Problem of the week

Tips & Hints

My computer has errors when it starts.

17 July 2001

Computer error messages can range from harmless whingeing that some program hasn't been uninstalled properly right through to a serious warning that you computer is about to fail. It is best to track down and remove any error messages that appear on your computer.

The first thing to do is to find what is causing it. Make a note of the error message and do a search on the Internet for that error message. It is unlikely you are the first to see the error message and it could be something very simple to fix.

Most start-up error messages are due to errant programs. To check this start a Windows computer in Safe Mode, or a Mac with extensions off. On Macs and later Windows computers hold the shift key down as the computer starts, Windows 95 needs the F5 key held down. If the error message doesn't appear then there is a program or hardware setting that is causing the problem. If the problem is still there in Safe Mode or without extensions, then you need to call a technician.

If it is a program causing the problem the error message should give you a strong clue to which program it is. If you can identify it, remove it from the startup. To remove a Windows 98 or later startup program click start>run then type msconfig and click enter, in the msconfig screen click the startup tab and remove the tick from the program causing the problem. Mac users should disable the offending extension in the extensions manager or drag the program causing the problem from the startup folder.

If the problem doesn't appear obvious, remove any programs or hardware that were installed around the time the problem started. If you have uninstalled the program, and are still getting messages, try re-installing it. Sometimes a faulty installation causes the problems. Often hardware and software companies have fixes available for known problems so it is worthwhile contacting them or looking at their web sites.

If you can't fix it call a technician or help line, Don't start playing with settings and programs you don't understand. Make sure to keep notes of all the error messages and things you have done to find or fix the problem. The more information you can give the technician, the sooner the problem will be fixed.

While many errors are harmless, some are warnings of serious problems. If error messages are getting more frequent or seem to involve more programs then it is time to fix them or get someone to have a look at them. Don't leave it until the computer stops completely, leaving repairs until they are too late is usually the most costly option.

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