Weekly Commentaries

This is Sunday Chronicle's weekly commentaries on various issues of interest affecting the country. All individual commentators are done by elite Papua New Guineans from diverse educational backgrounds.

Friday, January 15, 2010

7 Reasons why computers crash


THERE are many reasons why computers crash. It may be system related meaning hardware failure, user carelessness or computer virus related. Some readers may wonder why their system keeps crashing even right after it was brought in for repairs a few days ago. Some times it's because you are facing a system compatibility issue.

Many computers being upgraded face this problem simply because the hardware cannot carry the weight of the new Operating System. A simple example would be trying to run Windows XP on a system built for Windows 98. Sure it would run fine but in the long run it would experience system crash as more weight in terms of software is installed. You can change the RAM, but to change the RAM it would require you to change the processor. In changing the processor you must flash the BIOS and otherwise flashing the bios is quite risky so you will end up buying a new motherboard. As far as old motherboards are concerned there is few in stock and hard to find these days. So you end up frustrated and buy yourself a new PC which you should have done in the first place. Computer technologies change rapidly if you have the cash don't waste your time on old machines; buy new ones.

I hope this article clearly point out the reasons for the crashes.
1. Hardware Conflict
The number one reason why computers crash is hardware conflict. All devices on the computer follow a channel or track while communicating with other devices. These channels are called Interrupt Request Channels (IRQ). According to the computer IRQ's supposed to be unique to each device. For example the printer uses IRQ 7 the keyboard IRQ 1 and the floppy disk drive IRQ 6. Each device will try its best to maintain its unique IRQ.  Some times when devices are not configured properly they end up sharing the same IRQ. In this situation the system crashes when the user tries to use both devices at the same time. In other words two requests sent on the one lane IRQ channel which sorts of jams the traffic.
2. Bad Ram
RAM (Random Access Memory) problems always bring up the Blue Screen of Death. Some times it's when some of the gold contacts on the chip are damaged. If that happens your PC tells you that you have less RAM than you physically have. This may happen as a result of carelessly handing the RAM causing damage to the gold contacts. Another reason would be mismatch of RAM. When you have more than one RAM slots always use two identical types. If you use a 70 nanosecond (70 ns) RAM with a 60 nanosecond (60 ns) RAM the computer will be forced to run at the lower speed. Worse if the PC is overworked with this combination it will crash. If four RAM chips are installed then remove some or rearrange them. Take some time to sort them out find their specifications and this will help.

3. BIOS Settings
Every computer hardware that is made comes with the BIOS chip. The BIOS is the pre installed software that runs the motherboard before the Operating System is installed. It controls all main motherboard functions. Sometimes when changing devices you have to also change BIOS settings to match the change, failing to do so will result in system crash. A common BIOS error concerns the CAS latency. This refers to the RAM. Older EDO (Extended Data Out) RAM has a CAS latency of 3. Newer SDRAM has a CAS latency of 2. Setting the wrong figures may result in the "you save pinis". Take this into account when changing RAM chips.

4.    Printers
When printing a very big document called a postscript file is created. This may sometimes overload the buffer. The buffer is the printer's memory which is in most cases small in size. Therefore during printing more CPU power is used slowing down the computer. Sometimes when printing unusual characters which the computer cannot recognize the computer crashes. Sometimes printers do not recover from system crashes because of confusion in the buffer. A good way to clear the buffer is to unplug the printer for ten seconds. Booting up from a powerless state also called a cold boot will restore the computers default setting and you may carry on.

5.  Overheating
The CPU (The brain of your PC) is usually equipped with a fan to keep it cool. When I first learnt in school about how hard this part works I felt sorry for the CPU. That's why of all other components it has the fan to keep cool. It deserves it. Therefore if what it deserves does not function it stops work and the system crashes. Keep checking sometimes when assembling the motherboard technician forget to connect the fan. Sometimes the blades are blocked by IDE or power supply cables that causes the fan to stop working.

6. Viruses
Yes of course the popular one I have been talking about the whole of last year. Get your anti virus soft wares updated every now and then. Viruses are the main causes of almost all crashes these days. Once the W32 viruses get into your PC you are history. The lastest one here pretends to be an antivirus but keeps on bothering you. Its called Internet Antivirus pro, its in fact a fraud, keeps popping up and frustrates users. That's what that has been frustrating many users in the past weeks.

7. Black Outs
The final one is the frequent black outs we have in PNG. Black Out crash computers that do not use a UPS. Computers when operating in full function fail to save boot settings in a sudden black out that results in a crash. Please buy a UPS; they are very cheap these days, one's worth spending the money on.
These are just a few precautions to look out for. I guess by now you are well aware. Take into account the precautions cut the risky practices and have a same system environment. Until next week, happy computing. pkasar@mail.com

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