Ever wondered what kind of computer issues that you could run into during your computer’s lifespan? Every computer user is bound to experience some sort of computer hardware issue. Each part of the computer works together to function, so once one part starts to fail, it is quite noticeable in your computing experience.
From our technical experience, we’ve found that some common computer issues come from the hard drive, motherboard, or the keyboard. All these hardware faults could cause various disruptions in performance and functioning. In this guide we will cover the different error messages and issues that come with hardware failure.
Hard drive failure
Whether you have a hard disk drive (HDD), solid-state drive (SSD, flash storage), or a combination of the two, you will likely experience a hard drive failure. Hard drive issues are very common in the world of technology. This is mostly because they generally don’t last very long. While SSDs are less prone to damage compared to HDDs, they are still vulnerable to bad sectors. If you’re familiar with what bad sectors are, then you’ll know that they are unavoidable.
Why do hard drives fail?
Hard drives are made quite sturdy, but can still get damaged from physical damage. Or they can also be damaged from software issues. These two types of damage can cause hard and soft bad sectors. Physical damage like blunt force, or air and dust contamination increases your chances of getting hard bad sectors. They will have to be marked off the drive so it doesn’t try to read and write on there. Software issues like viruses or improper shutdown while the drive is writing information would then cause soft bad sectors.
All this does sound quite daunting, but not to worry, a small amount of bad sectors is totally fine. In fact, every hard drive ships with a tiny amount of bad sectors. As long as it is only in a small part of the drive, you’re good. But when bad sectors accumulate and spread out on the drive, it is intolerable and the drive will start to fail. And this type of failure can definitely show in various ways, depending on how far gone the drive is.
What hard drive failure can look like
Unlike straightforward computer errors like screen or keyboard damage, hard drive failure can come in varied ways. Luckily with our computer repair experience, we can recognise a few of these signs and know where to look. Some of them are pretty apparent, so you can also figure them out yourself.
Your hard drive is usually used as the boot drive. This means that it is essential for starting up your laptop or desktop computer. Not only does it contain all your files, it also contains the operating system (OS) and necessary boot files. Without them, your device won’t run at all. So a faulty hard drive could get you computer startup issues.
These sort of startup issues come with system error messages like “no bootable device”, or “operating system not found”. All this just means that the boot files are either corrupted or lost from hard drive damage. With this, the system will have trouble starting up, or won’t start up at all. Sometimes startup repair can fix startup errors. But when the drive is too far gone, it may not work.
While data corruption can occur to boot files, other files on the hard drive can also get corrupted. An accumulation of bad sectors could also slow down your computer, as writing and reading processes get interrupted with these damaged parts of the drive. Keeping regular backups of the files that you need could be a smart way to combat sudden data loss.
How to fix a faulty hard drive
When you do find that your hard drive is faulty, the solution is pretty straightforward: replace it! A hard drive replacement is a fairly easy repair job to do. It can also be a simple way to refresh your computer. You could also consider getting an upgrade to a better performing drive, or an upgrade from an HDD to and SSD. This can get you the performance boost you’ve been looking for in your computing experience.
But first, we do need to test the hard drive before repairing it. You can start with built-in utilities like chdsk or pre-boot diagnostics, then move on to extensive tests on dedicated software. That way you can thoroughly detect and confirm hard drive issues. Because sometimes, even though you think you’re sure about something, it could be some other issue on your computer. Learn more about common hard drive error messages and how to fix them in our guide here.
While motherboard failure can happen a lot, it can be very hard to detect and repair, even for computer technicians themselves. The motherboard, or logic board, connects all the parts of the computer together. It is like the nervous system of the entire computer. Signals are sent from the processor through the motherboard for the rest of the system to work properly together.
So you can probably imagine what would happen if the motherboard stopped working. Without the motherboard as the nervous system, none of the components can communicate with each other. Most of the time, this would lead to the computer’s inability to turn on. When it does turn on, it might not even start booting up at all.
Why do motherboards fail?
Motherboards usually get damaged by physical accidents or natural wear and tear. This kind of physical damage could corrode or rust the connective points of the motherboard.
When a computer is not properly cooled down and has blocked fans due to dust accumulation or faulty fans, overheating may occur. Not only does an overheated computer work less efficiently, the undispersed heat can also warp the motherboard. So you might want to make sure that your computer is clean and can cool itself properly and efficiently.
Another common thing that quickly kills a motherboard is liquid spill damage. We’d like to say that spilling a drink is something that can be avoided, but sometimes it just happens. Or you might have left it out in the rain by accident. Liquid spill usually gets to the keyboard first, then seeps into the motherboard. It can cause rust or even corrosion on the circuits, depending on what kind of liquid was spilled. Read more about liquid spill damage and what not to do when you’ve spilled on your laptop here. Definitely don’t reach for that rice now.
What a motherboard failure can look like
Motherboard failures are sometimes not as clear as hard drive failures can be. There are still some signs that could point you in the right direction. So you’ll have an idea to test which component first.
When your computer does not turn on at all and seems to be dead, this could be a sign that the motherboard is dead as well. Sometimes it does turn on, but does not pass the Power-On Self Test. Not passing POST means there is something seriously wrong that the computer will not start to boot at all. A more apparent sign would also be the computer not turning on after getting liquid spilled on it.
Some specific laptop models also have some signs that point to a motherboard issue. Incredibly dim screens on Apple Macbook Air and Macbook Pro laptops is an example of this. The LED screen brightness on these laptops is controlled by the logic board. So when it is not lit properly, the logic board is probably malfunctioning.
Certain Dell laptop charger lights could also be an indicator of motherboard failures. From our repair experience, we’ve found that when the charger is plugged in and both the charger light and the laptop doesn’t turn on, the problem is usually a faulty motherboard. There’s not really a reason for this, it’s just something we’ve noticed over time.
How to fix a faulty motherboard
As motherboard errors are so hard to detect, thorough testing should definitely be done to confirm a motherboard fault. As there is no specific test for motherboard diagnostics, we’ll have to test it out by eliminating other components. This would be either the RAM or GPU, which may require some disassembly. Especially when your laptop or desktop computer does not turn on at all. When you do find that your motherboard is faulty, you can replace the entire board to fix it. Some repairs may also allow you to only replace small parts of the motherboard. To find out how to test and repair a faulty motherboard, read our guide here.
Laptop keyboards are also quite easy to break, as they are moving parts that have gaps in between. Sometimes the keys might come loose or not work at all. These days laptops are designed to be more advanced and travel-friendly, so parts are usually made thinner. This is also the case for keyboards on modern laptops like Ultrabooks. They are generally harder to repair and easier to break.
Keyboards are also prone to rust and dust damage, due to the gaps between keys. Air and dust can get in the keyboard and wear out keys. This includes liquid spill damage as well. If not kept in a cool and dry environment, an unused keyboard may also fail as well.
To fix a damaged keyboard, you’ll need to get it replaced. The thing is, even if you want to fix a keyboard with only one worn out key, you have to replace the whole keyboard. With this, we have to take out everything else to get to the keyboard. And because of certain thin designs, taking out a keyboard for a replacement can sometimes be quite tricky. Something like the butterfly keyboard on Apple Macbooks are especially difficult to repair due to their intricate and thin design.
Healthy computing habits
So now you know what can happen to your computer, now’s the time to think about precautions. Keeping regular habits could help you be prepared for any eventual computer failure.
Back up data
For the safe storage of your data in case of any data loss, we recommend regularly backing up data. The more the better, actually. You may also store it both online and on an external hard drive. That way your precious files are protected against data loss or corrupt when your hard drive starts to fail.
Ensure proper ventilation and cooling
Overheating is not only bad for the motherboard, it can also harm other parts of the computer. So make sure your laptop vents are clear of obstruction and no dust has accumulated in the fan. That way your system can efficiently disperse heat for normal computer functioning.
Getting a professional repair
Suspecting that you have computer hardware issues? You may be thinking of taking it to a repair shop to avoid all the hassle. That way you can get a professional opinion about fixing your laptop or desktop computer. A brand authorised service centre or a third-party repair service might be where you’re headed.
An authorised service centre can usually get you specialised free service. That is as long as your warranty or care plan is still valid, of course. Still sometimes you might not be able to get a repair. You might not be able to get repairs that involve obsolete devices, liquid spill damage, or complete motherboard replacements. That would probably get you to try out a third-party repair service.
We’re here to help! At Safemode Computer Service, we can offer you a free checkup and quote when you bring your computer to us. Is your brand authorised service centre too far away? If you are in Inner West Sydney, consider us! We are in the heart of the Inner West, in Enmore. With our expert technicians and highly-rated service, we can definitely help with your computer repair needs. Give us a call at 1800 85 83 82.