The main check list
- Buy or use a computer with proven hardware performance and stability. Talk to friends who own a Macintosh computer to see which is the better machine, or read about the tests done on them by some computer magazines. If this is not practical, then use free Apple-designed software to test for known hardware faults e.g., 5xxx/6xxx Hardware Test 1.0.
- Check all cable connections. Sometimes a simple thing like an AC cord partially pulled out of its socket could cause the computer or other hardware to malfunction with the slightest of knocks. Also check the cable connectors for loose or bent pins. If required, bend the pins back to their original positions using your fingernails or a pair of fine tweezers or pliers, or get a replacement.
- Use the latest software drivers to help iron out any instabilities in your computer and/or other hardware devices. To find the latest software drivers, go to the web site of the hardware manufacturer who supplies your particular hardware and see whether they have the latest free software updates.
- If you are having trouble printing to your printer, check for relatively simple things like loose cables, turning the power on to your printer, putting enough paper in the paper tray, making sure the print cartridges are properly installed or maybe the ink or toner inside the cartridge is empty and needs replacing, and selecting the right printer if you have more than one printer. On rare occasions, it is possible for a large document to send corrupted data to your printer, causing it to stall when printing one of the pages in your document. If this happens, check the page that is not printing in your document and if necessary, retype or reinsert data (i.e. text or graphics) into the page. Resave the document (using another file name) and print again. And if you have background printing turned on, make sure the print run is not paused or stopped for any reason (i.e. double-click the desktop printer icon representing your printer and see what your document is doing).
NOTE: It is always a good idea to regularly use the print preview facility available in most software applications. In that way, you can see exactly how your page will look before printing it and so help you to pinpoint potential printing problems as well as save you money and the environment on your use of paper.
To set up a printer on a PC, follow the installation instructions that accompany your printer. If instructions are not provided, follow this procedure:
- Make sure the printer is directly connected to your computer (perhaps in the LPT1 or first parallel port), or your computer is connected to a network that can access the printer;
- Turn the printer and computer on;
- If your printer is directly connected to your computer, Windows will usually detect the presence of your new hardware device and will launch the Add New Hardware Wizard to help you finish the installation process.
Sometimes the Windows operating system does not detect your printer, in which case you will have to install it yourself:
If your printer is directly connected to your computer, start by double-clicking the Add New Hardware control panel to open it. You should find this control panel by clicking on the Start button and selecting Settings>Control Panel.
- Follow the instructions in the Add New Hardware Wizard. The Wizard will search for any new hardware devices connected to your computer and display the relevant instructions you will need to install the printer if the wizard discovers your printer;
If your printer is on a network, double-click the My Computer hard disk icon and open the Printers folder.
You will see an application called Add Printer. Double-click on this to open it. You will be prompted with the Add Printer Wizard dialog box.
- Click the Next button. The Wizard will display a list of pre-installed printer drivers. Scroll through the list of printer manufacturers and choose the correct one for your printer. Then scroll through the other list to select your printer model. Then click the Next button.
- The Wizard will ask you to select the correct port (e.g. LPT1) where the printer is connected. Choose the correct port, click Next.
- Type a descriptive name for your printer and select "Yes" where it says you want to make it the default printer. Click Next to finish the installation;
- If you cannot find your printer model listed in the above steps, you will need the software disk to install the printer driver. Insert your CD-ROM or floppy disk into the appropriate drive and click the Have Disk button instead, and select the correct drive (usually A: for a floppy drive and D: for a CD drive). Click OK. You should soon see your printer model displayed in the list of printers.
- If the hardware problem persists, sometimes the best solution is simply to shutdown the computer and/or other hardware devices and restart with power turned on. Try powering up the external peripherals like printers, external hard disks and CD writers first before turning on your computer.
- Also check to see if the SCSI communication port numbers for the older types of external hardware devices are unique. You may need to press a small button at the back of the hardware device to change the number in order for your computer to recognise the presence of this device.
- For OS X 10.4.4 users, an external magneto-optical or other storage drive connected to an OSX computer may not mount onto the desktop despite the Disk Utility claiming it can recognise it and can be mounted or ejected from there but it may never actually mount. The best solution for this is to "daisy-chain" the drive off another external unit that does work. By doing so, the problematic drive will mount correctly.
- If you have hardware instability problems with your PowerBook G3 series computer, then click here.
- If you have hardware instability problems with your G3 iBook, then click here.
- Sometimes you may encounter a TFT/LCD monitor that looks surprisingly blurry to look at. Check the screen resolution by opening up the Monitors control panel and select the recommended screen resolution for your monitor. The screen should look clear again. NOTE: This is the only disadvantage of TFT/LCD screens over the standard CRT monitor. On CRT monitors, people can change the screen resolution and the images will always look sharp. However, TFT/LCD screens have a fixed number of transistors for displaying images and therefore an optimal screen resolution. If you try to change the screen resolution on a TFT/LCD monitor to something that is not optimal, the monitor will attempt to interpolate each pixel in the new resolution across the transistor (pixel) grid, resulting in a more blurry image.
- As a last resort, if your hardware device is still playing up, have it checked out and serviced by a qualified technician.