How to Differentiate a Hardware Problem from a Software Problem

Computer CPU

You seem to find that your system has stopped functioning well. It has gone slow, applications have lately been crashing and you are also facing the problem of ‘Blue Screen’. You might wonder whether it is the computer’s hardware that has been failing or it is a software related problem that can by fixed on your own. It may not be simple to figure that out. This is because software problems, as well as, hardware problems can often show similar symptoms. For instance, often you might encounter blue screen problem that might have been occurring due to hardware or software problems.

Your computer has become slow

You must have heard about all such stories about slowing down of a computer over a period as the user had installed too many software that started functioning at startup or because it was attacked by a malware. The user eventually came to a conclusion that his system had become slow as it was an old one and so he got it replaced.

However, the belief was not correct. In case, you encounter a situation where your system has slowed down, it might be having a problem in software that can be easily taken care of.  You must note here that your computer does not slow down due to hardware problems. It is true that there are a few exceptions to this rule when the CPU has got overheated and has been down clocking itself and running at a slower speed to remain cooler. However, most of the times, your system becomes slow due to software issues.

Blue screen problem

Present versions of Microsoft Windows are quite stable as compared to the earlier versions. If the drivers of your system are well programmed and makes use of reliable hardware, a windows based PC should not throw the issue of blue screen. However, if you are experiencing frequent blue screen related problems, there is a probability that the hardware of your PC is failing.

However, it is also true that if your hardware drivers are not programmed well, your computer can witness blue-screen related issues. In case you have recently upgraded or installed your hardware drivers and then the occurrences of blue screen problem have started, uninstall the driver. You can also use the system restore option. However, if you have not touched your drivers lately and still face this problem, there is a great likelihood that it is a hardware related issue.

Your computer is not booting

In case you find that your computer fails to boot, it can be having either a hardware issue or a software-related problem. Have you observed whether Windows has been trying to boot but failed midway during the booting process? Does your system unable to identify its hard drive or not getting powered on at all? You need to consult the troubleshooting guide in such a scenario.

What happens when hardware components start failing?

CPU:  If the CPU has failed, your system may not boot at all. On the other hand, if your CPU has got overheated, your system may enter ‘Blue Screen’ problem when it is under stress.
Hard Drive: In case the hard drive of your system has begun to fail, the files might get corrupted. You can then experience delays whenever you try to access a file or save files in your hard drive. There may be scenarios when even the operating system might stop booting.

RAM: You must be aware that RAM is the location where data gets written by the various applications. It is used to store data for a short-term. In case, your system’s RAM is about to fail, an application may have written its data to RAM but while trying to retrieve it later, it might get a wrong value. This would ultimately crash the application and lead to other problems like file corruption and blue screens.

Motherboard: Problems associated with your system’s motherboard night be quite tough to detect. You might occasionally encounter blue screens or similar issues.

Other problems: In case a computer slows down, it can be due to software -related issues.
However, you just cannot rule out the occurrences of several of these symptoms due to software-related issues. Harmful malware might invade the kernel of your Windows Operating system and cause blue screen problem. Though some ideas have been explained to show the differences between the two types of problems, but it is not quite easy to diagnose at times. So often troubleshooting is done using a trial and error method.

For possible attacks on your system by a harmful malware, your computer should be scanned at regular intervals. The sure-shot method of ascertaining if the problem is hardware or software related is to try restoring your system’s software status to the default state. You can check if the issue still exists after restoring the OS to its original state. If the problem still persists, there could a hardware issue.

Date: 
Tuesday, January 26, 2016