Are you frustrated when your PC beeps, gives an error message and doesn't do what you want it to? We explain what these problems are and how to fix them
Like a certain chocolate bar, PCs should help you work, rest and play. However, at times, they can seem like more of a hindrance than a help. Strange beeps, incomprehensible error messages and other odd happenings can be all too frequent, making computing a frustrating experience.
The internet isn’t always much help either, as much of the advice available is conflicting, unclear or just plain wrong.
But help is at hand. Here we explain how to eliminate dozens of common PC gremlins – the annoying error messages you encounter every day.
We have split the problems into four broad categories to cover everything from switching on your PC to powering down, along with a few unusual glitches. We have even included lots of general troubleshooting advice to aid the hunt for cures to problems we haven’t covered.
ERRORS AFTER POWERING ON
Two or more beeps
Switch a PC on and, when the start-up screen appears, a short beep may be heard (though not in all cases). However, if there is more than a single beep, and the screen stays blank, there could be a problem.
Typically, this indicates a problem with the graphics card, memory modules or the processor but regardless, turn off the PC immediately.
The chances are that one or more of these components has either failed, been dislodged (have you moved the PC recently?) or overheated due to the failure of a cooling fan.
The only way to check is to open the PC’s case and take a look around – sometimes removing and replacing the graphics card or memory modules will fix the problem.
Check all the fans turn on when the power is turned on – a broken processor or graphics card fan is often to blame for overheating.
The Computeractive videos and articles on upgrading memory in a notebook, upgrading the memory in a desktop computer and the build your own PC will help you find your way around the PC or notebook’s insides.
Start-up error messages
Common error messages just after switching on a PC include ‘Missing operating system’, ‘Operating system not found’, ‘Non-system disk or disk error’ and ‘NTLDR is missing’.
If any of these pops up on your PC’s display, first, remove all CDs, DVDs, floppy disks, USB drives and memory cards from the PC. The reason is that it is likely the PC is trying to launch itself from a disk that doesn’t contain Windows.
If this doesn’t fix the problem, it could be a hard disk failure or, more likely, a corrupted Windows installation (and if the message ‘Missing or corrupt Windows root/system32/hal.dll’ appears, it’s almost certainly the latter).
Windows 7 and Vista users should try fixing this using the Startup Repair tool: start the PC with the Windows installation disc inserted in the drive, choose a language and click the ‘Repair your computer’ option.
Repairing a Windows XP installation is a little more complex and involves using the Recovery Console: click here to follow Computeractive's step-by-step guide to fixing the 'missing or corrupt' error message.
Updating your subscription status