Frequently Asked Questions

What can I do when my computer won't . . .?

These are some of the most common problems we see at Continental Computer Services.  If you are running into any of these "computer won't" problems, you might try running Startup Repair or replacing missing files or running FDisk on an older system or try "last known good".  (Or you might want to just give us a call - we know how to fix your computer without damaging more files.)H

  • Computer won't boot
  • Computer won't start
  • computer won't turn on
  • computer won't work
  • computer won't power up
  • computer won't recognize
  • computer won't read
  • computer won't connect
  • computer wont sleep
  • computer won't charge
  • computer won't restore
  • computer won't stand by
  • computer won't defrag
  • computer won't shutdown
  • computer won't log on

How Can I Fix My Computer?

If your computer was working fine but suddenly started freezing, crashing or shutting down spontaneously, you may be able to fix your computer with the following steps:*

  1. Check for recently installed software or hardware
  2. Run your antivirus program - make sure it is up to date first
  3. Run some good spyware removal tool
  4. Check for free hard drive space - low disk space can lead to random lockups
  5. Check for overheating -   Overheating can be caused by problems with fans in the computer, dust buildup or other cooling issues - make sure the power supply fan and CPU fan are running and free of dust buildup.  
  6. Check the memory
  7. Update Windows and Drivers

*SAFETY NOTE:  Unless you really know your way around computers, many of these steps are best performed by qualified repair technicians.  

NEVER OPEN THE POWER SUPPLY CASE - it contains high voltage.  Use extreme caution when cleaning the inside of your computer - the wrong tools or static electricity can cause damage.

How Should I Clean My Computer?



How Can I Speed Up My Computer?

If you find your computer running slow, you may be able to speed it up yourself with this 10 point speed up computer care checklist.

  1. Try turning the computer off, wait a moment or two, and turn it back on.  Simple, safe and gives your computer the chance to get rid of some accumulated problems automatically.
  2. Clear browsing history
  3. Check for viruses and remove any you find.
  4. Remove malware and spyware
  5. Check to make sure you have enough hard drive space.  We recommend keeping about 10% free.
  6. Remove or turn off unused or unneeded software that may be running every time you start up the computer.
  7. Remove browser add ons that may have been added without your knowledge.
  8. Keep an eye on the cache on your browser - empty as needed.
  9. Make sure drivers are up to date.
  10. Run defrag to make sure data on your hard drive is in good order - important for older computers.


FAQ - Lightning

Is There a Real Risk of Lightning Damage to Computers in Tucson?

Lightning is a sudden high voltage discharge of electricity.  A lightning strike can occur within a cloud, between clouds, or between a cloud and the ground.

Monsoon season here in the Tucson area brings lightning that can cause electric storm computer damage, power surge computer damage, and data loss.

According to NASA, 40 to 50 flashes of lightning occur every second worldwide.  Some estimates indicate lightning causes more electric storm computer damage than fires, explosions, hardware faults, software bugs, floods, human errors, and sabotage combined.

Tucson is the lightning photography capital of the world -- indicating a lot of lightning occurs right here in southern Arizona.

Do I Need to Protect From Surges?

A surge suppressor is an electrical device designed to protect equipment from sudden changes in current – brownouts, blackouts, surges and spikes.  Installing  a surge protector between your computer power cable and the wall outlet will give you some protection from electrical storm damage that might occur when you are not around to unplug your system. 

 Use surge protectors to protect from surges through network cables.  A high end surge protector allows you to feed all data and power through the surge protector to protect on both the power and data signal side.

 Surge protectors have specific ratings and you will need to select a surge protector based on your specific application.  If you are trying to protect against lightning storm damage, be sure to select a device that is rated for lightning protection.  Be aware, however, that lightning creates a very high voltage spike of as much as 50 million volts. No surge protector is going to guarantee protection against a direct hit from a lightning bolt.

 Note: Sometimes power strips are erroneously referred to as surge protectors even when they offer no surge protection. An inexpensive power strip from the local hardware store will not protect your computer in a lightning strike or major power surge.  Surge protectors that will protect against spikes are going to be more expensive – we can help you find the right one for your application. 

Note:  DSL modems and surge protectors seem to not play well together.  A DSL modem plugged into a surge protector may periodically lose the DSL signal.  This is a nuisance – but can save you considerable expense repairing damage to a computer hit by a power surge.


Should I Add Uninterruptible Power Supply?

The UPS uses batteries to keep equipment running during power outages just long enough to allow your computer to shut down safely without data loss.  

Another important benefit of installing a UPS is to provide your computer with a steady supply of "clean" power, without the highs and lows of a regular power supply.  By allowing your computer to sip power just the way it wants, you will be extending the life of your computer power supply components.

Install the UPS between the surge protector and the computer. 

Uninterruptible Power Supplies are sized for the need you have in your system - we can help you determine the size that will work best for you.

Note:  we do not recommend using a UPS for long term  "working in the dark" or keeping your system going during a power failure.  For most applications, we will recommend against plugging a large monitor into the UPS and we caution that you should NEVER plug your laser printer into your UPS.  These heavy demand devices will quickly run down and wear out your UPS, leaving you unprotected.


How Do I Know if My Computer Has Suffered Electric Storm Computer Damage?

Some signs of  power surge computer damage from power surge or computer problems caused by lightning strikes or brownouts include:

  • Computer won't start
  • Computer turns on but nothing on screen
  • Signal not found or No Signal
  • Surge protectors and inline fuses are "blown"
  • UPS/backup batteries alarm
  • Computer acting weird.

Damage from an electrical storm or lightning strike may not show up immediately.  Problems like video card damage or a CD rom drive failure may turn up weeks or months after the storm has passed.  However, if you are experiencing erratic system operation or new computer problems, call us or bring your computer in to one of our handy locations in Tucson or Marana.  Our technicians are trained to troubleshoot electric storm computer damage and get your machine working smoothly again.


How Can I Protect My Computer Against Lightning Damage

Computers and modems contain electronic components easily damaged by sudden changes in power or lightning strikes. 

Just turning off your computer is not enough to protect against sever lightning damage to computers.  We recommend these additional steps to protect against lightning damage to computer in an electrical storm:

UNPLUG - the best protection against lightning and power surges is simple.  Turn off and unplug everything.

  • Shut down the computer
  • Turn off peripherals
  • Disconnect the power cords

Be sure to turn off and unplug the DSL or cable modem and unplug the telephone line from the modem as well.  High voltages can travel to your computer telephone lines and will zap your DSL or cable modem.

Using the correct surge protector may help you avoid loss of data but is not as effective as disconnecting the computer from both the power and data signal during a storm.

Unplug during a blackout too.  When the power comes back on the rapidly changing power levels can damage a power supply.

Can Lightning Damage My Computer If It Is Not a Direct Strike?

Lightning causes damage when it generates very short but powerful electrical events like power surges and strikes.  Direct lightning strikes can seriously damage buildings and wiring and can cause fires.  Even more worrisome, the energy of a lightning strike – on a power line, for example - can affect electronics several miles away.

 Not all energy related computer problems are lightning related.  Spikes, surges, brownouts, blackouts and static electricity also can damage your computer.  Spikes have occurred from something as innocent sounding as disconnecting your printer cable from the computer while the computer is running.

 Static electricity is a very real problem in Tucson’s low humidity. Simply walking across the carpet in a room with low humidity can generate up to 35,000 volts of static charge and do major damage to an unprotected computer. Vacuuming too close to a computer can also generate sufficient static electricity to damage your machine.  

Computers should never be placed directly on carpeting - if you wish to sit your computer on a carpeted floor, consider placing a six inch wooden box between the carpet and the computer.  Even on your desk your computer will be safer if you place a plastic mat between the carpet and your chair to eliminate much of the static charge from moving across the carpet.


Safety Tips Electric Storm

Safety Tips For You During An Electrical Storm

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports that about 400 people each year are struck by lightning. Keep yourself and your family safe during a Tucson lightning storm.

 

Skip the chores - Leave the dishes laundry and bathing until after the storm. Electric strikes can follow the water pipes and reach you through a water faucet.

 

Put down the phone – Landlines can conduct electricity from a bolt of lightning right into your body.  Cell phones are safer but don’t use a cell phone outside or in a car where they can attract electricity to you because of their metal components.

 

Unplug - Turn off  and unplug TV and appliances and all your chargers to prevent electricity from travelling through home wiring and short circuiting your equipment or starting a fire.

 

Note:  laptops, tablets and e readers are generally safe to use indoors if they are not plugged in to a charger.

 

Step away from the window or door - Sure lightning is exciting to watch – but lightning bolts can strike through glass and around doors.

 

In your car – don’t touch electrical or metal objects, including the radio, cell phone charger, car door handles, foot pedals or steering wheel.  One safety expert suggests if you are caught driving in a Tucson lightning storm, pull off the road, put on your flashers, roll up all windows, turn off the engine, keep your hands in your lap and wait until the storm passes.   The ASU School of Geographical Sciences suggest that the  typical monsoon storm will pass within about 30 minutes  - not too long to wait if it saves your life. 


FAQ - Laptops

Can a Cracked Laptop Screen be Repaired? Can a laptop screen be fixed?

Most laptop screens cannot be effectively repaired - but we can replace the screen on many types of laptops.


Do I have to send this laptop back to the manufacturer for laptop repair?

   Let us take a look at it first. We fix laptops and have years of experience doing Tucson laptop repair and we may be able to save you the expense and security risks of sending your laptop back to the manufacturer.  

Liquid spilled on laptop - can you fix my laptop?

  From baby formula to Bloody Marys - we are experts at cleaning up the mess a liquid spill leaves in your laptop. Call us immediately to repair spill damage and save your data.  

     

WHAT TO DO IF A SPILL HAPPENS   

If you spill a little water on your laptop, here are some steps to take to begin the repair process. Keep in mind that if liquid reaches the motherboard it can cause a short circuit so act quickly but carefully.   Dry your hands and move the laptop to a dry area. Turn off the laptop fast by holding down the power button for about 5 seconds.  Unplug the laptop power cord and anything else attaching the laptop to electricity. If you know how to do it, remove the battery.    If you are uncomfortable removing the battery, stop here, turn your open computer face down on a towel and give us a call.    If the liquid was a sugary soda, alcohol or a milk product, you will definitely need professional help to salvage the computer.   

Do I need to wait while my laptop is being fixed?

    No -- we know your time is valuable. Drop off your laptop and we will call you with an estimate for repairs.