How to Fix a Computer Tower

by Bonnie Conrad

No matter what type of computer you use, or what you use it for, it is important to have some basic troubleshooting skills under your belt. Computer repair services can be quite costly, and in some cases the cost to repair a broken computer can be nearly as much as, or even more than, the cost to buy a new one. If you can troubleshoot and resolve your own computer issues, you will be able to save yourself time and money.


Log on to the computer, right-click on "My Computer" and choose "Properties" from the menu. Click on the "Hardware" tab, and click the "Device Manager" button. Click the "Plus sign" next to each category of devices, looking for any yellow question marks or red exclamation points. If you see any of these indicators, right-click on the applicable device and choose "Update Driver" from the list. This will force the operating system to search for a new driver and install it. Watch for the question mark or exclamation point to go away, then test the device again.


Click on the "Start" button, choose "All Programs" from the menu, and look for "Accessories." Choose "System Tools" from the menu and then click on "System Restore." Choose a "Restore point" from before you started experiencing problems, and run the "Restore" process. When the restore process is complete your computer will restart, and you will be able to log on and test it.


Shut down your computer and unplug the power cord. Remove your computer's cover by removing any case screws or pulling up on the case release handle. The case release handle should be located on the side of the tower's case. Look for accumulated dust and debris inside the computer, and use a can of compressed air to remove that dust. Be especially careful to remove built up dirt around the computer's fan--dust from the room can be drawn into the computer during normal operation. You will see the power supply on the bottom of the case; be sure to check the inside of the power supply for any accumulated fuzz or dirt. Tower cases tend to accumulate more than their fair share of dirt, due to their large size and the fact that the power supply and the fan are close to the surface of the desk.


Turn on your computer and test it again. If the problem persists, shut your computer down again, and locate the memory modules on the motherboard. Remove the memory modules one at a time. After each memory module has been removed, turn your computer back on and check its performance. A bad memory module can cause a computer to behave erratically, or even to not boot at all, so be sure to remove each memory module one at a time to isolate the bad module.


Make sure all of the connections inside your computer are tight. Look at the flat gray ribbon cable that runs between the hard drive and the motherboard. This gray cable is known as an IDE cable, and its job is to connect the hard drive to the motherboard on the tower computer. To locate the hard drive look for this gray ribbon cable--you should see a small silver box with a brand name like Western Digital or Maxtor. The drive will be secured inside the tower with a set of screws.

Check the power cables as well. You will see a large square box in the lower left hand corner of your tower computer, and this box will have a bunch of wires running out of it. Each of these wires will be connected to a piece of equipment in your tower case, i.e., the hard drive, the DVD drive. Check the tightness of each of these cables. If you can easily wiggle them you will need to remove and reseat those cables. You should have plenty of space to work within a tower PC, so make sure you check each power cable carefully.


Replace the cover on your computer and turn the tower PC back on. As the computer is booting up you should see the memory count, followed by the splash screen for your operating system. If the computer is running normally, this boot process should not take more than a couple of minutes. Log on to your computer and test it by doing the things you always do.

Items you will need

About the Author

Based in Pennsylvania, Bonnie Conrad has been working as a professional freelance writer since 2003. Her work can be seen on Credit Factor, Constant Content and a number of other websites. Conrad also works full-time as a computer technician and loves to write about a number of technician topics. She studied computer technology and business administration at Harrisburg Area Community College.

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