5. Step 4 - Finding Solutions

Once you have narrowed down the problem, you have a much better chance of finding the solution.

5.1. Vital Statistics!

Before you start seeking a solution or contacting a help desk, you should collect together some basic details about your hardware and software. Some potential solutions may only be relevant for certain types of system or software versions. The most useful information includes:

  • Computer make and model (e.g. Viglen Contender II, Mac Powerbook 520)

  • Processor type (e.g. Pentium II, Core 2 Duo)

  • Amount of memory (RAM) installed (e.g.. 1GB RAM)

  • Hard disk capacity and amount of free space (e.g. 70 GB and 20 MB)

  • Operating system version (e.g. Windows Vista Home edition, Mac OS 10.5)

  • Application version if relevant (e.g. Word 2007)

In Windows 95/98/NT most of this information may be obtained by right-clicking on the My Computer or various disk-drive icons and choosing the Properties option. Within an application, the Help/About... menu option usually includes version information.

On older PC systems, the MS-DOS utility MSD run from the command prompt displays a useful variety of system information.

On the Apple Macintosh, the About... option on the Apple menu gives basic system information. Disk size/free-space information is given when you view a disk's contents in an icon view.

You should also be able to give the precise symptoms of your problem, e.g.

"When I use the File/SaveAs option with a particular document in Word 97, the program crashes and displays the message 'GPF at location 0001234:32 in module MSFILE.DLL'. Other documents behave OK on my system, and the problem document behaves normally on other machines running Word97"

rather than

"I can't save files on my PC"

5.2. Hardware problems

  • For machines still under warranty, the supplier or manufacturer may have a telephone help-line. If they have a web-site, it may give details of UK phone numbers for getting help - see our list of hardware manufacturers' support pages.

  • If your computer has been registered with the University's Microcomputer Maintenance Scheme, then contact the service company direct to request an engineer call-out. (Note, you cannot register with this scheme if your machine is already faulty!)

  • If your machine is out of warranty and not registered on a maintenance scheme, then if a repair is needed you will probably need to use a suitable hardware service centre - the manufacturer may be able to suggest a service agent.

5.3. Software Problems

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