How To Fix Common Computer Errors
If you work on a PC with any regularity, it’s no doubt that at one time or another you’ve seen the “blue screen of death” – an error from your computer that evokes anxiety and perhaps even panic for the average computer user. But what about when your computer says, “Bad command or file name” or “Fatal exception error”… or what if you get what’s known as a kernel panic? It’s a real thing, and it has nothing to do with burnt popcorn.
We can’t walk you through every conceivable error message and what it means, since there are hundreds out there. But, here are a few steps you can take to figure out what your error is and what caused it (and, of course, what to do next):
1. Before you have an error (this means now if you haven’t already), back up every important file that you store on your computer. This includes documents, photos, music, movies… anything that you would be upset or inconvenienced if it were lost and not recoverable. There are a few ways to back things up.
External hard-drive: If you have a lot of files, maintaining an external hard drive that is connected to your computer is an easy way to have everything duplicated and stored someplace else in the event that your primary computer fails. There’s no searching for your files, because they are all in one place, exactly where you put them.
Cloud storage: Especially if you’re syncing data between devices, cloud storage is a good way to ensure that nothing gets lost in the shuffle. Cloud storage can be as high-tech as a cloud server, or as easily accessible (and free) as storing your documents on Dropbox, Google Drive or other Internet-based service.
Disk storage: Certainly, if you are more comfortable with something tangible, you can always back up your files on CDs, DVDs or a large flash drive as long as you have a reliable physical location in which to store them.
2. Determine the cause of the error message. The best way to do this is to think about exactly what you were doing when the error appeared. You want to take note of what program you’re using, what version of the program you’re running and what the operation was that you were attempting to carry out when the error occurred. It’s also helpful to take note of any other software you’re running simultaneously because sometimes it’s a compatibility issue between two programs that can cause one to have problems.
3. Check for viruses. With the antivirus software you have installed, perform a scan of your system. This will hopefully eliminate errors that could have been caused by a virus or malware that might have infected your computer.
4. If the error is still occurring, do some sleuthing. Highlight the main text of the error message and cut and paste it into your search engine’s search field. Check the results for matches; often, this can lead you right to both the cause and the solution. Be wary of results coming from chat rooms or blogs, however—while sometimes they’re very helpful, remember that those are people just like you who are posting their experiences online—they are not professional computer experts. Sometimes, though, a search can lead you to Windows troubleshooting, which can give you a workable solution.
5. If all else fails, call technical support for either the software that’s not performing properly or for your computer itself. If you can provide the technician with detailed information about all of the steps above, it will help significantly in his or her being able to help you out.
Notwithstanding any of the above, though, your best defense against errors is to keep your computer regularly maintained and have a clean computer. While there are multiple ways to clean a PC and perform computer checkups, one way is to use AOL Computer Checkup. This software can help protect against errors by keeping your computer clear from unused and unnecessary files, traces of Internet browsing history and encrypting sensitive files. It will check your system settings and can improve your system settings and back-up and recover accidentally deleted files. In addition, much of this happens as regularly scheduled maintenance. By keeping your computer clean and well-maintained, you reduce the opportunity for errors.
* To avoid being charged the recurring subscription fee, simply cancel before the free-trial period ends — it's just $4.99 a month afterwards.