How to self-troubleshoot & fix common computer problems

Filed under: Computing Tips,Tech Support - May 26 2014

Updated October 2019:

If your computer is slow or freezing up, your internet is not working or you can’t print – before calling for help there’s often some troubleshooting you can do that will likely fix the problem. Please click the “Print This Article” link below and keep the printed page near your computer for future reference.

• Computer not powering on? Unplug the power cord to your computer for at least 30 seconds, then plug it back in and see if it will then turn on via the power button. If it’s a laptop with a removable battery, remove the battery for 30 seconds.

• Computer freezing up, non-responsive or showing you error messages? Turn off or restart your computer. This will often fix problems by clearing out the computer’s temporary memory and giving the computer a fresh start. If your computer will not shut off normally you can press and hold the power button on the computer until it shuts off (usually after about 5 seconds).

Modem power cord

• Can’t connect to the internet? Are all the lights on your high-speed internet modem and/or router lit and their normal color? If not, turning off or unplugging the power to your modem and/or router for a minute will often fix internet connection problems. If you have a router, power-on your high-speed internet modem first – wait a minute for all the lights to come on – then power-on your router. If all the lights on your router and/or modem look normal, then maybe it’s a problem with your internet browser (see the next step).

• Do certain or all web pages not display normally? It could be a problem with your web/internet browser. The most common web browsers are Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Apple Safari and AOL Desktop. If a web page does not display normally (or at all) in your usual web browser, try using a different browser to go to the website(s) that are not working.

• Printer not working? If nothing happens when you try to print, make sure you are printing to the correct printer. If there is no communication between the computer and printer, turn off the printer then back on. Otherwise, unplug the power to the printer, then plug it back in.
Printed pages are blank, have streaks not printing all colors? Print this test page, then compare the printed output vs. what you see on your screen. You may need to clean the printer’s print heads or change the ink(s). Refer to your printer manual for instructions.

• Having problems with sending or receiving email? If you use an email program such as Windows Mail, Outlook or Apple Mail, check to see if you’re able to send/receive email via your webmail – see below for the web address for the most common email services*. If it appears that only some of your email is coming in or out, try sending an email to yourself to see if you receive it back. We recommend having email with more than one provider for times when one of your email services may not be working. You can sign up for a free email account with Google’s Gmail, or Microsoft’s

* Type the following address into your web browser address bar to access the webmail version of common email providers:
Yahoo or AT&T/Yahoo Mail:
AOL mail:
Charter/Spectrum email:
Microsoft Hotmail/

If the above steps do not solve your problem, please contact Computer Techs. See our website for contact information or call the number on your tech’s business card.

Also read: Have a backup plan for everything: Why you shouldn’t bundle all of your services with one provider

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