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If the hardware has actually failed, however, you must get out your tools and start replacing components. If this is not one of your skills, you can send the device out for repair. In either case, because the system can be down for anywhere from an hour to several days, it’s always prudent to have backup hardware on hand.

Software problems are a little more evasive. Some problems might result in General Protection Fault messages, which indicate a Windows or Windows program error of some type. Also, a program might suddenly stop responding (hang), or the entire machine might lock up randomly. The solution to these problems generally involves a trip to the manufacturer’s support website to get software updates and patches or to search for the answer in a knowledge base.

Sometimes software will give you a precise message regarding the source of the problem, such as the software is missing a file or a file has become corrupt. In this case, you can either provide the file or, if necessary, reinstall the software. Neither solution takes long, and your computer will be up and running in a short time.

Sometimes fragmented memory, which occurs after you open and close too many programs, is the source of the problem. The solution may be to reboot the computer, thus clearing memory. Be sure to add this to your networktroubleshooting bag of tricks.

Is It a Workstation or a Server Problem?

Troubleshooting this problem involves first determining whether one person or a group of people are affected. If only one person is affected, think workstation. If several people are affected, the server or, more generally speaking, a portion of the network is probably experiencing problems.

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