Five Really Simple Tricks and Tips that Solve a Lot of PC Problems


After you work with PCs for a while, you learn some really simple tricks that solve many of the problems that plague PC users. These tricks are not in any instruction book but they work in a surprising number of situations. Here are five that I have used over and over. They are probably well known to Gizmo’s readers but they are so useful that it’s worth mentioning them here so you can pass them along to your less knowledgeable acquaintances. They require no technical expertise whatever, are easy to remember, and can be used by anybody.

  1. Disconnect and reconnect devices that aren’t working
    This simple procedure often fixes problems for all sorts of electronic devices. A common example is the USB port that does not seem to work. Unplug and plug back in the USB mouse or keyboard or whatever USB device is not functioning. 
  2. Make sure that all your cables and power cords are tightly connected
    Computer won’t come on? Maybe the power cord isn’t quite plugged in or the cat loosened it. Video not working? Maybe a connector is loose. Sounds ridiculously simple but a loose connection causes problems a lot more often than you might think. Every savvy user of electronics learns to check connections. A corollary is to make sure all the power switches are on.
  3. The master solution to a lot of Windows problems
    Windows has a frustrating variety of glitches that can occur but Windows also has a surprising capacity for fixing itself. The trick is to reboot. As experienced PC users know, rebooting will more likely than not fix a momentary hiccup. I've been asked many times for help with a Windows problem that was fixed just by restarting the PC. If all beginners were taught this, it would save a lot of time and trouble.
  4. Fix a lost Internet connection
    I can’t count how many times I have found that a lost Internet connection could be restored by simply turning the router off for 30 seconds and then turning it back on. If you have a second box with a modem, turn that off as well. Then turn the modem box back on, followed by the router.
  5. Second way to fix a lost Internet connection
    Many laptops have a sliding switch on the side that turns the wireless radio on and off. It is easy to unknowingly slide the switch to the “off” position. I have restored a lost connection quite a few times by just putting this switch back to “on”.

These simple tricks may be elementary but knowing them can save a lot of time and anguish. They may not be new to Gizmo’s readers but there are hundreds of millions of home PC users who know almost nothing about the computers they use. Pass these tricks along to your friends and family - then they won’t have to ask you for help as often.

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This tips section is maintained by Vic Laurie. Vic runs several websites with Windows how-to's, guides, and tutorials, including a site for learning about Windows and the Internet and another with Windows 7 tips.

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Still want to see fix for IE 11 in Win 8.1 to work right w/ Flash Player. Can't play videos on lot sites w/ the newest Flash Player. Chrome ok for most sites (built in Flash) so why the IE 11 grief. Had to swap out the flash.ocx file in the x64 folder just to get a few problem programs to play. Oh well in time MS gets around to it.

Right. When i worked phone support, i occasionally would remark that we had to wait thirty seconds for the used electrons to trickle out...

From my experience over many years I have found that a simple restart will not necessarily fix a problem but a cold start will. So I always tell people to shut the computer down, wait 30 seconds then switch it back on. If that doesn't work then I know that further troubleshooting is required.

Yup, a good old reboot oft works wonders. Sometimes just restarting the application can do the trick. Shame Windows needs this, remembering the 14 years up time on some of our non-MS servers. And when the technology to patch running kernels becomes more widespread, even less down time.

6.Switch the machine off for awhile.

I agree 100% with rebooting and I would add that I've done phone technical assistance for a few years and I found out that many users lie about that, telling me that they restarted their PC before calling the helpdesk but they didn't and doing this fixed their problems. Don't ask me why.