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In order to troubleshoot memory problems we can use the memory diagnostic software’s or the beep codes. There are two methods to diagnose and troubleshoot memory related issues.
- Using BIOS beep codes.
- Using Memory Diagnostics Software.
BIOS beep codes:
The BIOS program does the POST (Power ON Self Test) testing as the system turns ON. This test is done to ensure that the system is working properly. If the computer fails to start, a long beep is generated. This beep indicates that there is a requirement to check the BIOS of the motherboard for errors.
Memory Diagnostic Software:
The memory diagnostics software enables the user to solve memory problems. Windows 7 comes with a built in memory diagnostic software which restarts the computer and switches the computer into memory diagnostic mode. You can also start the Quick Test mode to quickly test the memory for errors. If the memory shows an error such as incorrect memory sizing there must be a problem with the software setting in the CPU. The error number for this error is 164. The computer can easily fix this error using the memory diagnostic tool. If t he memory diagnostic tool does not show any error, check the motherboard, CPU and other peripheral devices.
Apart from these two there are other methods of diagnosing and troubleshooting memory issues:
- When you switch ON the computer, three beep tones are heard and then the computer stops or parity error is displayed on the screen.
Cause: This problem may occur due to improper insertion of RAM or due to defective RAM.
- Check all memory modules you have installed.
- Check for any loose connections.
- If the problem is still not solved, then remove the modules one by one, reinsert and check if the problem has solved.
- If the problem is due to some defective memory module then replace with a new working module.
- Wrong Memory Size.
Cause: If the machine shows wrong memory size when you switch ON the machine, it could be due to wrong CMOS set up information.
- Correct the values using the BIOS settings and save the configuration.
- Restart the computer.
- The memory card installed is not being recognized by the computer.
Cause: This could be due to improper installation of the memory card.
- Ensure that the card is installed properly.
- Ensure that the memory chips are not defective.
- Check that the settings on the motherboard are as given in the manual.
- Pins of memory are dirty or slot is rusty.
Cause: This could be due to dust in the memory connector and slot.
- Clean them with student eraser and try again.
- Clean the slot with brush.
- Wash them with pure alcohol and try again.
Hardware such as hard disks, chips and memory packages generally show problems due to aging. The hardware errors can also occur due to bad soldering performed while mounting the components on the motherboard.
Understanding Device Drivers
Every device has certain specialized commands that control its functioning. Only the device driver has the knowledge of these commands. The computer interacts with the different devices with the help of these commands. The application programs and operating system of a computer send the commands to these devices. These commands are sent in a high-level programming language. The function of the device driver is to act as a translation medium between the device and the operating system of the computer.
Troubleshooting a device driver
There are varieties of troubleshooting steps depending on the symptoms seen by a user. Some of the troubleshooting steps are explained below.
Computer does not work properly after installation of a new driver
The computer may start displaying the blue screen error or stop working properly after a new device driver have been installed. The computer may also restart randomly. This problem may also be caused because of the newly installed driver, if it is an inferior quality driver. It can also be result of incompatibility between the driver and the operating system. To solve this problem, remove or uninstall the device driver. After uninstalling the device driver, restart the computer. If the device driver is the cause, the computer may behave properly. In such a case, report the problem to the driver manufacturer. You can also try to obtain the updated version of the driver from the Microsoft Windows update website.
Computer does not update driver in memory:
If you update a device driver, the driver file must be updated in the computer memory. This does not happen in some cases. The driver file is updated in the computer memory only after you restart the computer. Additionally, the computer does not prompt you to restart after the installation process is complete. The problem can occur if:
- You have used the update device driver wizard in device manager to update the driver.
- You are updating a driver that is being used by more than one device.
To overcome this problem, manually restart your computer after you complete the installation of the updated driver.
Unable to download driver updates from the Windows update site:
You can download updates for your device drivers from the windows update site. In some cases, the installation does not succeed. This problem generally happens if there are lots of .inf files in the windows directory folder %windir%\Inf. In this case the entire INF folder is searched for updated driver files. It is only necessary to check the installed driver files. This causes the above problem. The problem can be solved by getting the latest service packs. A service pack is an update of software that contains additional features and solutions to bugs in the earlier versions of that software. The service packs help to keep the product up to date. It contains updates, administrative tools and drivers. You can download the service packs for windows operating system for Microsoft site.
Device driver error message is displayed:
When you try to take your windows computer to Hibernate mode or Standby mode, you receive an error message that states, the device driver for the PC/AT Enhanced PS2 keyboard is preventing the machine from entering the hibernation. You have to close all the applications and try again. If the problem persists, you may need to update this driver. The above error occurs when a program installs a kernel-mode driver. The Kernel-mode driver then attaches itself to the keyboard driver. To solve this problem, uninstall the program that is installing the kernel-mode driver. Then restart the computer. Contact the manufacturer of the product for an updated version of the product that is compatible with windows operating system.
A number of companies provide specialist training for IT professionals. Here in the UK, organisations such as Bytes, Paul Brown Training and Unicom deliver onsite and classroom based training in IT Technical and Desktop subjects.
Understanding Printer drivers
A printer driver is software that controls the operation of the printer. It converts the data from the computer to a format that is understood by the printer. The printer driver passes data that is to be printed, to the printer. The printer driver has to be installed for the printer to work. The printer driver can also be replaced if there are latest versions of the driver available. You can download printer driver from the printer’s manufacturer site.
Simple Printer Maintenance
Periodic checking of the printer is called the preventive maintenance. It includes maintenance of printers, systems and modems. Preventive maintenance ensures that a printer will reach its greatest potential.
Dot matrix printers
- Do not place any electronic items close to the printer.
- Do not use bad quality ribbons. These ribbons may use ink which needs lubricants or uses an acid that can hurt the print head over the time.
- Do not turn the platter head using the knob when the printer is ON. This can damage the stepper motor.
- Use the printer regularly. If it is not used then the printer ribbons will dry out.
It is economical to get the standard spares from the local electronic stores rather than ordering it by part number from the printer’s manufacturer.
- Turn OFF the printer before cleaning. Never spray cleaner on the printer itself.
- Use hand blower or a vacuum cleaner to remove dust inside the printer.
- Remove the tape on the ink cartridge before inserting it in the cartridge cradle.
- Replace the ink cartridge if the print out appears faded.
- Clean the face of the ink cartridge using a clean swab dipped in isopropyl alcohol.
- Use a swab that has isopropyl alcohol and rub on the underside of the cartridge cradle to clean it.
- Ensure that the ink cartridge is secure in the cartridge cradle before placing it in the printer.
- Do not switch ON and OFF the printer very frequently which results into nozzle clogging.
- Proper shutdown of the printer helps capping off the nozzles properly without drying the residual ink there.
- Turn OFF the printer before cleaning.
- Never spray cleaner on the printer itself.
- Use a lint free dry cloth for cleaning the inside of the printer and the paper feed guide.
- If toner gets on clothing, wipe with a dry cloth and then wash in cold water.
- Store toner in a cool, dry place as it is sensitive to changes in temperature, humidity.
- Clean the corona wire and the roller every time when changing the print toner.
- Refilled toner, cartridges work fine and save money, as long as they have only been refilled once. After that, they can become unreliable.
- Do not use envelopes and address labels in laser printers. If the glue melts during fusion, there could be expensive damage.
- Do not expose the filled toner to the sunlight as the photoreceptor drum inside it is sensitive to light and can be damaged.
Printer driver does not function properly
The printer driver can cause many printing problems. These problems are very difficult to detect and trace. This is because the printer driver is very complex software. A problematic printer driver can cause some fonts or formats to cause errors while printing, while others work fine. Some of the possible symptoms are:
- Appearance of block boxes all over the print out.
- Formation of nonsensical characters in the print out.
- The application crashes as the printing progresses.
- Missing characters or lines in a printout
Junk or unknown characters printout.
- Update the printer driver. For this, contact the printer manufacturer or download the driver from their site.
- If an uploaded driver is not available, try to find a printer driver that is compatible with the printer.
- Install the new printer driver.
Instability in a new computer system
A newly assembled computer may show problems like frequent error messages and problems while starting up. These problems can be caused by variety of reasons like loose connections or incorrect settings. Some of the problems can be caused due to the motherboard.
- Check all connections and cables on the motherboard. The connections must be tight and must be placed properly.
- Ensure that the motherboard with the CPU, video card and the memory is properly connected to the power supply.
- Check the system temperature and ensure that heat sink and fan are working properly.
- Check if the power supply is loaded with more devices and components than it can handle. If you have upgraded your system or added a device, the power supply must be able to handle it.
- The system memory may have failed. Check the system memory and ensure that is connected and configured properly. Also check if the memory is compatible with the motherboard.
- Check the jumper settings on the motherboard. Inspect the CPU for any problems.
- Check the BIOS settings and ensure that they are correct. Set the BIOS settings as default.
- Inspect the expansion cards on motherboard for proper correction and configuration.
- Ensure that the hard disk drives have proper jumper settings.
- Check the IRQ settings of the system for any conflicts that can arise during system assembly or addition of new hardware.
If your cache is corrupt or incompatible, it may lead to motherboard problems. Disable cache in BIOS. If the system works properly, then the cache was faulty.If the system does not work properly, check if the cache is installed properly.
When switched ON, the system only beeps or shows POST error
- Check POST messages and correct the problem if possible.
- Check for perfect connection of socketed chips such as memory modules, BIOS and keyboard controller, CPU etc.
- Temporary remove the network cards and other PCI cards from the Motherboard.
- If the problem is solved, then replace card one by one and each time check for the actual fault area.
- Remove and reset all essential expansion cards and check the interconnecting cables.
Intermittent crashing/stopping of system
- Check if the crashing of system occurs only when specific software is executed.
- Check for any IRQ conflicts if present then reconfigure.
- Remove and reinsert expansion cards and interconnecting cables.
- Run diagnostic utility for identifying any hardware problem.
Check for over clock of the processor or bus
- System fails displaying parity error.
- Run any of the advanced diagnostics programs or software available and try to find out the fault.
- Identify and replace the memory module.
Motherboard has a crack.
- If your motherboard is new, the crack may have been caused due to pure handling during delivery. In this case, contact the manufacturer and get the motherboard exchanged.
- If motherboard is an old one, inspect the mounting of motherboard on the system case. IF the motherboard bends under pressure, add plastic supports to support it.
- Do not screw the motherboard very firmly on the plate in order to avoid the cracking of the board.