System vs. Software: Common Causes of Your Computer’s Distress

February 23, 2024 | Blog

Whether you use your computer for personal or work uses, there’s no argument that these devices play a pivotal role in an individual’s or organization’s productivity. In fact, now more than ever, individuals are using computers in their daily lives, but despite the advancements seen in recent years, MacBooks and Windows computers still experience issues. 

So, if you’re encountering PC distress, you’re not the first or the last person. Unfortunately, every year, countless PCs experience system and software concerns. It’s important to recognize these issues so that you can resolve them before they become irreparable. 

In this blog, the team at My Computer Works has identified and shared some of the common causes of your computer’s distress. We have also discussed how to troubleshoot problems and how to check your computer’s performance. Knowing this information will help you determine your next steps toward creating a healthy computer. 

What Is The Difference Between Hardware (System) And Software Problems? 

To understand the common causes of a computer’s distress, you first need to realize that there is a difference between system (hardware) and software problems

System or hardware problems are related to physical issues surrounding physical components or devices connected to a computer. In contrast, software issues refer to error codes, glitches, and other operating system and software problems. 

Common Computer Hardware Causes Of Distress

Hardware or system problems can be tricky to diagnose because some hardware problems are easy to fix while others need the services of an experienced technician like the ones at My Computer Works. 

Some common causes of computer hardware distress include faulty keyboards, malfunctioning screens, and overly sensitive mice. A few of the more complex but still common causes of your PC’s distress include the following: 

  • Faulty RAM: Common indicators of faulty RAM include memory errors that lead to crashes and instability.
  • Failing hard Drives: Signs of a failing hard drive include data corruption, slow performance, or system crashes.
  • Overheating: Loud fan noises, hot-to-the-touch surfaces, and inadequate cooling are signs of overheating that lead to thermal issues, impacting performance.
  • Power supply failure: Unstable power delivery leads to unexpected shutdowns.
  • A Faulty graphics card: Visual artifacts, crashes, or display issues affect overall performance and are signs your graphics card is faulty and needs replacing.

Troubleshooting-wise, usually, the best way to identify system issues is to examine your computer’s hardware to look for problems. This means you should start by looking at all cables to ensure no loose connections or damage. 

If the cables are fine, you must check your power supply and screens, especially if they flicker or fail to switch on. Should checking these components yield no results, you’ll need to start an investigation into your RAM, CPU, graphics card, and other components.

Common Computer Software Causes Of Distress

Software problems are far more complex and harder to diagnose because they can appear in different forms. 

For example, common computer software causes of distress include application errors, installation issues, system crashes, and performance problems. 

Other more complex but still common software causes of distress include the following: 

  • Malware infections: Viruses, spyware, or ransomware can indicate that you have a software issue.
  • Outdated software: Unpatched applications may lead to vulnerabilities and crashes, so if your PC is freezing, slow, or crashing often, it could be because of this.
  • Corrupted system files: Disrupted files result in errors, crashes, or system instability, so if you’ve got corrupted system files, it’s best to address the issue.
  • Driver issues: Incompatible or outdated drivers affect hardware functionality and software performance. Thus, you must check your software drivers to determine if an issue needs fixing.
  • Registry errors: Incorrect registry entries impact system performance and responsiveness, so a slow PC could be due to registry errors that need to be fixed.

Often, the easiest way to begin the troubleshooting process is to identify the specific error message you’ve received pertaining to the software issue. The error message can help you learn exactly what you must resolve to return your PC to peak performance. 

After finding the error message, research it online or speak with an IT professional who can help guide you through how to resolve the issue. 

Alternatively, another troubleshooting option to identify issues with software is to perform a system restore. Performing a system restore will let you restore your PC to a point in time where the error has not yet occurred. 

How To Check Computer System Performance 

Do you have a sneaking suspicion that your computer isn’t performing how it should? Now that you know the many causes of distress in a PC, you might be wondering how to check if your computer has fallen victim to any of the common software and hardware causes of distress. 

Fortunately, the process isn’t too difficult, and if you have a little tech know-how, you should manage a basic check. Below, we’ve detailed how to perform computer system performance checks on Windows and Mac computers. 

If you need help exploring computer fixes after looking at your PC’s performance, our team at My Computer Works is ready to provide Macbook help and Windows PC help. 

Checking Computer System Performance On A Mac PC

On your Mac computer, you can check system performance by opening the “Activity Monitor” located in the “Utilities” folder within “Applications.” This tool provides real-time insights into your Mac’s performance.

Once you’ve found this folder, you can monitor CPU, memory, disk, and network usage and determine if these are causing poor system performance. 

In addition, when using the activity monitor, you can identify resource-intensive processes, manage applications, and utilize the “Energy” tab to optimize power efficiency. 

Checking Computer System Performance on A Windows PC

If you want to check system performance and identify potential causes for distress on a Windows PC, you can do this by accessing your “Task Manager” through Ctrl + Shift + Esc or right-clicking the taskbar. 

In this interface, you must navigate to the “Performance” tab to monitor CPU, memory, disk, and network usage. Like Mac’s “Activity Monitor,” the Windows “Task Manager” will also let you identify resource-hungry processes, manage startup programs, and troubleshoot performance issues efficiently.

Why Is It Important To Keep Computers Up To Date? 

Computers aren’t cheap whether you’re a Macbook or Windows user. In fact, the average cost of a new PC is estimated at $650 for a basic setup. What’s more, you will often also have to buy additional PC components and software like an anti-virus program to ensure it’s protected. 

Yet, an anti-virus isn’t enough protection to ensure you get the most out of your investment. If you want your PC to maintain its health (yes, a computer can become unhealthy) in the long term, there are a few steps you need to take. Have a look at the below computer health tips that you should undertake:

  • Routine computer maintenance by qualified professional IT techs. A tech will know the checks to complete, pinpoint the software or hardware components affecting your computer’s health and performance, and propose computer fixes. 
  • Frequent system updates to drivers alongside software patches and security updates. Undertaking frequent updates will help protect against vulnerabilities and enhance performance. 
  • Regular computer internal and external cleanings. Few people realize it’s necessary to complete internal and external cleanings, with both being as important as the other. To clean your computer’s interior, you should optimize storage space, declutter files, and delete unnecessary applications. To clean the exterior, you must clean and dust hardware components like your power supply, RAM, and graphics card slot. 

By following these tips, you’ll have a much better chance of enjoying using your computer for many years before a new purchase is needed. 

Wrap-Up On The Common System And Software Causes Of Your PC’s Distress

With the knowledge of the common causes of your computer’s distress on your side, you have a much better chance of determining what is wrong with your computer and how to fix it. 

Still, you might be better off utilizing the services of an expert IT repair and maintenance company like My Computer Works

Our team has years of experience helping individuals uncover and solve their system and software problems. Simply contact us today, and we’ll see how we can serve you. 


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