16 PC mysteries solved!

Our digital detectives uncover the truth behind some of tech's most baffling questions.

By Alex Wawro, PC World |  Hardware, HDTV, PCs

Why does my new monitor randomly go blank when I plug in an HDMI cable?

This problem occasionally crops up when an HDMI cable fails to sync up correctly with your display port. Since HDMI is a digital interface, it incorporates a security measure called the High Definition Content Protection protocol that is designed to discourage illegal duplication of media transmitted via the cable.

When you plug an HDMI cable into your PC, the cable verifies that everything is legit by exchanging a sequence of numbers unique to that device with the port; this process is commonly referred to as handshaking. But if a device transmits an incorrect HDCP sequence, the HDMI cable will not work properly.

Though your monitor may be malfunctioning, the likelier reason why your display occasionally blacks out when you plug in an HDMI cable and then comes back on 5 to 10 seconds later is that your devices are completing the HDCP handshake. The same thing can happen when you bring your monitor back from sleep mode, as the HDCP handshake protocol must be completed every time your HDMI cable comes back up to full voltage.

HDMI devices occasionally fail the HDCP handshake due to a transmission error or a surge in voltage, so if your monitor blacks out and stays black when you plug in an HDMI cable, switch inputs to HDMI, or bring the monitor back from sleep mode, you'll probably have to power-cycle your display or completely restart your PC.

Why does my OS hide some of my critical system files?

The goal is to make it harder for untrained users to modify or delete them, and thereby cause a system error. The precaution is sensible because most people shouldn't tamper with those files (like config.sys).

If you're curious to see what files and folders are hidden on your Windows PC, here's how to peek behind the curtain.

Open Windows Explorer, and navigate to Tools, Folder Options under the File menu. Windows Vista and Windows 7 disable this menu by default; to make it appear, hold down the Alt key. After opening the Folder Options menu, select the View tab and click the Advanced Setting menu; then find the setting that controls how Windows handles hidden files and folders. Enable the Show Hidden Files, Folders and Drives option, and you should be able to see all of the hidden files and folders on your PC.

After finding the file you were looking for and making all necessary changes, consider disabling the option. Leaving your critical system files visible in Windows Explorer in­­creases the chance that someone will accidentally move or delete one of them, leading to an even greater mystery when your PC suddenly fails to boot properly one day.

In what ways does USB 3.0 differ from USB 2.0?


Originally published on PC World |  Click here to read the original story.
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