  2. Here are some alternatives:
  • To identify problems with protected OS components, use “SFC /ScanNow”
  • To identify problems with protected OS components on a one-off basis at the next system bootup, use “SFC /ScanOnce”
  • To identify problems with protected OS components once at every system bootup, use “SFC /ScanBoot”
  • To return scan to factory configurations, use “SFC /Revert”
  • To purge cache contents, use “SFC /PURGECACHE”
  • To change cache size, use “SFC /CACHESIZE=x” (x indicates the new cache size; which should be a numeric value)

Restore System Settings

This is a method to undo recent system changes that might have affected how your operating system and applications behave. In some cases, either one or both of these (operating system and applications) may behave unexpectedly after changes to Registry entries or special directories containing your application data files, typically stored in C:\Users\[Your_User_Name]\AppData\Local.

  1. Type and open “View advanced system settings” using the Search feature of your Start Screen.
  2. You may find the “System Restore” button under System Protection tab.
  3. Click Next on the Welcome page of the newly opened tool.
  4. Do you find any system generated restore points? If yes, choose the restore point created prior to the installation of problematic application.
  5. Click the “Scan for affected programs” button to figure out if the application you’re trying to diagnose is listed. If you aren’t experiencing issues with any particular app, and rather the operating system is causing issues, there is no need to check out the affected apps list.
  6. Click Next.
  7. Follow the on-screen instructions. A system reboot is required at the end.

Boot in Diagnostic Startup

In the Diagnostic Startup mode, a predefined set of system startup components and services are loaded. Problematic issues over here include a missing shortcut to an executable file/ module, an incompatible driver, a faulty application software etc.

  • To use the Diagnostic Startup Mode, type “MSCONFIG” in the Run dialog (Windows Key + R) > General tab > Diagnostic startup > Apply > OK.
  • To individually figure out and disable apps, type “startup” in the Start Screen > Search; and click “See which processes start up automatically when you start Windows” from Search Results.

Safe Boot

You may, alternatively, activate the “Safe Boot” feature that loads your computer into what was earlier known as “Safe Mode”. To do so, check the box named “Safe boot” in the Boot tab of the same MSCONFIG tool.

Once you’re logged in with limited functionalities, you shouldn’t encounter the error. Now you can safely rollback the changes you’ve made.

Troubleshoot Compatibility Issues

Software compatibility is the ability of the Operating System and the Application Software to work together in harmony to ensure a seamless operation without encountering any runtime errors. It goes well as long as same data formats are used and no unsupported features are enabled. The easiest way to prevent compatibility issues is to use the Compatibility Troubleshooter feature. You may, however, manually change the way your program works.

  1. Right click on the Desktop shortcut of the app that is encountering the incompatibility error.
  2. Choose Troubleshoot compatibility.
  3. It should automatically start detecting issues with the concerning app. Wait for the diagnosis to be completed and the results to be displayed..
  4. Now you have two options, namely “Try recommended settings” and “Troubleshoot program”. Choose the former one first. If it doesn’t fix your problem, load the wizard again and now you can try out the latter method.

To manually change compatibility settings, follow these guidelines:

  1. Right click on the Desktop shortcut of the app that is encountering the incompatibility error.
  2. Under the Compatibility tab you will notice several options.
  3. Choose to run your program in “Windows Vista” OS Mode, and then configure other settings relating to the color mode, screen resolution, display scaling and administrative privileges.

Hardware Issues

Memory Diagnostic

Your Random Access Memory (RAM) may have developed a critical fault that might require replacing it with a new one. However, before we come to any conclusion let us first scan the memory using Windows Memory Diagnostic tool prior to the boot interval.

  1. Press Windows Key + X; choose Search.
  2. Type “memory” in Search box; open “Windows Memory Diagnostic”.
  3. Click on the “Restart now and check for problems” button to initiate scan at the next boot interval followed by an immediate reboot.

Hard Disk Issues

This tool will enable you to monitor SMART attributes of your HDD if you suspect the error is caused due to bad sectors. There are two ways to do so – either use command-lines through Command Prompt or use the Graphical Interface.

Command-line Instructions

To check integrity of your drive, use:

  • chkdsk <drive letter>:

Example

  • chkdsk E:

To scan and fix disk read/ write issues, use:

  • chkdsk /f <drive letter>:

Example:

  • chkdsk /f E:
Using Graphical Interface
  1. Open File Explorer in your Windows 10 laptop; or Windows Explorer in case of Windows 8.1/ 8/ 7/ Vista.
  2. On the left-hand side panel you will see a list of all drives. Right click your system drive, for example, drive C: and choose Properties.
  3. Initiate the process from Tools tab > Checkup > Scan Drive.