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Guide to Asking Questions, Requesting Help and Fixing Problems Fast.
Old 22 Aug 2008, 00:25   #1 (permalink)
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Default Guide to Asking Questions, Requesting Help and Fixing Problems Fast.

I figured as a guy that often helps resolve computer troubles, I'd post a little guide so that we can all save time and get problems fixed faster.

First, there is some information you should ALWAYS provide in your FIRST POST so that we can get the debugging train rolling. The biggest thing is Operating System. If you don't know what an operating system is, its the program that manages your computer- like Windows, Mac OS, or Linux. Example operating systems would be Windows XP, Windows Vista, Mac OS X, or Ubuntu Linux.

If the problem has anything to do with a specific application, tell us what application this is. Examples would be Microsoft Word, The Sims, WinRar, etc.

If the problems have anything to do with the internet; tell us what browser you use. If you do not know what a browser is, it is the program you use to view the internet- commonly Internet Explorer 6, Internet Explorer 7, Firefox 2, or Firefox 3. If you are using the internet for anything else explicitly, such as Instant Messengers, Torrents, etc, you should mention it.

If your computer has anything to do with crashing or lag, tell us what Anti-Virus software you have installed, if any. Tell us what application is lagging (or the operating system). If you can, try to tell us what type of lag it seems to be, but if you can't tell thats no problem.

A quick guide for identifying lag types-

1. Internet Lag- Try opening a webpage. If it takes a really long time to load, this may be it. Using internet games or torrents will often cause this. Transmitting or downloading any big files; especially video, will also cause this.

2. Graphics Lag- Really only common in games. This will be easily distinguished by a "choppiness" of the video. If your game has a frame rate display; enable it, if you're getting anything under about 30 than this is it. This can easily be confused with Internet Lag on online games that link displays and internet connections.

3. Processor Lag or Memory Lag - These are harder to diagnose. If you can, open Task Manager or use Rain Meter to see how much of your computer's CPU and Memory is being used. This often is what you get when your cursor turns into the hour glass or the Vista blue circle and your windows become non-responsive for more than a second or two.

If its a crashing or major lag problem, put a hand on your computer. Is it hot? Not just warm, Hot. You should know about how warm your computer usually gets. If you're running it "at load", or at full power, it will always get a bit hotter than normal, so be careful.

While you're at it, listen for a moment- is the hard drive clicking a lot? Is the hard drive light on? This can be a sign of a problem when you know the drive shouldn't be running- it normally doesn't for normal internet browsing. Keep in mind if you are using Torrents these will use your hard drive pretty much all the time.

I know it sounds like a lot of information, but the more you give to us in the first post the faster we can figure out whats wrong and get your computer back on its feet. As a rule also include anything thats not normal- perhaps today you visited a not well known website that seemed kind of shady and now your internet is slow, suggesting a virus possibility.


There is a lot you can do right off the bat to try and get your computer running normally again. If you're a long time computer user, you'll probably do these steps automatically.

If your computer is hot, TURN IT OFF and LEAVE IT OFF for a good 15 to 30 minutes. This will give it a chance to cool down, and possibly save your hardware. Make sure none of the fans are blocked.

If you're experiencing Processor or Memory lag, start closing applications. If its lagging so bad that you can't close them, follow the following steps based on Operating System-

1. Windows- Press CTRL+ALT+DELETE, or right click on the task bar and select "Task Manager". On the applications on your screen, Right click on them and select "Go to process", then end these processes. Repeat for each application on your Applications tab. You should see performance start to come back as they are closed. Go to the "Performance" tab to see if your Memory and CPU use is going down. In Windows XP you only get to see Page File usage, not physical memory. Sorry.

2. For Linux systems, at least Ubuntu, go to your terminal and type in
sudo xkill
Then click the application window. It will die. In Ubuntu you get a cool X cursor.

3. Mac OS X- I have no idea, if a mac user is kind enough to enlighten me it'd be much appreciated.

If you're experiencing Graphics lag, close your games or any other graphics-intensive applications. In general, if it looks pretty, close it. If you have an nVidea card, try opening your nVidea control panel and moving all the settings to "Performance". If the lag is minor, adjust your game settings. Ensure that you have the latest drivers. Drivers can be downloaded from the card manufactrer or your computer manufacturer's site, go to the tech support area.

If you're experiencing Internet lag, close all your instant messengers and Torrents and close your browser. Consider switching to FireFox. Restart your browser. If the lag is still there, turn off and turn on your computer. Attempt again. If the lag is still there, find your modem, turn it off, and leave it off for at least 30 seconds before turning it back on. You'll have to wait several minutes for it to connect with most Cable or DSL lines, but its likely to fix it. Remember that sometimes you just have to be patient, though, so don't decide after a second or two that its dead. Google is a good choice for testing because they have fast server response times and their homepage is so minimalist that it'll load nearly instantly, even for dial up (Also; do not use iGoogle for this).

A reboot really will fix nearly every temporary problems. Do it as a matter of course. You need to turn off and turn on your computer regularly- not restart, not put to sleep, not hibernate, turn off and turn on. It is a part of good computer care.

Lastly; post here! We really are a helpful bunch if you help us help you by posting the information we need.
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Old 22 Aug 2008, 06:33   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Guide to Asking Questions, Requesting Help and Fixing Problems Fast.

Good run-through, Geeky. Have a cookie for your efforts.

Also, stickied.
Praying Mantidae is offline   Reply With Quote


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