2. How to tell if it's a hardware or software problem

Typical Hardware-related Symptoms Typical Software-related Symptoms
  • Machine totally "dead" - no activity (lights, sound, screen information) at power on
  • Machine has started producing unusual noises
  • A visibly broken, cracked or loose-fitting part
  • Problems following liquid being spilled on machine
  • Machine getting very hot and/or randomly restarting itself
  • Machine halts part way through start-up
  • Programs misbehave or give error messages
  • Machine runs very slowly

A good test for whether a problem is hardware-related is to try and start up the machine from a suitable CD such as a Knoppix system disk (available from OUCS). If the machine then behaves properly, the problem is probably a software issue. A separate page gives more information on doing this. For older machines with floppy-disk drives, a boot-floppy could be used instead.

Do you think that the problem is with your computer's:

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