May 26, 2012, 7:35 AM — According to the universal law articulated by Edward Murphy--we're not closely related--anything that can go wrong will go wrong. And when the wrong thing happens to your desktop PC, it can plunge you into a nightmare of unknown but seemingly malevolent forces. It's pretty easy to tell that something has gone wrong with your system. What once was fast is now slow; what once worked is now blue-screening; what once smelled okay or sounded fine now imparts the odor of overheated plastic or the screech of grinding metal gears.
Often, you have no idea how to cure what ails your system--or how severe the damage might be to your data or your hardware.
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It's difficult to solve all possible system problems via the written word, as individual situations may vary just enough to make generalized advice problematic. However, if you're looking for some generally useful ideas on why your computer is misbehaving--and some potential fixes for certain common and unpleasant problems you might encounter--look no further than this handy troubleshooting guide to ten all-too-frequent system malfunctions.
Remember: If it looks like a software issue, the nuclear option is to save your data, wipe your drive, and reinstall your operating system. If it's a hardware issue, a trip to the store might be in your future.
My Hard Drive Is Making Grinding Noises
Uh-oh. There are several reasons why your hard drive might be making odd noises: The heads might be bumping the spinning platters, or the heads might be unable to find the data they're looking for (due to disk errors or a problem with the head itself), resulting in an audible clicking sound as the disk resets and tries to read the data once again.
Even if you know nothing else about hard drives, you need to know this: Unpleasant noises (including the infamous "Click of Death") are an early sign that your drive is nearing the end of its life. It could die in 5 minutes or in five weeks. So back up your files to external storage as soon as you can--before the files become unreachable--and start scanning your favorite retailers for deals on drives.
My Computer Takes Minutes to Respond When I Click Something