Troubleshooting a Broken Computer

When computers fail, we are helpless. Sometimes, the failure is due to a virus attack. However, other hardware failures could be the source of the problem. With new computers, some simple hardware component replacements fix ailing computers. These are simple replacements that anyone can do with a screwdriver and patience. The failed component to replace is the power supply, the hard disk drive, or a forgotten CD or DVD drive.

Troubleshooting a Broken Computer 1

This article helps you determine the source of the computer failure so that if it is a simple problem, you can repair your computer. Alternatively, you would know when to have a professional help you improve your computer after the problem is identified. Let us start from scratch. In this case, we have our malfunctioning computer powered off. The first step is to power it on and observe. When the power button is hit, do lights light up on the computer? Some lights lamp when power is applied on both tower computers and laptop computers.

A good idea is to take a picture of your computer when it is running properly, so it helps you remember how it looks, what lights are lighted, and the lights’ color. A green or blue light often indicates good power to the computer. Orange lights indicate a malfunction and suggest that the computer has power somewhere.


When there are no lights, the power supply is likely to be the source of the failure. Laptop external transformers can be tested and replaced. They run under $100. There are aftermarket replacements. The next test for a laptop and a desktop computer is to use a new external laptop transformer or a new power supply to test for the failed power supply. Power supplies for desktop computers are available online and from local stores.

They also cost around $100. A new collection does not need to be installed in a computer to test the power supply. Instead, just lay the laptop on its side with the chassis open, place the new power supply on top of the old power supply, disconnect the old connector, and connect the equivalent connector into the computer one power supply connector at a time. Once the new power supply is connected, try powering on the computer. This tests the power supply. A new power supply that provides more watts is fine.

This means a 500 W power supply can replace a 300 W one. It is best not to reduce power supply wattage (replace a 500 W power supply with a 300 W power supply), but it is OK to increase it. Power connections to floppy disk drives can easily short out the power supply when the connector is not plugged in precisely.

If the computer does not turn on, then disconnect the floppy drive power and try with the floppy drive power disconnected. Finally, all power supply connections are keyed and have a connector clip. When connecting the power connectors, make sure the connector clip is lined up correctly. If the new transformer does not fix the laptop’s computer power, you can return the laptop to the manufacturer for repairs or buy a new laptop.

If you buy a new laptop, the data can be removed from the old laptop’s hard disk drive and moved to the new laptop’s hard disk drive. With a desktop PC, un-bolt the old power supply and bolt in the new one. Replacing the power supply in a computer is cleaner and easier than replacing the spark plugs in a car.

Now, let us return to our troubleshooting. The next possible error indication is that the computer does not boot and has no display. Monitors have a light on the bottom right. The computer sends a video signal to the monitor when this light is green. If the light is large, the computer does not send a video signal to the monitor.

When no video signal is sent to the monitor, it indicates that the problem resides in the computer hardware. This suggests that we look inside the computer and check the Main Logic Board (MLB) capacitors (these are round tower-like components that stick up from the MLB). Main Logic Boards fail when they are five years or older due to the capacitors on the MLB failing. The capacitors burst to cause a complete failure of the MLB. When this occurs, the solution is to purchase a new computer.

Roberto Brock
the authorRoberto Brock
Snowboarder, traveler, DJ, Swiss design-head and HTML & CSS lover. Doing at the nexus of art and purpose to develop visual solutions that inform and persuade. I'm a designer and this is my work. Introvert. Coffee evangelist. Web buff. Extreme twitter advocate. Avid reader. Troublemaker.