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Common Windows computer (PC) issues and solutions [Troubleshooting guide]

Millions of Windows computers are running around the world so it is almost always expected that many users will have problems every day. With this fact in mind, we’ve decided to create a blog that will cater to PC problems of the ever-growing Windows community. If you’re reading this, you must be looking for solution/s to your own computer issue. In that case, we recommend that you check out our questionnaire below so you can tell us about the problem in detail. If you think we need to expand the list further, kindly tell us by contacting us via the link at the bottom.

For now, here are some of the most common computer problems a lot of PC users encounter day in and day out:

  1. Nothing happens when trying to open a program | Application won’t open in my PC
  2. Unable to install programs | Application fails to install
  3. Cannot load email attachments
  4. Printer refuses to print | Printer not working
  5. Browser keeps showing “There is a problem with this website’s security certificate” message
  6. Computer is very slow in doing tasks | PC slow performance issue
  7. Computer is slow when loading websites | Slow browsing problem 
  8. My browser keeps showing ads | ads keep popping out

Windows problems can sometimes be difficult to diagnose so kindly make sure that you give us very detailed description of the problem. You also want to mention relevant history that may have led to the issue. The more information that you can provide, the higher the chance of us diagnosing the issue more efficiently. We also expect that you mention whatever troubleshooting step/s that you may have done before contacting us in order to prevent repeating them in our article. Again, more details you can give us, the faster it is for us to pinpoint the cause and its corresponding solution.


Nothing happens when trying to open a program | Application won’t open in my PC

One of the most frustrating problems any computer user may encounter is when an application or program appears to be unresponsive when it’s clicked. In some cases, a loading icon may show, like a spinning circle or similar screen object (this depends on the application itself), but eventually nothing shows up. To fix this problem, the first thing that you want to do is to find out the possible causes that may have led to this issue. For some, such issue may be a result of malware infection, while others may be experiencing it due to a simple software bug. Whatever the exact cause is, it’s always good to think hard on what you may have done prior to noticing the problem. Like in most PC issues, knowing the history of your computer is often critical in arriving at a solution. If you’re fond of installing applications without verifying their origin, there’s a chance that you have installed a malicious software so cleaning the computer with an antivirus may be necessary.

It’s also important to remember that some programs may be installed in your computer but they may not necessarily run due to compatibility issues. For instance, games developed for older operating system versions like Windows XP may still be installed in Windows 8 or Windows 10 machines but they may not run altogether. The same is true for other types of applications so make sure that you know what you’re putting into your system before proceeding.

Unable to install programs | Application fails to install

Another common problem that some PC owners may experience along the way is the difficulty to install any or one particular application. As a PC user myself for decades now, I can say I’ve run into this problem a few times in the past too. In almost all cases though, mine was caused by my own doing as I’m fond of tweaking default settings. I sometimes share my computer with family members so I want to ensure that no application will be installed without my knowledge by changing some settings in Local Group Policy Editor. While doing so has been effective so far (they haven’t figured out how to turn on Windows Installer on their own yet), it can sometimes backfire if I want to install an app in a hurry. It can still baffle me for a few seconds why installation does not work. Realizing I need to head to Local Group Policy Editor first obviously fixes things up.

For some users who may not have heard of Local Group Policy Editor though, this problem can be a real headache. If you are on a shared computer and you are unable to install a program, it’s always a good thing to check whether or not Windows Installer service has been disabled or not. To do that, follow these steps:

  1. Pull up the Run command window and type in “gpedit.msc”. Alternatively, you can simply head to the Start menu and type the same command.
  2. Open Microsoft Management Console in order to access Local Group Policy Editor.
  3. Go to go to Computer Configurations.
  4. Go to Administrative Templates.
  5. Go to Windows Components.
  6. Go to Windows Installer.
  7. Check if Windows Installer is disabled or not. If it’s set on disabled, this may be the reason why you can’t install any app on your PC.

Sometimes, users may not be able to access Local Group Policy Editor or even the Run command menu due to corporate security protocols. If you’re using a company computer and you are unable to add a program, consider contacting your IT department.

There are also cases wherein Windows Installer Service may not work at all, effectively preventing a user from installing anything. If that’s the case, any of these three causes may be true:

  1. computer’s registry is corrupted,
  2. windows installer Service is off,
  3. a program that uses Microsoft Installer Service was installed or removed before attempting to install the program on your computer.

All the three items require more in-depth discussion so if you think any of them is true in your computer, make sure to let us know so we can publish a separate post about your problem and its corresponding solution. You can fill out our Mailbag form in this link.

Cannot load email attachments

Email attachments can take the form of any file so if you’re having trouble opening one, the main reason for it may simply be due to the fact that your machine is not equipped to handle it. For example, if you’re trying to download and open a PDF attachment and your computer does not have a native PDF reader installed, you may get an error indicating that the file cannot be opened. Installing a free PDF reader like the Adobe Reader program can easily fix the problem. The same is true when faced with other types of files to open. Be resourceful. Use Google and search for programs that you can install to open a particular file type.

Printer refuses to print | Printer not working

Printers today are becoming more user friendly and most printer makers do offer easy step-by-step tutorials in their websites. So, the first rule of thumb when dealing with printer issues is to check your printer manual or visit the printer manufacturer’s support site for direct assistance. If you don’t have access to both for some reason, the next best thing that you will do is to ensure that the printer is working. “Working,” in the context of this post means all the following items are true:

  1. printer is powered on
  2. printer is properly connected to the PC (wired or wirelessly)
  3. there’s enough paper and ink

If all these prerequisites are present, you must then try to restart the printer. This simple step can sometimes works wonders so don’t fail to do it everytime. Once you’ve restarted the printer, try to enter another print command in your computer so you can check if a print queue will show on the printer and in the computer. Checking the print queue in a printer itself varies so make sure that you consult the manual if you aren’t sure how to do it. The print queue usually shows up in your computer’s system try (at the bottom right corner) so simply double-click it. Once you’ve pulled up the print queue window, you also want to make sure that “Use Printer Offline” option is NOT checked. Checking this option can sometimes lead to printing delays as the operating system may think you want to do the printing task at a later time.

If these simple tasks won’t help at all, don’t hesitate to contact the support hotline or website of your printer’s manufacturer.

Browser keeps showing “There is a problem with this website’s security certificate” message

If you’re getting “There is a problem with this website’s security certificate. The security certificate presented by this website was not issued by a trusted certificate authority.” error whenever you visit a website, or if you simply pull up your browser, it may be an indicator that a third party may be attempting to gather data between your machine and a remote server, or just a sign that your PC’s system date is incorrect. Sometimes, a website’s security certificate may simply expire for some unknown reason (this is very rare) so there’s nothing that a regular PC can do about it.

In most cases though, the main reason why your browser may keep on showing you the messages regardless of the site of you visit may be the system clock. Make sure that your computer has the correct system date and time to fix the problem. To do that, right click the clock in the system tray, and select “adjust date and time.”

Computer is very slow in doing tasks | PC slow performance issue

If you suddenly find your computer very slow even when doing light tasks such as loading an application or even when trying to copy and paste, there are a number of things that you should look into to get to the bottom of the problem. This section does not cover slow internet connection issue or slow boot up issue (we will discuss them in separate posts) so kindly revisit our blog in the coming days for them.

Reboot first. General slow performance issues in Windows machines are sometimes intermittent and may not provide enough pattern in order for a user to determine the true cause. In a lot of cases though, a simple reboot can fix the problem so if ever you encounter this problem from time to time, make sure that you restart the machine right away.

Disable background processes via Task Manager. If your computer continues to lag significantly after a reboot, the next move should be to pull up Task Manager so you can check if there a lot of background processes that hogs critical resources. To do that, simply press CTRL, ALT, and DEL buttons at the same time. Once you do that, select Task Manager to open it. Task Manager will give you a number of tabs but in this case, you are interested in checking items under Processes tab. The items in this tab are grouped into Apps, Background processes, and Windows processes. The information in this section are not meant to be understood by an average Windows user but what you want to do in this case is to see what apps and processes may be using CPU, Memory, and disk resources. If you notice that your that a particular application or process is using a lot of memory (as indicated by MB unit), you can try to select and terminate it. If, for example, you noticed that an antivirus program is in the list and it has a high memory MB, it’s possible that it may running in the background doing scans. Antivirus scanning tasks can be very intensive and resource hungry so you want to discontinue it at this time.

Check that hard drive. Another reason why your computer may appear slow can be due to low hard drive space. In general, we suggest that you leave at least 200 GB of hardware space unused in order to minimize slow performance issues. Like any other storage device, a regular computer hard drive can also get corrupted. To check the integrity of your machines hard drive, we recommend that you run Microsoft’s Scandisk utility tool. This tool is incorporated with any Windows OS today so it’s a free one. The scan may take several hours though, depending on the size of the drive and possible errors that may be present. Make sure to do this overnight, or when you won’t use your PC for a long time. To do it, follow these steps:

  1. Pull up File Explorer by pressing the “Windows key” and “E”  on your keyboard.
  2. In the File Explorer window, look for This PC or the name of the hard drive or computer in the navigation pane.
  3. A list of drives is displayed on the right side of the window. Right-click on the drive you want to run Scandisk on and select Properties.
  4. In the Properties window, click on the Tools tab.
  5. Click the Check button in the Error Checking section.
  6. The computer needs to restart to run Scandisk without any interruptions.
  7. You can run try to defragment the drive to allow it to run efficiently by selecting Optimize button afterwards.

The tests above may or may not detect physical problems in the hard drive itself. If your computer continues slow down due to bad hard drive, or if you can hear some unnatural clicking noise when your machine accesses the drive, that may indicate that there may be physical malfunction behind the trouble. This is especially true for older hard disc drives.

Malware infection. A slow down in performance can also be caused by viruses. Viruses and malicious software in Windows environment in general varies a lot so it’s impractical to check for each one at once. The general rule for average users is prevention first and scanning second. Today, preventing malicious software from infecting a machine is easier said than done but it is not impossible. To do that, you must avoid:

  • visiting dubious websites,
  • opening email attachments from untrusted sources,
  •  clicking on email links
  • downloading and installing unknown apps

Doing these four items can effectively prevent malware from infecting your PC. If you don’t do them often you can assume that your PC may be compromised so you should do the next step — scanning for malware. While there are a lot of free and paid third party security software out there, we recommend that you start using the native Microsoft Defender software first. If that won’t yield anything, disable it and install a third party antivirus or security software package.

Install Windows system updates. Microsoft regularly releases system updates to fix known bugs and glitches. Sometimes, performance updates are also provided to make the operating system work more efficiently. Although Windows update is turned on by default, make sure to check that it’s set to automatically download and install updates if possible.

Low RAM. In older computers, RAM shortage can be one of the significant reasons why they work terribly. A machine with low memory or RAM can perform poorly when faced with a lot of tasks at once so make sure that your computer has at least 2GB of RAM. This size should be enough for machines that does light tasks such as browsing with a few other apps opened. If you want to do heavier tasks such as gaming or video editing, you should consider upgrading RAM.

Consult a computer technician. There are other more advanced options that can be tried if the above solutions won’t work but if you don’t have the time, patience, or skill to do them, we highly suggest that you let a professional do them. We will be posting other posts in the future on how to fix slow performance issues so keep watching for more articles in the coming days.

Computer is slow when loading websites | Slow browsing problem

If you noticed that websites seem to be loading very slow or that loading icon keeps showing, the reason may be slow internet connection speed. To check if slow internet speed is indeed the cause, do a simple speed test. Here’s how:

  1. Pull up your browser.
  2. Type in “speedtest.net” in the address bar.
  3. Select the nearest service that applies.
  4. Compare the download speed with the connection speed you’re paying for. If you don’t know the download speed you’re supposed to be getting, contact your internet service provider.

In general, even a 1Mbps download speed should be enough to allow you to do decent browsing experience. Below 1Mbps, you can expect some wait times in loading websites.

If websites do still load slowly even if you have way too fast download speed (over 3Mbps), try to clear your browser’s cache. The steps to clear cache for each popular browser today varies so make use of Google if you don’t know how to do it.

My browser keeps showing ads | ads keeps popping out

Having persistent ad pop ups when browsing isn’t normal and is a sure sign of either a malware infection or presence of adware. Most of the time it’s the latter. Adware is the favorite choice of third parties to monetize. Although adwares are mostly harmless, as they’re meant to bombard users with all sorts of ads, they can be quite invasive and annoying. They are usually installed by suspicious applications and most of the time, removing them can be hard. If your Windows Defender software can’t deal with adware, try to install third party security software designed to track and uninstall them. There are many free antivirus options out there so feel free to test them until you’ve removed the annoying pop ups. Just make sure to turn off your Windows Defender software before installing any third party antivirus. Keep in mind that using more than antivirus can cause performance problems so make sure that you uninstall an old third party antivirus before installing a new one.

 


We are here to help

If you are having a problem with your Windows computer, don’t hesitate to let us know about it. We understand how frustrating computer problems can be so, more so if you can’t find the right solutions at all. Our blog exists to help PC users and Windows community deal with their problems effectively. To engage with us, just fill out the questionnaire in this link and wait for our articles to be published. In order to help as many people as possible, we only provide our solutions via posts so please don’t expect that we will respond to your emails or private messages. By making all posts public, we can share our solutions to other users in a more efficient manner. We cannot guarantee a quick response so if your issue is time sensitive, please find another way to resolve your problem.

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